Sunday, June 28, 2015

Turkeyfoot Preserve (Blog Hike #522)

Trail: (unnamed)
Hike Location: Turkeyfoot Preserve
Geographic Location: southwest of Greenville, OH (40.07524, -84.65229)
Length: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: 1/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: June 2015
Overview: A lollipop loop through restored prairie and wetland habitat.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: From Greenville, take SR 121 south 2.2 miles to Bishop Road.  Turn right on Bishop Road.  The signed and paved preserve parking area is 0.2 miles ahead on the right.

The hike: Established only in 2005, Darke County Parks’ Turkeyfoot Preserve protects 60 acres of wetlands and restored prairie southwest of Greenville.  The park is named for the big bluestem plant, a prairie grass that produces a flower head shaped like a turkey’s foot.  The good sightlines of the open prairie make Turkeyfoot Preserve a good bird watching destination during spring and fall bird migrations.
Information kiosk and vehicle gate at trailhead
The preserve is accessed by a single hiking trail that starts at the rear of the parking lot.  An information kiosk and a vehicle gate mark the trailhead.  The gravel entrance trail follows an abandoned railroad bed with the preserve on your left and active farm fields on your right.  Some large basswood trees live to the right of the trail and separate you from the field.
At 0.3 miles, the trail curves sharply left to cross a man-made ditch that flows through a pipe under the trail.  The ditch contained plenty of water on my visit.  Just after crossing the ditch, you enter the restored prairie and reach the trail fork that forms the loop.  For no particular reason, I continued straight and used the trail going right as my return route, thus hiking the loop clockwise.
Trail splits to form loop
            The trail curves left, climbs slightly, and reaches a wooden prairie observation deck at 0.4 miles.  The observation deck sits at a high point of land and therefore gives a great view of the surrounding prairie.  An interpretive sign tells you that this prairie has been named the Tawaskote Menitsa Prairie for an American Indian who was one of the Darke County Park District’s first commissioners.  Also known by the English name Susan F. Gray, Menitsa served as commissioner for 35 years and worked hard to preserve prairies such as this one.  On the hot summer morning I came here, I saw several red-winged blackbirds while standing on this observation deck.
View from observation deck
Past the observation deck, the trail curves right as it passes through the southern end of the prairie.  0.7 miles into the hike, you reach a spur trail that exits left to cross Mud Creek on a wooden bridge.  Notice the concrete supports under this bridge, an indication that a bridge was here long before the preserve was established.  The short spur trail gives a nice view of Mud Creek’s restored wetlands.  During pioneer times Mud Creek created a large wetland area southwest of Greenville, but drainage for the purpose of farming ensures that it flows in a well-defined channel today.
Bridge over Mud Creek

Mud Creek
Back on the main loop, you head into the northern section of the prairie as active farm fields appear directly ahead.  A large number of toads hopped across the recently-mowed grass trail in front of me.  Some seasonal ponds lie to your right, but they never come into view.  After curving right, you close the loop at 1.4 miles.  Turn left and retrace your steps another 0.3 miles to the trailhead to complete the hike.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Daubenspeck Community Nature Park (Blog Hike #521)

Trails: Main and Woods Loops
Hike Location: Daubenspeck Community Nature Park
Geographic Location: north side of Indianapolis, IN (39.91704, -86.18414)
Length: 0.75 miles
Difficulty: 1/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: June 2015
Overview: A nearly flat hike through prairie and creekside habitats.
Park Information:
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: Daubenspeck Community Nature Park is located at 8900 Ditch Road on the north side of Indianapolis.  To get there, take I-465 to Meridian Street (exit 31).  Exit and go south on Meridian St.  Drive Meridian St. south 1 block to 96th Street and turn right on 96th St.  Drive 96th St. west 1.4 miles to Ditch Road and take the third exit from the roundabout to go south on Ditch Rd.  The park and its roadside parking area are 0.7 miles ahead on the right.

