Friday, February 5, 2010

Indiana Hiking Trails - Clifty Falls State Park

[caption id="attachment_437" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Indiana Hiking Trails - Clifty Falls State Park"]Indiana Hiking Trails - Clifty Falls State Park[/caption]

At Clifty Falls State Park
Near Madison, Indiana
12 trails at Clifty Falls which total about twelve miles. The trail descriptions are not meant to take the place of a map, nor are they meant to be detailed trail descriptions. Trail maps are available free at the entrance stations.

Trail One
Rugged
.75 mile.
This one starts at the Nature Center, which is near Clifty Inn. This is the trail you would use to access the rim trails of the canyon and Trail Two, which follows the course of Clifty Creek if you are staying at the Inn. This trail also leads to the observation tower, which affords a spectacular view to the Ohio River.




Trails At Clifty Falls State Park
Near Madison, Indiana
12 trails at Clifty Falls which total about twelve miles. The trail descriptions are not meant to take the place of a map, nor are they meant to be detailed trail descriptions. Trail maps are available free at the entrance stations.

Trail One
Rugged
.75 mile.
This one starts at the Nature Center, which is near Clifty Inn. This is the trail you would use to access the rim trails of the canyon and Trail Two, which follows the course of Clifty Creek if you are staying at the Inn. This trail also leads to the observation tower, which affords a spectacular view to the Ohio River.

Trail Two
3 miles
Rugged
This trail follows the bed of Clifty Creek. The trail is very tough walking, and may be totally impassable during periods of heavy rainfall. That said, the hike is quite pretty. It is also usually fairly busy, as a lot of people enjoy hiking this trail. The trail originally connected at the north end with a staircase which climbed out of the canyon and up to Clifty Shelter. This staircase has been removed, so if you pass the connecting trail which climbs up to Trail 8, you will be on a dead end and have to return. However, if you want to see Clifty Falls from the base this is the only place you can. It is worth the hike to the falls, because the area around the Falls is wild and pretty. There are connecting trails to Trail 8, Trail 5, and Trail 4. Bear in mind these trails can be somewhat hard to spot as you hike the bed of creek.



Trail 3
Rugged
1 mile
This trail starts on the west side of the main park road, about a quarter mile south of Poplar Grove Shelter. There is a parking area near the trail head. Trail 3 descends a fairly steep stair, connects with Trail 1, and then proceeds north along the canyon rim. It meets Trail 4 at the Hoffman Falls Overlook. Parts of this trail are fairly level. The veiw of the canyon is awesome, especially in the early spring and autumn.

Trail 4
Rugged
.75 mile
The south trail head is at the Hoffman Falls parking area, where the trail connects with Trail 3. The north trail head is at teh Lily Memorial parking area. The trail connects with Trail 5 at this point. There is also a connecting spur which drops down into the canyon to meet Trail 2 near the midpoint. The trail follows a portion of the rim of Clifty Canyon on the east side.



Trail 5
Rugged
.875 miles
The north trail head is located at the Tunnel Falls parking area. The trail may be entered from the south at the Lily Memorial, where the trail connects with Trail 4. There is a connecting spur below Oak Grove Shelter which descends to Trail 2. There are two interesting features on this trail. One is an old rail tunnel which may be hiked through, as a diversion to the trail. The floor of this tunnel is usually wet and slippery. It is also dark, so you will need a flashlight to proceed through. hike this with caution. And please be respectful of wildlife, as there can be bats on the roof of the tunnel. Disturb them as little as possible. The other feature is on the north terminus of the trail. Deans Branch creates a waterfall here as it tumbles 83 feet into the canyon on its way to Clifty Creek. The hike along the canyon rim from the falls to Oak Grove Shelter is pleasant and restful. But be careful, the trail hugs the rim of the canyon closely and there is no guard rail, so watch small children carefully. It is an 80 foot drop to the rocks below.

Trail 6
Moderately Rugged
.5 mile
This is a short, rugged trail which connects Lookout Point on the north to Hickory Grove Picnic Shelter on the south. It hugs the cliff and has some rocky footing in places.

