Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Sturtevant Falls, Top of the Falls Trail

The girls in the water fall.
It turned out to be a girl's hike except with Kurtis. The guys were away at Manhood Camp at Biola University. I didn't want to go to far because I knew we would be headed out alter than usual. I chose to return to Sturtevant Falls but take the (Lower) Top of the Falls trail because we had not taken it before. 
The girls almost chose not to take the new trail, but stick to the the Sturtevant trail we had taken before. I am so glad I convinced them otherwise. You have to follow the Sturtevant Falls trail until you get to Fiddlers Crossing. On the left, there is a sign that points to both Top of the Falls trails.

The first pool, the second pool and beyond to the third pool and waterfall falling from the rock.

From there the (Lower) Top of the Falls trails begins. It is a bit steep and possibly confusing at first as the trail is vague and you have to step around a few boulders. It gets very narrow at times as well as being in full sun a lot.

This is no place for strollers or unruly toddlers.
At one point I considered turning back. We were at the top of Sturtevant Falls and the trail becomes extremely narrow and you are on a cliff face with a precarious view of the falls below that reminds you how HIGH up you really are.

A small white frog that blended into the rock.
I did a little reconnaissance and determined it was ok and safe. We continued along the trail which turns into slanted rock that we've encountered at other various trails. We also started to see pools, potentially for swimming if we could find a good point of access.

We finally found a spot that appeared easily accessible. The water was clear but with a murky bottom we recognized for this area. The pool we were in had random stones, branches and debri making footing unsure and the water was cold.
This spot actually had three pools, each smaller than the one before it, leading to a water fall that was more like a wide shower streaming from a rock over head. The end of the first pool, after the deepest spot, had a boulder you have to step up onto to get out and into the second pool.

Coming back through the rock crevice from the falls, through the 2nd pool.

This was a challenge for me because K was on my back, stating he was afraid. I offered to leave him back with our friend, Ms. Sharon but he refused. Stepping into the second pool is also a challenge because the bottom is not flat. It is a pool on top of two rocks that meet sort of in a V formation. We eventually had to straddle the water with a foot on each rock face.

After the second pool we cross a shallow and short stream within the rock crevice to the third pool. Kurtis again declared how frightened he was and refused to move any further, even though he could touch the bottom. The girls shimmied under the water fall so I could at least get a pic. I was not able to get over there with Kurtis in his state.

The initial swimming hole.

Getting back was very difficult with Kurtis and became more and more frustrating. The trail eventually leads to a hike in campground but we stopped very short of it once we found this swimming area. Once we finally returned to the other side, we ate lunch.

A few young woman were rushing back from farther along the trail and informed us they had just seen a bear, about two minutes away, larger than them. The girls with me seemed to get frightened. I've never seen them get their shoes on so quickly and scramble up the ravine back to the trail!

However, I knew it was unsafe if they were not going to be calm. I called them back down and explained how we needed to remain calm to be safe, reminded them to make noise and I reassured them that I don't think a large bear could maneuver along such a narrow trail.

The scramble down to the swimming hole.

We quickly but calmly left the area and headed back safely. Keep in mind, when hiking, you are out in nature and there is always a chance to run into wild life. Pay attention to all posted signs. We never saw the bear. We did see lizards, a salamander, frog, and butterflies. Kids might find this hike adventurous due to teh swimming and narrow trails. Always use caution and be safe.

The trail does get a good deal of sun--wear sunscreen and/or a hat or whatever sun protection wear you normally find appropriate. Always hydrate the day before and double check expected weather conditions.

That is the shallow pool Sturtevant Falls empties into...way below us.
Sturtevant Falls hiking trail, is on the most beautiful. There is a steep asphalt hill leading to the initial trail. It is about .6 mile long. Then there are some smaller inclines along the dirt trail itself. I love this hike especially for the cabins and history. Across the creek, you may even see someone siting outside their cabin.

Reminder there are no-vault toilets at the top of the trail and parking requires a $5 one day use only-Adventure Parking pass.

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