The hike: Located just inside the I-465 loop, tiny Daubenspeck Community Nature Park provides 20 acres of greenspace in otherwise highly developed northern Indianapolis.  The park owes its existence to Peter Daubenspeck, a farmer who owned many acres of land in this area.  In the 1990’s, Daubenspeck sold most of his land to developers for construction of houses, but he set aside 15 acres on Ditch Road for use by the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township.  The plot was too small for building a school, so the District created a non-profit entity to manage it as a park.  The resulting Daubenspeck Community Nature Park opened to the public in 2006.
            The park has two distinct areas.  The park’s southern three-fourths (the original 15 acres) consists of a restored tallgrass prairie, while the newer northern 5 acres consist of young creekside forest.  A single trailhead provides the only trail access, so it makes sense to tour both park sections on a single short hike such as the one described here.
Trailhead near sundown
            Three trails depart from the trailhead, giving you the options of right, left, and straight.  The trails going right and left form a loop around the prairie section, while the trail going straight leads to a wooden observation deck that gives a great view of the prairie.  You will want to go to the observation deck at some point, but I chose to first hike the loop clockwise by taking the trail to the left.
            The grassy trail heads south with Ditch Road to your left and the prairie to your right.  At 0.1 miles, the trail forks.  Take the left fork to reach a short boardwalk over a small wetland area.  On the other side of the boardwalk, the two trails from the fork come back together.  You next curve right to pass through the southern part of the park and begin heading north near the park’s western boundary.
Boardwalk over wetland
            At 0.25 miles, the trail that goes through the center of the prairie past the observation deck enters from the right, thus giving you another opportunity to visit the prairie observation deck.  For the best prairie wildflower display, plan a late summer visit.  When I came here on a late mid-June evening, only the white beardtongue was blooming.
View from prairie observation deck
            Continuing north on the main loop, ignore a trail that exits left and heads for private property.  A gradual descent brings the trail into the woods and to another trail intersection.  The main loop continues uphill to the right, but to tack on the short Woods Loop, turn left and cross tiny Alverna Creek on a nice wooden footbridge.  Where the trail splits to form the Woods Loop, continue straight to hike the loop counterclockwise.  The narrow dirt trail makes its short loop through young forest, which features a green carpet of grassy plants.
Hiking the Woods Loop
            After closing the Woods Loop, turn right to recross Alverna Creek on the same wooden footbridge, then angle left to continue the main loop. The trail climbs some wooden steps to return to the prairie.  A second short boardwalk takes you over another small wetland area just before you return to the parking area to complete the loop.  Make sure you check out the prairie observation deck before you leave if you have not done so already.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Eagle Creek Park: Blue Trail (Blog Hike #520)

Trail: Blue Trail
Hike Location: Eagle Creek Park
Geographic Location: northwest side of Indianapolis, IN (39.87654, -86.29503)
Length: 3 miles
Difficulty: 3/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: June 2015
Overview: A loop hike featuring a causeway through a bird sanctuary.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: On the northwest side of Indianapolis, take I-65 to 71st Street (exit 124).  Exit and go west on 71st Street, which quickly ends at the park’s north entrance.  Pay the entrance fee, then drive another 200 feet to the perpendicular parking area on either side of the road.  Park here.