Trail 7
Moderately Rugged
1.25 miles
This can be hiked as a loop trail from Clifty Shelter. It descends an impressive staircase on the south end of the Clifty Shelter Picnic Area, near the Clifty Falls lookout area. It follows along a rock wall, descends another stair way to a wooden bridge across Little Clifty Creek to Little Clifty Falls. This falls drops sixty feet into the gorge below. Just past the falls, a spur leads over to Lookout Point, where it connects with Trail 6. If you turn left at the spur and follow the main trail it will cross Little Clifty Creek again, loop back around to Clifty Shelter. This is a nice hike.

Trail 8
Rugged
4.5 miles
The trail head of this trail is west of the North Gate house in a small cul-de-sac to the right if you take the road from the gate house to Clifty Shelter. You can park at the cul-de-sac.This is a very nice trail, but somewhat rugged. It follows Clifty Creek above the falls and some nice veiws of the creek can be found here, but not of the falls itself. The first half, or so, of the trail is pretty level. There are a several nice vistas of Clifty Canyon as you pass beyond the falls, going south. At about the 1.5 mile point there is a connecting trail descending down to Trail 2 as it follows the creek. The trail is mostly through open woods with oak, buckeye, pignut hickory and other native hardwoods. This hike is a wildflower enthusiast's heaven in early spring through early summer. Especially after it begins its descent into the canyon. At the end, it joins Trail 2 after crossing the creek.

Trail 9
Moderate
1 mile
This is a fairly easy hiking trail which connects Clifty Inn to the Campground. The Nature Center is a short hike from the Inn along this trail. It passes the swimming pool at about the halfway point.

Trail 10
Easy
.75 mile
This is an easy hike, located just behind the swimming pool. Accessed from Trail 9.

The Canyon Rim Loop Hike
This is my name for a loop hike which begins on the east rim of the canyon, descends to Clifty Creek, ascends to the west rim of the canyon and returns to the starting point via Clifty Shelter.

To hike this loop, a .6 mile long section of the main park road must be hiked at some point, as the trail doesn't completely skirt the rim. We usually like to hike this part first to get it over with. The road is fairly busy and isn't the best place to hike.

This hike is approximately 7.5 miles long and will take about five hours. We usually take lunch along, or food of some kind, as the trail is pretty strenuous. Make sure you have adequate water.

We usually park at the Hickory Grove parking area, on the west side of the road. We then hike south on the park road, to the Tunnel Falls parking area. Here the steps are descended to Trail 5. A nice over look to Tunnel Falls is located here. This first section is a pleasant stroll along a steep cliff. Be careful here, there is no guardrail and it is about a sixty to seventy foot drop. The trail here follows an old rail line, and after a short hike an old rail tunnel comes into veiw. This can be hiked through, provided you have a flashlight. It will come out on Trail Five on the other side of Oak Grove Shelter. If you hike through, please be courteous to the resident bats which you may find on the roof of the tunnel. Disturb them as little as possible.

Below the Lily Memorial the junction with Trail 4 is reached. Go on Trail 4. Continue this trail until you reach Hoffman Falls and the beginning of Trail 3. Between Oak Grove Shelter and Hoffman Falls the trail is pretty rugged. But the scenery of the canyon on the right, especially in the early spring or late fall is spectacular. Continue on Trail 3 until the junction of Trails 1, 2, and 3 is reached. Go right on Trail 2, which descends the hill. Be careful, the footing can be tricky as the hill is fairly steep at some points.

When you reach the base you will want Trail 8, which crosses Clifty Creek and ascends the hill. This is a fairly long climb, but not real steep. It is also a treasure trove of wildflowers in April and May. Trail 8 ascends to the western rim of the canyon. Clifty Creek is visible through occasional breaks in the trees. At the top the hiking gets easier. There are a couple of nice spots near a bridge which make good impromptu picnic spots with a nice veiw of the canyon.

The last half mile or so, above the Clifty Falls, the trail follows Clifty Creek, and finally crosses it. The crossing can be tricky if it has been raining a lot. Trail 8 emerges into a cul-de-sac just north of Clifty Shelter. Continue south towards the shelter. There is a wood fence which skirts the canyon and leads to the overlook of Clifty Falls.

Just south of the shelter is the trailhead for Trail 7. You may follow this along the rim of the canyon to the right, or take a shortcut straight ahead to the wooden bridge which crosses Little Clifty Creek above Little Clifty Falls. Follow Trail 7 to the right above the falls. This spur of Trail 7 will take you to Trail 6 at Lookout Point. Follow Trail 6 to Hickory Grove and collapse in your car.

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