by Janie & Wyatt Jones (Falcon Guides)
© 2004 Janie & Wyatt Jones/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
I've done this trail system 4 times. Let's preface this review with that, as I don't typically do a trail system more than once.
This is, by far, the best trail system I've ever set foot on. There are several distinct trails, but the two that are my favorite are the Rockafeller Trail (12 mile loop) and the trail to the Falls. No matter what group you take, you will not be disappointed.
The Rockafeller Trail is a challenge. It encircles the entire park, and descends and ascends the mountain. You will interconnect with each trail in the park, so you can easily turn this into 15+ miles, but the main trail isn't that far. The views from the the top of the mountain are amazing, and there are several overlooks that give you a great view of the falls. Use caution: I've seen someone fall off the edge once.
The trail to the bottom of the falls, though, is the best part of this park. The descent/ascent is difficult, but worth it. Once you get to the bottom, the river gives you some great photo moments. Follow the river the waterfall, and just enjoy the view! The adventurous can take the side of the pond and climb right underneath the falls. The sides are slick, so beware. And don't go in the pond. State law.
If you hike one trail system in this state, this is the one. Period.
We went on a Sunday afternoon, and the trail had a lot of hikers, but was not "crowded." It is a great hike, very beautiful. There were some wet rocks from recent rain, but the trail is well-marked and in excellent condition. This IS a strenuous trail. There are many areas where you have a very long step up or down from one rock to another. It can be steep in some areas; it is going from the top of a mountain to the valley below. A walking stick or trekking pole is a very good idea. It does take a lot of stamina to get back up; it's easy to overdo on the easy parts and end up out of breath on the steeper areas. But there is room to stop to breathe and still let others get by.
I've been to this trail many times, and now that my kids are old enough to negotiate it with us, we'll go many more times.
This is one of the best hikes we've had -- the trail was very well maintained and easy to follow. Although the warnings at the trail head need to be taken seriously, we (two senior citizens) had no problems at all.
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