The hike: Consisting of a sprawling 5300 acres, Eagle Creek Park is the crown jewel of the City of Indianapolis’ park system and one of the largest city-owned parks in the country.  Most of the park land was farmed as recently as the 1930’s, at which time wealthy people from the city began buying the depleted farm land to build country estates.  One such wealthy person was Josiah K. Lilly Jr., the grandson of the famous pharmacist Eli Lilly and President of Eli Lilly and Company.  Josiah Lilly bought over 2200 acres in western Indianapolis, and his library is used today as the park’s Ornithology Center.
            In 1958, Lilly donated the land to Purdue University, which in turn sold it to the City of Indianapolis in 1966.  The dam that would create Eagle Creek Reservoir, a major source of recreation and drinking water for the city, was built in 1969.  Eagle Creek Park officially opened in 1972.  The park features many amenities including a pistol range, a marina, the Eagle Creek Bike Trail, the aforementioned Ornithology Center, a nature center, a golf course, and several buildings that can be rented for meetings and other occasions.
            In terms of trails, Eagle Creek Park offers 5 designated hiking trails that total nearly 17 miles in length.  The park’s longest trail is the 6.75 mile Red Trail, which forms a grand tour through the entire park.  I wanted a shorter hike on the hot summer day I came here, so I opted for the 3 mile Blue Trail.  The Blue Trail runs conjointly with the Red Trail for its most scenic section, but it avoids the more developed areas of the park frequented by the Red Trail.
Trailhead near park's north entrance gate 
            The trailhead for the Blue Trail coincides with its crossing of 71st Street, the road you drove in on.  The Blue Trail forms a loop, so you could go either way.  I chose to start on the dirt trail that heads east into the forest and use the wide gravel road that heads west as my return route, thus hiking the loop clockwise.  The trail is unblazed, but many metal signs written in blue ink identify the trail and keep you from getting lost.
            The initial segment of trail is nearly dead straight as the combined Blue, Red, and Green Trails head due east on a wide dirt path.  At 0.1 miles, the Red Trail exits to the right.  Soon the highway sounds from I-65 can be heard, but the interstate never comes into view thanks to the beautiful mature maple, beech, and oak forest.  A few pine trees also make an appearance.
Red Trail exits right
            At 0.2 miles, the trail curves 90-degrees right just before the Green Trail exits left. The Green Trail stays near I-65 for most of its distance, and therefore it is one of my least favorite trails in this park.  Now heading south, the Blue Trail intermingles with a Parcourse Fitness Trail before crossing paved 65th Street on a marked crosswalk.  After crossing Acer Lane on another marked crosswalk, notice the nice stone picnic area and restroom structures to your right.
Crossing a paved road
            The next segment of trail follows a sewer line.  Despite the mature forest, modern sights and sounds such as the sewer caps, interstate noise, and airplanes from nearby Indianapolis International Airport ensure that you never feel you are anywhere other than a suburban park.  Just shy of 1 mile, you cross paved Lillylake Drive just before descending to Lilly Lake itself.  Some benches present the opportunity to observe the aquatic activity, which included a family of Canada geese on my visit.
Canada geese in Lilly Lake
Some basswood trees, easily identified by their heart-shaped leaves and deeply furrowed bark, enter the forest mix in the lowland area near Lilly Lake.  At 1.3 miles, the trail crosses Eagle Creek Parkway, the park’s main road.  A small parking area offers an alternate point from which to begin this hike.  A moderate climb to a narrow ridge that overlooks Eagle Creek Reservoir follows.  Numerous trails criss-cross in this area, so watch for the metal Blue Trail signs.  A nice breeze from the reservoir welcomes you to the hilltop.
After descending the west side of the ridge, the Red Trail reenters from the left.  The next segment of trail follows a semi-circular causeway that is only a few feet wide and extends way out into Eagle Creek Reservoir.  The hike now dramatically changes character.  What has thus far been a shady walk through mature forest becomes a sunny hike with water on either side.  Eagle Creek’s main channel lies to your left, while the area to your right is managed as an Audubon bird sanctuary.
Crossing the causeway
Many people consider the trail over the causeway to offer the best hike in Indianapolis.  There is no limit to the number of birds you might see.  On my visit, I saw many red-winged blackbirds, nuthatches, woodpeckers, sparrows, goldfinches, and more Canada geese.  One secret to this area’s bird attraction is the large number of privet and honeysuckle shrubs beside the trail.  These shrubs produce berries that form an essential part of many birds’ diets.  Asters and other wildflowers are abundant here also.
At the north end of the causeway, the trail curves right and starts following a wide gravel path formerly known as 69th Street as it climbs gradually away from the reservoir.  As pretty as the causeway was, this segment is just as ugly, and it has all the charm of a maintenance area.  At 2.8 miles, the Red Trail exits left for the last time.  More gradual uphill climbing on the wide gravel road brings you to a vehicle gate near Eagle Creek Parkway just inside the north entrance gate.  Angle right to reach the perpendicular parking area that contains your car and complete the hike.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fort Boonesborough State Park (Blog Hike #519)

Trails: Fort and Pioneer Forage Trails
Hike Location: Fort Boonesborough State Park
Geographic Location: northeast of Richmond, KY (37.89573, -84.26756)
Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: June 2015
Overview: A short loop to reconstructed Fort Boonesborough.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: In central Kentucky, take I-75 to SR 627 (exit 95).  Exit and go east on SR 627.  Drive SR 627 east 5.6 miles to SR 388, passing the signed fort entrance on the way.  (Aside: if the fort is open on your visit, you could also start this hike at the fort by turning right into the park’s fort entrance and parking in the blacktop parking lot in front of the fort.)  Turn right on SR 388.  Drive SR 388 0.4 miles to the large trailhead and picnic shelter #4 parking area on the right.  The hike starts beside the picnic shelter.

