This hike is a combination of the Spring, Ridge, and Utoy Creek trails in Cascade Springs Nature Preserve. Part of a more complex trail network, this is primarily the outer loop, although you can choose to lengthen or shorten your hike as desired with the other trails at the preserve.
From the parking area, follow a boardwalk past ruins of an old house/bath and across a bridge. Take a left immediately after crossing the bridge to repeat this loop, following the creek to the east. This is the Spring Trail
. The best feature is at the end of the initial leg, where the water comes through an underpass of the road, and then flows through some rocks.
Climb briefly from the viewing area and up one switchback for the only ascent of the hike. Stay left at the marked intersections to join the Ridge Trail Connector
from the Spring Trail
. The map shown takes this well-traveled shortcut across a bow in the full Ridge Trail
, reducing the overall distance by ~0.2 mi.
Continue to follow the Ridge Trail
, passing a few side trails or turns, in the direction of Utoy Creek. Signs for Utoy Creek will take you to a single switchback leading down to Utoy Creek Trail
, which is flat and runs next to the creek. Take a right to head back to the trailhead.
The best feature is the expansive woods close to the city, although road and traffic can be seen from the perimeter areas, especially in the winter. Small side trails lead down to the creeks. Remains of Civil War earthworks are visible along the Ridge Trail