This portion of the Central Hardwoods Scenic Trail consists of compacted stone with little elevation change in comparison with the other non-paved sections.
The Golden Pond Trailhead can be found behind the Visitor Center, which has a playground and picnic area. Less than 0.25 miles from the Visitor Center, a spur off the main trail leads to a tunnel that kids will enjoy.
The trail goes north along Forest Service Road 163 and then turns onto an unlabeled maintenance road before going back into the woods (reverse directions if coming from the Meredith trailhead). Pay attention to signs and the Hiking Project mobile app
during this portion as the trail is not otherwise obvious.
Other unique features of this section of the trail include a bridge that kids will enjoy playing on and a beautiful cedar grove.
The Meredith Trailhead is not visible from Highway 68/80. You must turn on a narrow, gravel drive. After driving about 50 yards, you'll arrive at a gravel parking lot.
Many people set out on this trail and hike a portion of it before retracing their steps and returning to their vehicle. Whether seeking a peaceful walk in the woods, a trail run, or an intermediate bike trail, this is a great trail.
The trail showcases hardwood forests, especially oak and hickory trees. This section, however, also has a beautiful cedar grove that some locals call the "Ewok Forest" after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Watch out for poison oak and poison ivy. As always, spray for ticks, and be alert for venomous snakes.