Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lone Mountain State Forest

Day one: 5.05 miles
Smokey Bear 1.9
Dailey 1.5
Coyote 0.2
Southwest 1.2
Horseshoe Flats 0.25
Day Two: 8.3
Horseshoe Flats 0.7
Twister Pass 1.0
Sawmill 1.3
Longest Mile 2.4
Smokey Bear 1.9
Total Miles: 13.35

Lora and I headed out for our first backpack of the season.......well, maybe just a little too early. We headed to Lone Mountain State Forest. We found that the map on the internet is an old map and they have made some important changes to the trail system here. Also, after talking to the ranger, which reported that Rankin Springs is the only water source, we found many water sources and Rankin Springs is not impressive as a clean water source. Don't tell the many many frogs that are living in the spring.

The new map, which is impressively hanging on the kiosk, not only gives trail names and miles, it also shows the new gravel road that they added through the middle. The ranger did tell us that the safest place to park overnight is at the Forestry Headquarters which is right across from the main trailhead.

We started out at the Smokey Bear trailhead.  We found out really quick that when they do trail maintenance they do it with a bulldozer. We did not see the "Lounge Rock" coming or going back. We will have to find out more about this. We took the Dailey trail to Rankin Springs. Rankin Springs has some dirty looking water, but frogs were all the way around it and swimming as well. There is a small pond there. some hitching posts, and a picnic table.

We continued out to Coyote Point. There is a picnic table and trash can out there. The view is growing smaller with the trees, but it is a beautiful view. It is a great place for a rest. From there we went down the mountain on the Southwest trail looking for water and a camping spot. We noticed the creek lines on the map and wanted to check them out. We hung a right and went Northwest on Horseshoe Flats. The first creek line has a spring coming out of the rocks and we made camp just beyond in a clear wooded area. It felt good to wash up after a day of sweating. The weather let us know that it is not backpacking season yet.

We didn't bother with the fire tonight. We did listen to an owl talking during our dinner. The woods was full of noises of critters and we heard two different trees fall. Makes you check your hammock tree again.

The next morning we continued on the Horseshoe Flats, which we did not know turned into the new BMP road. The Horseshoe Flats turns left and continues to just above the Sawmill. Twister Pass trail, used to be Twister Gap, Still starts from the Horseshoe Flats, but is now bisected by the BMP road. Anyways, we took the Twister Pass trail down back to the Southwest trail. This trail was overgrown quite a bit. At this intersection there is a good sized creek. The Southwest trail has two bridges built over it.

We took the Saw Mill trail back up and found that the end of it is now the BMP road and the Horseshoe flats trail comes into the BMP road. The BMP road goes all the way to Poplar Patch parking AKA Carl Black Spur trailhead. We took the Longest Mile trail back to the Smokey Bear trail and out.

We saw lots of frogs, toads, too many spiders, a skunk, a tiny salamander, and lots of birds.


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