The hike: The year was 1775 when Daniel Boone led 30 axmen in blazing the Wilderness Road, the famous pioneer trace that passed over the Cumberland Gap and into the Bluegrass region of present day Kentucky.  The goal of the settlers that followed him later that year was to found a fourteenth American colony in the western portion of what was then the colony of Virginia.  They planned to call their colony Transylvania.  The settlers built a fortified community at the Wilderness Road’s northern terminus that consisted of 26 log cabins.  They named their settlement Boonesborough after their wilderness trail blazer.
            Over the next 20 years Boonesborough became a center of pioneer life on the Kentucky frontier.  The arrival of additional settlers caused the community to grow too large for Boone’s liking, so he left Boonesborough to start more new communities nearby.  Kentucky became the fifteenth state to enter the Union in 1792, and 20 years later growth of neighboring communities had reduced Boonesborough to a small obscure village.  The village was abandoned in 1830.
            Over the next century the land was farmed heavily.  In the late 1950’s a proposed dam on the Kentucky River would have submerged the entire area, but the construction plans were cancelled.   Fort Boonesborough State Park was established in 1963.  In 1974 the reconstructed fort you see today was built on a bluff overlooking the Kentucky River.  The original fort was located right on the river near today’s park boat ramp; it is located across SR 388 from this hike’s trailhead.  The reconstructed fort is open for tours April through October from 9am to 5pm Wednesday through Saturday.  A fort tour costed $8 at the time of this writing.
            Unfortunately, I passed through this area on a Tuesday, so I did not get to tour the reconstructed fort.  The parking lot in front of the fort was also closed, so I had to hike to the reconstructed fort from a picnic area using the route described here.  On the bright side, approaching the reconstructed fort on foot through the woods more closely resembles how newly arrived settlers would have approached the actual Boonesborough.
Fort Trail trailhead beside picnic shelter
            From the large picnic shelter parking area, pick up the signed asphalt Fort Trail, which starts to the right of the picnic shelter.  The Fort Trail connects the picnic shelter parking area with the fort parking area 0.3 miles away.  The trail climbs at a steady rate for its entire length as it gains nearly 100 feet of elevation between the picnic shelter and the fort.
Climbing toward the fort
            Most of the Fort Trail passes through young shrubby forest, but a few areas are more exposed to the sun.  A couple of benches provide opportunities to rest if you get winded.  At 0.25 miles, note the dirt Pioneer Forage Trail that exits downhill to the right; we will take it in a few minutes to begin our return route.
            The Fort Trail ends at the fort parking area at the top of the hill.  To get to the fort, turn left and walk 500 feet across the parking lot to the fort entrance, passing a stone monument to early Kentuckians along the way.  Built out of 10,000 pine logs, the reconstructed fort contains cabins with period furnishings and areas where craftsmen demonstrate period crafts.  Because the fort was closed on my visit, I could only peep through openings in the logs and imagine what it would have been like to live here in the late 1700’s.
Stone monument outside fort entrance
Peeping into the fort through the logs
            The only trail out of the fort area is the Fort Trail you came in on, so after visiting the fort you need to retrace your steps to the Fort Trail’s upper trailhead and begin walking back down the paved path.  For a little variety and to get off of the pavement, I chose to return on the Pioneer Forage Trail, which exits left from the Fort Trail about 200 feet below the upper trailhead.  The Pioneer Forage Trail connects the Fort Trail to the park’s campground, but it also connects to the north end of the picnic shelter parking lot via a spur trail.
            The Pioneer Forage Trail starts with a steep descent over wooden waterbars to reach a small drainage, which it crosses on a shaky wooden footbridge.  The somewhat narrow trail curves right to follow this drainage downstream for several hundred feet.  The damp clay soil was slippery under my feet, so watch your footing.
Descending on Pioneer Forage Trail
            Just as it starts to flatten out, the trail surprisingly curves left and starts heading up another small drainage.  You can see the final segment of the trail on the other side of the drainage, so you have to choose where you want to cross.  Adventuresome hikers could cross on a log or a railroad I-beam that spans the creek, but the official route takes you all the way up the drainage to cross atop a concrete highway culvert.
            Now heading back down the east side of the drainage, just shy of 1 mile into the hike you reach the signed spur trail to picnic shelter #4, which exits right.  Turn right to hike the short spur trail, which crosses the drainage on another shaky wooden bridge before climbing a short distance to reach the parking lot.  A short walk across the hot and sunny parking lot completes the hike.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cumberland Trail to Devil's Racetrack Overlook (Blog Hike #518)

