There are tons of smaller boulders and rocks for kids to scamper around on. Pay attention as it can be easy for younger kids to become disoriented with so many boulders and thick underbrush.
Penitentiary Hollow does close when there is any notable rainfall to reduce wear and erosion on the already popular area. Signage is posted at the gate upon entrance to the park as well as at the northern parking lot at the entrance to the area. All restrictions or alerts can be viewed at the park's website.
You can begin your journey at either end of this trail. It is a bit easier to navigate if you start on the southern end of the trail as outlined in this description.
If starting from the northern end, by Penitentiary Hollow, it can be difficult to get on the actual trail as there are lots of climbing trail offshoots throughout this area. When starting from the southern parking area, you follow the trail quickly down a fairly steep grade over many rocks of all sizes. Utilize the red trail markers to find your way.
Once at the bottom of the hill, the trail will head north and follow the shoreline of the lake, so close at times you almost feel like you might actually get wet. The trail surface is mostly rock laden, but does have some mixed hard pack intertwined here and there. The best advice for this short, but challenging hike is to pay attention to foot placement or you'll likely take a tumble. Also keep your eyes peeled for the red trail markers to ensure that you don't end up off trail at one of the many climbing areas.
Overall, this is the most enjoyable short trail you'll likely find within hours of here. It is home to some great rock formations and holds surprises around every corner.
Flora & Fauna
While mapping this trail, no snakes where observed, but rest assured they are present with so many rocks to hide under. Again, the best advice is not to get in a hurry and look where you are stepping to avoid any encounters with the serpent population.