A few weekends ago, I returned to one of my favorite hikes- a series of unofficial trails around Mountain Springs Lake. This hike is superb because it has it all- lakes, ponds, views, cascades, beautiful streams, and history. This was also a bootbuster- a roughly 16 mile dayhike by combining hike numbers 27 and 29 in my book, Hiking the Endless Mountains, with a side hike to Coyote Rocks.
I met Ryan and his dog Cali at the parking area near The Meadows. Ryan had not been here before. The morning sky was clear and blue, as clouds hung in the valleys far below. It was going to be a hot day, with temperatures near 90 degrees. I have not hiked in such heat in a long time.
First up was beautiful Beech Lake, a natural lake, as it glimmered in the morning sun. Nearby was blooming rhodora. We then followed the trail along a cliff line with great views of Mountain Springs Lake. We dropped down to Bowmans Creek where we cooled off in a swimming hole below the former site of a lake used for ice making almost a hundred years ago. A hike along Bowmans Creek followed under thick hemlocks that provided some refuge from the heat.
We then hiked up along Bean Run with its angular boulders and cliffs before crossing over the plateau with fern meadows down to Wolf Run. We left our circuit to do a side hike to Coyote Rocks, with a wonderful, untouched view of the Bowmans Creek drainage looking into Ricketts Glen. Hawks soared above us.
We continued down Wolf Run and reached Bowmans Creek again. The hike along this pristine stream is a joy, with its pools, rhododendrons, and hemlocks. We crossed the creek via a log, since the old wooden railroad trestle was torn out in the last flood. We continue onto Mountain Springs Lake as the heat grew heavier. The lake was serene as thickening clouds grew overhead. We followed the new trail along the north shore of the lake and up Bowmans Creek; it was a very nice walk.
We soon crossed into Ricketts Glen State Park and I found the turn to hike up Cherry Run. Cherry Run is Ricketts Glen’s secret gem, it is a truly beautiful place. As we hiked up the narrow gorge, we were met with a blast of cool air from the moss covered rocks and hemlock forests. Deep pools enticed us from below.
The trail wound to the top of the plateau and followed the rim. A stiff breeze kept us cool as we followed an abandoned, straight, narrow gauge railroad through the hemlocks that blocked out the sun. We soon returned to our cars, tired, dirty, sweaty, muddy, and bug-bitten- but happy.
Afterwards was a meal at the Central Park Hotel, with good food, good prices, and great local flavor. I love it back in there with the narrow valley and towering green mountains.
Pictures of the hike.
Where we parked to begin the hike.