Trail: Cumberland Trail (to Devil’s Racetrack Overlook)
Hike Location: Cove Lake State Park
Geographic Location: north side of Caryville, TN (36.30719, -84.22699)
Length: 6.6 miles
Difficulty: 10/10 (Difficult)
Last Hiked: May 2015
Overview: A long, sometimes steep, sometimes rocky out-and-back to a fabulous viewpoint.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: In Caryville, take I-75 to US 25W/SR 63 (exit 134).  Exit, but instead of heading east on SR 63, go the opposite direction, which is west on Royal Blue Road or old SR 63.  0.6 miles from the exit, turn right on Bruce Gap Road.  The signed, paved, and fenced trailhead parking area is located 0.3 miles ahead on the left just after passing under I-75.

The hike: Stretching for more than 300 miles from Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in the northeast to Chattanooga-Chickamauga National Military Park in the southeast, the Cumberland Trail (CT) is to eastern Tennessee what the Appalachian Trail is to the eastern United States.  Unlike some other major trail organizations, the Cumberland Trail Conference has done an excellent job of developing and organizing work crews to build and maintain the CT.  Parts of the trail are still under construction, so check their website at for current information on trail construction or to volunteer for a work crew.
            For dayhikers, one of the better hikes on the CT is the out-and-back to Devil’s Racetrack Overlook described here.  Devil’s Racetrack is better known as the vertical rock slabs you see along I-75 as you drive north up the mountain out of Caryville.  Many CT experts rank Devil’s Racetrack Overlook as one of the best viewpoints on the entire CT.  After one trip to the overlook, you will likely agree.
The hike to Devil’s Racetrack Overlook used to be an almost vertical climb directly up the south side of Cumberland Mountain, but in the mid 2000’s a Cumberland Trail Conference work crew completed the current more gradual route up the north side.  The new route makes an excellent dayhike, and all trail users should be thankful for the time and sweat that went into building this trail.  Also, the Cumberland Trail Conference provides an excellent, detailed, free trail description on their website.  To be honest, their trail description is at least as good if not better than the one I offer here.
Bruce Gap Road trailhead for CT
            From the rear of the parking area, pick up the wide dirt CT access trail that immediately enters the forest.  In less than 0.1 miles, you reach a large trail mileage sign at the CT proper, which goes left and right.  The New River segment of the CT goes southbound to the left and leads 17 difficult miles to the next trailhead, which is located in a remote area near Norma, TN.  As indicated by the trail mileage sign, this hike turns right to head northbound for Devil’s Racetrack.
Intersecting the CT
            The trail climbs a small knob on a moderate grade using several switchbacks.  You started 30 feet below I-75, but the top of the knob is more than 80 feet above I-75.  Vehicle sounds from the noisy interstate will be your constant companion on this hike, and the road noise represents the only downside to the CT’s new route.
            At 0.3 miles, the trail splits with the Volunteer Loop descending right and the CT climbing left.  These two trails come back together in 0.4 miles, so the choice is yours.  I chose the easier route, which is to angle left and stay with the CT.  The CT is marked with white rectangular paint blazes, and they come in handy at points such as this one.
Climbing on the CT
            The CT climbs a little more before passing over the double top of the small knob.  I saw a lot of poison ivy along this section of the trail, so take care where you step.  Using a pair of switchbacks, the trail descends the north side of the knob where the other end of the Volunteer Loop enters from the right at an unsigned intersection.
            At 0.8 miles, you pass through a brushy power line clearing.  A narrow but deep water run-off channel will require a single hop to cross.  After re-entering the forest on the other side of the power line, a couple more switchbacks descend the trail into a lowland ravine area.  Perhaps to your dismay, you have now lost almost all of the elevation you gained in the initial climb.
            After a short distance of easy, level hiking in the ravine, the trail climbs using switchbacks to once again ascend above interstate level.  The second half of this climb is somewhat rocky, a prelude of what is to come.  The next segment of trail stays so close to the interstate that it actually lies within the federally designated I-75 corridor.  Cars zoom along the highway below you less than 300 feet to your left.
Starting to get rocky
