Last year we began a tradition of having a First Day Hike, a concept that has spread across the nation over the last few years. This year, we decided to keep the tradition alive. Despite the frigid 9 degree temperatures, the bright sun provided some motivation to hike as five brave souls met me at the parking area in Ricketts Glen State Park. While surrounding areas were free of snow, over six inches covered the trails in the park, giving the impression that this was in fact winter.
This hike was about 5 or 6 miles long and we began by hiking down to the breached Glen Leigh dam, an old, crumbling concrete structure that is odd for a dam since it is essentially hollow. We passed above some frozen waterfalls and hiked along the headwaters of Bowmans Creek under deep green boughs of hemlocks. Maples and birch trees with rolls of peeling bark rose through the forest. The temperatures warmed a little since we were out of the wind. The trail was beautiful as it explored peaceful forests and countless animal tracks across the snow.
We turned left onto the new Little Cherry Run Trail, the most scenic section of the hike. Everyone loved this trail as it climbed up a gorge with a tumbling stream that had several small waterfalls and cascades. Large rocks and boulders loomed overhead. The gorge was draped in snow and ice flows. Two bridges offered easy passage over the frozen stream as the sound of the falling water filled the gorge. The water was reddish from the swamps upstream. For those that tire of the crowded Falls Trail, be sure to hike the Little Cherry Run Trail.
The trail leveled off through a beautiful, deep, green hemlock forest as we crossed small meandering streams. The frigid sunlight cast shadows across the snow. We turned left onto the Cherry Run Trail and returned to the dam to complete the loop. We retraced our steps back to the cars. Join us for next year’s First Day Hike!