by Bill and Mary Burnham (Falcon Guides)
© 2013 Bill and Mary Burnham/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
First, a quick note on directions--if you're following the Burnham Falcon guide, they've got a mistake a mile 7.3. It's a right turn on the Hazel Mountain Trail, not a left. You can save yourself the two miles of wandering about that I did. Valuable lesson learned, though. Trust the map and the compass before trusting the written directions. That said, I liked this hike quite a bit. The sidetrip to Hazel Falls--more a cascade, really--is challenging and worth it. The hike along the Hazel River is beautiful with the sound of running water, settlement ruins, and several pleasantly challenging stream crossings. The climb up Sam's Ridge is a brute. There's not a whole lot left of the settlement ruins up there. All I noted was one foundation. Then comes that bad direction and the hike up to Skyline Drive. Didn't see much wildlife. And no bears, which is fine with me. I've been reading too much about bears lately. They're freaking me out.
We started our hike from Pinnacles overlook. We briefly surveyed the panoramic view and the sign, which labeled the peaks in front of us, then headed over the side of the overlook following the 1.24 spur trail to Catlett Mountain trail. The descent was a bit steep in places.
Our next segment of trail was on the Catlett Mountain trail for 1.2 miles. We checked out an old homestead foundation with the remains of a root cellar. Our next "jog" was a 0.5 mile spur. After another 0.2 mile spurt we reached Sam''s Ridge Trail.
After lunch we trudged down the rest of “Sam’s Hill” and reached Hazel River. Here we proceeded up the Hazel River trail for approximately 1.9 miles. The grade followed the River for ½ a mile, gently working off our lunch. After a stream crossing it was all uphill for quite awhile. This trail looked like a billy goat mountain path, straight up and down for the most part. It eventually leveled out to smaller ups and levels. We passed through burnt out territory from the Fall 2000 Old Rag fire.
We encountered our next intersection with the approximately 1.0 mile section of the White Rocks trail. We came upon said rocks off to our left on an unmarked side trail. Next intersection was the signpost for the falls themselves. Down the 300-yard trail we hustled, racing against the sunset. The falls are not impressive but are pretty, with a lacy cascading effect. However, the feature that most attracted our attention was the ice formations on a log branch, which had fallen to the base of the falls.
On we ambled along the remaining 2.65 miles on the Hazel Mountain trail up to Skyline Drive. We reached the Drive and pushed ourselves another 2.2 miles up the never ending slope of the Drive.
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