Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildlife
The visitor center closes during winter season.
Steep, rocky, rooty, and exhilarating, this is the best hiking experienced in Southeastern Polk County.
Need to Know
Park at the visitor center.
Skyline Cafe for breakfast.
American Artisans for lunch.
Rosa's Flora's Taco Truck: Cocina Flores or Chicolo's Americana grill for an excellent dinner.
This is a great little trail for the technical aficionado: rocky, rooty, fresh and fruity. The National Forest says the trail was named after some interesting rock formations. These are dotted in a few spots on the loop, but they are not the show stopper. They can be as slippery as a snail's snot on a banana, so tread with caution. They will be forgetful unless you fall.
Which brings us to the highlight of the trail. The ridge. It's steep. Any misstep will lead to a great tumble. Don't fear death as you are always less than a mile from the scenic highway. Do fear black bear in the summer months, they get crazy cranky. Also pay no heed to the sound of gunfire. It’s just the police department firing range near the old Ward Creek Dam. Which is why it is best not to stray too far off the blaze. Don't worry if you do get shot, cell phone coverage on the trail is good. GPS is sketchy though, so don't get lost. If you do get lost, the train passes every half hour, you can follow the sound of the horn downhill and it will lead you to town.
Favorite things of note on the trail: the trail tree and the giant cross. Trail trees aren't myth, unfortunately this one was killed in the 2013 ice storm but it is still a beauty to behold. I am not going to tell you where the giant cross is lest you wander off trail and get lost or shot or mauled. Simply know that when you are in town on a clear night, from the old Shaver House, looking up toward Rich Mountain, the cross will be a tiny landmark lit upon the mountain. Know that at some point during the loop you were a few stones throw from it. Hike long and Hike wild.
Flora & Fauna
See deer, fox, eagle, groundhog, bear, and the ocassional badger. No Yeti have been observed.
Shared By: il coyote