Sunday, November 9, 2008

Indian Cliffs Trail Hike

Imagine this view.  It's what greets you when you take the Indian Cliffs Trail hike:  an uninterrupted view of the Split Rock Reservoir. Talk about a breathtaking view from which you can see forever!   


Here's how to get there. Essentially, begin as you did for the Split Rock Reservoir Trail Hike, by parking at the end of Beechwood Lane [west of Red Oak Lane] and then proceeding on foot.  The trail head - located between lots #20 and #21 - leads to Mountain Road trail which runs from North to South [and is most probably the extension of Mountain Road in Smoke Rise]. As the description reads "this is basically an old woods road which is quite wet in spots during the wet season." Mountain Road trail is marked with blue blazes.

As you head south on Mountain Road, you will notice a trail to the right, marked with red blazes - not as obviously marked as the white trail toward Split Rock Reservoir which is further south. However, it definitely looks like a trail [in fact, we headed off in that direction when we first went off toward Split Rock thinking it might be the trail.  We back tracked when we saw NO white blazes.] 
The view from the bottom on Indian Cliffs!
Proceed then to the right [west] and slightly up hill [north] and then quickly to the left [west] again.  The trail is narrow and winding, and becomes increasingly steep as you climb up to Indian Cliffs.

In many ways, this trail is a lesser trail.  You walk one person at a time, and the falling leaves obscured much of the trail.  We almost missed the left/west turn part.  If it hadn't been for bumping into Bjorn Walbritt and his family - ironically and serendipitously, the first subscribers to this blog - we would have headed back into Smoke Rise!  [I can't even describe how eerily wonderful it is to bump into people in the woods who not only offer directions, but also tell you they recognize you because of The Smoke Rise Blog!]  Thank you, Walbritt Family!

So, together - a party now numbering 11 - we headed up toward Indian Cliffs.

Tom Kline had warned me that he had noticed bear scat along the trail [also see these bear scat photos].  We were prepared with an air horn and lots of noisy kids.  Personally, I was happy to have added company - just in case! 

After enjoying the view, we continued on, following the trail down to Split Rock Reservoir level, from the north side of Indian Cliffs. We quickly transitioned from broad vistas and rocky outcroppings to forest and towering trees.

In many ways, this is the ideal trail because of the extremes of terrain.  At forest level, we were able to admire the base of the dramatic rock formations as you can see from the photo above.

Some other surprises:  we encountered this tree, in what seemed to us to be the middle of the wilderness, covered with carvings from the 50s, 60s and 70s.  It made us wonder what kind of stories this place had to share.

From the tree, we continued a bit west [with Bjorn's help] and quickly encountered the Charlotteburg road which we took a left on [i.e., South] and continued on to meet up with the White/Split Rock Reservoir trail to proceed back to our starting point.

However, as we trekked South along the Charlotteburg road, we came across multiple vestiges of abandoned cars... rusted fenders, rotted out back seats, lone engines, wheels and a few tires.  We joked that we had almost come up with enough parts for a full car...  According to Tom, this is where cars stolen from Newark used to be driven to and then torched.  Maybe there's a connection between the car parts and the carved tree?  Hmmm.  

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