Sunday, April 17, 2016
Laurel Fork Creek - BSF
West Entrance trail 1.7 to
Laurel Fork Creek trail. 6.9
Fork Ridge Trail 3.8 to
Black House Branch trail 2.0 to
Jacks Loop Trail 1.0 to
road walk .5
West Bandy Creek Bike trail 1.4
Total Miles: 17.3
Lora and I headed out to the Big South Fork for a weekend backpack. We started at the West Entrance trailhead and took the West Entrance trail to the Laurel Fork Creek trail. The weather was great and the water was still cool for our eleven or so crossings of the Laurel Fork Creek. Lots of wildflowers on this trail. We hiked to the John Muir trail and then backtracked to the first good camping spot on the Creek.
While we were hiking, we met one of the rangers. He filled us in about the ten or fifteen year project where the Big South Fork is installing pavers on the horse trails. They got a grant and stock piled pavers which they located all over the BSF. Every year they put in one or two crossings. He also told us about the five year plan they have for clearing trails throughout the park.
There were two lost horse riders, and two other sets of backpackers that first day. We also saw a grouse, many migrating butterflies, turkey, and lots of birds. We saw a large bull frog which was hopping so high he would make anyone proud at a frog jumping contest. That night, there is no telling how many owls we heard. They talked all night long.
The next day we took the Fork Ridge trail back to the Black House Branch trail. Fork Ridge is a steep climb; the signs tell riders to lead their animals. We crossed the Laurel Fork again and headed up to the Jack's Loop trail. Lunch time we sat on a gate by the road. 3 lady horse riders came by and inspected and critiqued our lunch. We didn't tell them about the brownies we had for dessert. From Jacks Ridge we hiked back to the road and then took the bike trail back to the West Entrance trailhead. We met one bike rider. He was definitely going to get a workout on this trail. It goes up and down the ridge into creek gorges, past rock overhangs. Much more interesting than the road walk with gravel dust flying.
It was a beautiful hike.