Hike the Salt Springs Circuit-Salt Springs State Park

Salt Springs State Park is an excellent place to hike with over fourteen miles of trails from which you can do a variety of loops.  The park has diverse scenery with waterfalls, gorge, old growth hemlocks, meadows, streams, and some nice views.  The park’s namesake is a small bubbling spring close to the main parking area.  The park offers cabins, and has a campground.  The Friends of Salt Springs Park helps maintain the trails.

This eight mile loop contains some of the best scenery in the park. It follows a lot of different trails, with many turns.  It is easy to shorten, or lengthen the loop.  It explores some of the less popular areas of the park, and features a lot of streams and hemlock forests.  The meadows along this route offer wildflowers, wildlife, and bird watching, not to mention views.  There is even a beautiful grove of spruce trees.  Begin at the right side of the barn at the parking area and follow the red Silver Creek Trail into beautiful hemlocks above Silver Creek.  Climb up the slope to an old woods road and then descend into a hardwood forest.  Pass a juncture with the North Creek Trail, which crosses Silver Creek without a bridge and features meadows; it is a nice alternative route.

Reach some hemlocks and the trail splits, go right onto the blue Border Trail.  This trail goes to a small seasonal stream and begins a steep climb along it.  At the top is a rock overhang and wet weather falls that is beautiful when flowing.  Leave the Border Trail and continue on the Meadow Trail, making sure to veer straight or left at the start of the Meadow Trail loop.  This is a great trail, featuring stone walls, wildflowers, and explores the edge of the valley.  Pass some meadows and odd rock outcrops.  Descend along more meadows and reach Buckley Road with a nice view.  Follow Buckley Road to the right.  This road is gated and is basically an old forest road.  Turn left onto the blue Border Trail.  Hike on some boardwalks across some wet areas.  

Reach the white Spruce Trail and turn left; keep an eye out for this turn.  Enter a beautiful grove of spruce trees, a highlight of the hike.  Hike down to a small stream and walk along it and then cross a dirt road.  Pass some ruins and reach the Wetlands Trail and turn left; turning right and crossing the creek would be a shortcut, but hiking along Fall Brook is scenic. 

Hike down along Fall Brook, enjoying views over the water and cross a series of meadows.  Reach Buckley Road, turn right and cross the bridge, and then turn right on the red Fall Brook Trail.  The Bunny Trail soon joins, but follow the Fall Brook Trail, which features more views of the creek and lots of hemlocks.  Climb from the creek and follow Bunny to Cliff Trails with rock outcrops.  Follow Cliff Trail with open hardwood forests and large ledges above the trail.  Climb up to the Frog Pond, really just a shallow vernal pool and continue on the Cliff Trail.  Pass an old quarry, which still has cut flagstone.  Descend and rejoin the Bunny Trail again.  Reach a parking area and turn right onto the white Friends Trail with meadows and some views.  The Friends Trail makes a sharp left and crosses the road and a large meadow with great views.  Enter the woods and turn left onto Hardwood and then Hemlock Trail, with its stunning old growth hemlocks and boardwalk along the rim of the gorge.  Descend to the picnic area and see the salt spring.  To see the gorge and falls, hike up Fall Brook.  The trail that had been there is largely washed away.  You can climb up the first falls to see the second falls and the heart of the gorge.  It is beautiful.  Retrace your steps and go to the parking area.  Be aware on this hike there was no footbridge across Fall Brook.

Parking is at  41.912027, -75.865623.  After the hike, stop by Endless Brewing nearby, a great microbrewery.

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