            At 1.6 miles, the trail dips to cross a steep drainage from the interstate on a high wooden bridge.  After climbing back to interstate level, you cross a wire fence using a wooden ladder.  The forest past the fence is much younger and shrubbier with plenty of poison ivy and briars to get in your way.  The dead end of Shelton Farm Lane appears downhill and to your right.  In the leafless months the vertical rock slabs of Devil’s Racetrack can also be seen ahead and to the right.
            2.2 miles into the hike, the trail enters a sequence of boulder fields that were built here to stabilize the interstate embankment.  Some of the boulders rock when you step on them, so you have to be very careful where you step.  Navigating the boulder fields is the only really hard part of this hike, and it is the only reason I ranked this hike’s difficulty at 10/10.  The CT ultimately intersects a dirt road at the base of the boulder fields, so one strategy is to pick the most feasible line down to the dirt road.
Entering the boulder field
            At 2.4 miles, the CT officially intersects the dirt road, where you need to angle left to continue heading toward Devil’s Racetrack.  The next 0.5 miles parallel scenic Bruce Creek, which features many pleasant cascades and waterfalls.  Like everything else in this area, the creek was affected by the interstate construction.  A new creekbed was built, and the waterfalls were added to create plunge pools that capture eroded soil.  On the bright side, the interstate is sufficiently far above you and the cascades sufficiently loud that they almost drown out the highway noise.  Some rocks beside the creek allow you to sit, rest, and extend your time away from the interstate.
Bruce Creek
            2.7 miles into the hike, the dirt road ends, and you have to climb a steep rocky section of trail around the highest cascade in Bruce Creek.  An established campsite sits at the top of this climb beside the base of the interstate boulder field.  A little more creekside hiking brings you to the wooden CT footbridge across Bruce Creek at 2.9 miles.  A couple of planks were missing from this bridge on my visit, but it got me across without incident.
            Now on the east side of Bruce Creek, you begin the final assault on Cumberland Mountain.  Over the next 0.3 miles the trail gains over 400 feet of elevation using 11 switchbacks.  Do not succumb to the temptation of cutting the switchbacks as some other people have done.  Ironically the “trail” created by cutting the switchbacks gives you some idea of what the old route to this overlook was like.
Climbing the switchbacks
After the fourth switchback, you reach a rare small flat area on the side of Cumberland Mountain that contains a cabin-sized boulder fallen from the cliffline above.  More switchbacks bring you above that cliffline.  At 3.2 miles, you reach the narrow rocky spine that is the summit of Cumberland Mountain.  The CT angles left here to continue its northeastward journey toward Cumberland Gap, but you need to turn right to hike the unblazed and unsigned 0.1 mile spur trail to the overlook.
After scrambling over some white sandstone rock outcrops, you reach the ridge’s end and the unmarked overlook.  What a view this is!  The towns of LaFollette and Jacksboro appear below you to the south, as does Cove Lake.  I-75 appears snaking off in the distance to the southwest.  To the northeast you can look up the ridgeline of Cumberland Mountain.  Best of all, I was all alone up here in the early afternoon, but I passed 3 other groups coming up as I was coming back down.  Thus, you should plan an early start if you want this view to yourself.
View southwest from Devil's Racetrack

LaFollette and Jacksboro

View northeast up Cumberland Mountain
The trail does not loop from the overlook, so the only trail option is to retrace your steps back to the parking area to complete the out-and-back.  However, if you do not mind some road walking, there is a way to form a semi-loop.  When you get back to the dirt road beside Bruce Creek, instead of turning right on the CT and following it up into the boulder field, keep heading downstream on the dirt road.  In 0.1 miles, the dirt road comes out at Sleepy Hollow Lane.  From this point, a soft left on Sleepy Hollow Ln. followed by a right on Loop Road and a right on Bruce Gap Road will return you to the parking area via 1.5 miles of road walking.  Be advised that part of this route passes through a residential area, and every house in that neighborhood seemed to have at least 2 dogs.  Also, while the CT does not have an official trailhead on Sleepy Hollow Lane, I noticed several cars parked along the lane near the dirt road that leads to the CT.  Starting from Sleepy Hollow Lane would reduce this hike’s round-trip distance to less than 2 miles while also substantially reducing the difficulty.