Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Stone Door + Laurel Falls Trails (Savage Gulf S.P.) 10/23/2009

After finishing up with Grundy Day Loop Trail, Jackie and I decided that we had enough time to try the Stone Door. We got there around 3pm. The trail began after the ranger station. There was a wooden trail sign for peopel to sign in on. We signed in and saw that to the right was the Stone Door Trail and to the left was the Laurel Falls Loop Trail. We went right.
Trail Sign

The trail started off easily enough, it was paved. There are bridges over all the water crossings. The trail lazily winds its way through the trees. After about 1/3 mile thee is a trail to the right leading to a privative camp site. We kept going. After about a 1/2 mile we cane to Laurel Overlook. The views here ware great. All of Savage Gulf spread out before us. We could see fall colors in all directions, rocks shown from the top of the plateau. We took lots of pictures. We could see the Stone Door From where we were.
View from Overlook
Stone Door from Overlook

Pictures done, we began to hike again. The pavement ends about 50 yards past the overlook. We met a group of people coming back. They were mostly 50+ in age. I hope to be able to hike when I get their age. We continued winding our way along the now dirt trail. The trees were tall, but not much variety in color. Mainly the trail was just a stroll in the woods.

After a mile we came to the Stone Door. the grass and dirt gave way to bare rock and moss. There were a couple of stunted trees growing there. The rock went out to a point and then there was a small gap and the other part of the point went out maybe 60 feet further. Just before the crack, the trail turned to the right and went down a crevasse where it joined with another trail. The trail going down went between the plateau and the point forming the door. By looking down the trail you can see that the point was still attached to the plateau proper, but the only way to go out onto the point was to step over the crack.
The Crack

So we took all of this in. Jackie stepped over the crack and out onto the point. I walked up and put one foot over the crack and looked down. The fall to the right side was further than that on the left. I don't like heights to begin with and this did not help any. It was windy the day that we went and I had to hold onto my hat the whole time we were on the point. There were a few stunted trees growing there, mainly pines. Moss was also growing on the rocks. The views from here were great though. We could see up all three branches of the Gulf. We took several pictures from here. Also we just sat for a bit and took it all in.

After pictures were done we walked down the tail through the crevasse. There was a twisted and dead tree by the top of the trail. Small stone steps had been placed on this part of the trail to help with going up or down. Still it was tough going. Our calves were burning by the bottom. The steps would be very slippery when wet. We took pictures and climbed back up. we then went back to the trail head the way we came.
Stone Steps

Once we got back to the sign we decided to hike the Laurel Falls Loop Trail. The trail can either be hike by going strait at the sign or taking a right and go
ing down. We went strait. The trail descended down to the creek. At the creek there was a trail to the left that went to an old grist mill. The trail was dirt, no pavement. At the grist mill there was nothing really to see, just a broken concrete wall.
Laurel Falls

Over the Edge

About .05 miles from the spur trail, the trail came to the top of the falls. There is a small 3 step cascade before the falls proper. Jackie and I took some pictures there and I took one holding the camera over the edge of the falls. It turned out pretty well. jackie and I followed the trail again and went to a steel overlook. We took several pictures there. Once done we climbed the trail back to the parking lot. The climb back up was steep and there were metal stairs for people tu use. It was a good trip.

Total Miles hiked: 2.5

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