Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Multiple trails, Easy to Strenuous
It was a new location for all of us and we were eager to try out some of our brand new back packing equipment. Before we even arrived to our destination, the drive had turned into a fantastic adventure. As we came around a bend, we noticed little wobbly baby lambs and their mother off in a field. The buzzards were also nearby, keeping a close eye on the event unfolding. We were instantly smitten with this adorable little trio. Upon closer inspection, we realized something more amazing had just taken place. The mother had just given birth, not long before we had arrived upon the scene, the remnants of the event still very visible. The babies were already nursing though, somewhat unsteadily. It was a beautiful scene of nature, the natural world doing what it does best. We all felt honored to share in a intimate moment of the natural world.
* Because I'm not sure everyone would want to see those pictures I have included them at the very end of this blog post. Scroll down and check them out *
Finding our way
We had some challenges navigating here, though I am not sure if it was Google Maps or the auto app on my phone. There was some confusion as the map kept suggesting we had arrived at our location which was actually a random home. The actual turn we needed to take was a mile down the road which we did eventually find. So, keep your eyes open, State Park Road is where you'll need to go. It is a seemingly unimportant gravel road. There is nothing along this road to hint that you are going the right direction other than the fact the river is adjacent. So, don't fret, eventually you'll end up at the parking area and you will most definitely know you have arrived.
At the start of the trail there are Porta-poties, picnic tables, and map/trail information, as well as the swinging bridge. I am terrified of heights and loath most swinging bridges. However, as one must often do, facing the fear is worth the reward. So, to my peeps who are not a fan of such, if i can do this, so can you. I am not a graceful adventurer in such situations, but i prevail and that is all that counts. You can do it.
Although the trail starts out momentarily like a trail, the majority of your hike is not what I would describe as a trail, but more similar to a forest service road. In fact, I did see some vehicle tracks along the way. There are only a handful of spots that require a little attention when navigating. The majority, and I do mean majority, of your hike along the Big Cedar Creek trail is easy, with a couple small inclines, on a very smooth dirt path.
For hiking enthusiasts, a more challenging trail intercepts the Big Cedar Creek trail 0.4 miles in. The Grapevine Hill Trail is 1.3 miles long and is listed as strenuous. This trail rejoins the main hiking path on down the line, so don't worry about missing the falls. You can have your cake and eat it to.
For graveyard junkies, Skyes Cemetary sits roughly 20 yards just beyond this sign on the Spring Falls Trail to your left. This graveyard is filled with beautiful old markers that I think you'll enjoy. Please proceed with caution in this area if the grass is high, some of the old stones are lying broken on the ground and are easy to miss.
Continuing on the Spring Falls Trail, you will walk directly through the pavilion and out on the other side on a dirt footpath. While this trail is easy, please take caution when descending down onto the falls.
After lots of pictures and noticing some bear scat on the ground, we headed back to the trail intersection leading to the Big Falls. This hill, on both sides, is really your only notable climb. At the bottom of this trail there were no signs directing you to the falls, but I feel like its a pretty obvious. Turn right, down a dirt path leading to the river bank. Honestly, unless you want to bushwhack your way around, you will not miss this turn.
Although the falls were beautiful and were the sole reason for visiting this area, it was the wild little river otter that completely stole our hearts. I have never seen one in the wild and completely lost my mind over it. It was so freaking adorable, and it was super curious about us. Look how stinking cute!
This trail does follow the river and has benches along the way for sitting. I encourage you to take advantage of this as the wild life here is abundant. Taking a moment to sit quietly might score you a wild wonderful sighting. On our visit cranes, ducks, deer and otters were just out there living life. So, take a moment and immerse yourself in their world.
A crane getting ready to take off
Come have an adventure! I will note this area is known to be crowded during weekends and holidays, visiting during unpopular hours is your best bet to see nature.
Look at this proud Mama and her babies.
As always, keep it safe, keep it cool, and stay curious.