Sarah and I are getting back into hiking. The past couple of years, we’ve done a lot of hiking during the winter, but not much during other seasons, including fall. Since fall is both of our favorite season, it’s a shame we’ve done so little fall hiking. We’re trying to make up for it this year.
So on Saturday, we decided to do a long hike. It’s a trail we’ve done before (way back in May of 2007), the Sycamore Loop, in the Deam Wilderness found in Hoosier National Forest. Our hike, including an extra out-and-back jaunt to Terrill Ridge Pond, ended up being about 7.5 miles.
View 2009-10-17 Sycamore Loop in a larger map
The hike started with a brief section on a fire road before we picked up the Sycamore Loop Trail itself, which started on a ridge, but quickly descended into a valley and followed a creek for a while. All the while winding through mixed pine and hardwood forests … but to be sure, a lot more pines than you typically see in this area.
We stopped to rest at one of several walk-in campsites along the way. This seemed to be the best of the designated sites as far as I could tell, in a large pine forest, by a creek, with lovely limestone outcroppings — but no one was using it. It was further back than the other sites, but not by that much. We had a snack and rested for a few minutes.
We hiked on, the forest transitioned back to hardwoods and the trail turned upwards for a long, gradual climb back up to the ridge. Throughout this time, the trail either followed the top of the ridge, or skirted the edges of ravines. But the foliage was too thick to get any good photos … and really there wasn’t much of a view. This would be a good hike in the winter, if we can access the trailhead (the drive or ride there involves a 7-mile section of gravel road).
We took another break by a creek to eat lunch and filtered some water from the creek. Then continued on our way.
We passed a rather large group camping along the trail. They were noisy and disrupted our peaceful hike slightly, but we were soon past them.
The trail reconnected with the fire road, and I talked Sarah into walking down to a pond that we had found last time, Terrill Ridge Pond. Some people were camping there, so we didn’t stay long. It’s a beautiful spot … another place I wouldn’t mind camping sometime.
By this time, we had about two miles of hiking along a ridge on the fire road back to the car. There were two climbs at the end of the road that we remembered being brutal from our previous hike there. However, since we are more seasoned hikers now, and after some of the monstrous climbs in Pennsylvania, these two hills felt easy. It’s funny how your perspective changes over time.
It was a wonderful hike. We were in great spirits the whole time and perhaps a bit chilly (we forgot to take into account that it was a lot cooler in the shady woods than it was at home), but otherwise we were mostly comfortable. We stopped at the 58 Cafe on our way back (where I ate on a recent bike ride). This place is awesome and very “authentic,” as we like to say (loaded with local characters and flavor). Let’s just say they have not one, not two, but THREE different types of pork tenderloin sandwiches (a Hoosier specialty) on the menu. We each had one, and they were delicious. It’s great to be able to get a tasty meal after a long hike.