Sunday, April 23, 2017

Holly Springs National Forest, Chewalla Lake: Lakeside and Virginia Pine Trails (Blog Hike #628)

Trails: Lakeside and Virginia Pine Trails
Hike Location: Holly Springs National Forest, Chewalla Lake
Geographic Location: east of Holly Springs, MS (34.73512, -89.33833)
Length: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: 3/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: March 2017
Overview: A semi-loop along the shores and bluffs of Chewalla Lake.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: Just east of Holly Springs, take I-22 to CCC Road (exit 37).  Exit and go north on CCC Rd.  Drive CCC Rd. north 0.4 miles to SR 178 and turn left on SR 178.  Drive SR 178 west 0.7 miles to Higdon Road and turn right on Higdon Rd.  Drive Higdon Rd. north 3 miles to the signed Chewalla Lake entrance on the right.  Turn right to enter the recreation area, pay the $5 day-use fee (unless you plan to camp here), and park in the day-use area, which is reached by angling left where the campground entrance goes right.

The hike: Established in 1936, Holly Springs National Forest consists of 155,661 acres in northern Mississippi.  Most of the land comprises unproductive farm fields that had been abandoned during the Great Depression.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted over these fields with loblolly and shortleaf pines to help prevent erosion, and pine forests comprise the majority of the forest’s lands today.
            With 36 campsites, 40 picnic sites, and access to several hiking trails, at first glance Chewalla Lake Recreation Area looks like the many other lakeside recreation areas contained within Mississippi’s national forests.  However, a closer look reveals some hidden treasures.  The name Chewalla comes from the Choctaw Indian word Chiho-la, which translates to “Supreme Being,” and the recreation area features a reconstructed Indian mound that was originally located where the lake is today.  Also, Chewalla Lake Recreation Area serves as the trailhead for several trails that make good dayhiking: the Lakeside Trail, the Virginia Pine Trail, and the Pine Mountain Trail.  This hike combines the Lakeside and Virginia Pine Trails to form a 3.5 mile semiloop that begins and ends at the recreation area.
Trailhead at day use area
            Start at the south side of the day-use parking area where the signed Lake Rd. Trail (also known as the Lakeside Trail) heads south into the campground area.  An information board with a trail map is also located here, and you may want to take a picture of the trail map for reference during your hike.  When I hiked here on a nice mid-March afternoon, forest workers were conducting controlled burns to clear underbrush from the campground area, and they were also repairing some severe trail erosion near the trailhead.
            At 0.2 miles, you reach the reconstructed Indian mound, which is now located atop a low ridge.  The mound is hemispherical in shape, and some erosion marks can clearly be seen.  An observation deck located near the mound gives nice views up and down Chewalla Lake.  By looking down the lake, you can see the dam area almost a mile away; you will be there in about 30 minutes.
Indian mound

View down Chewalla Lake
            Continuing southbound on the well-worn path, you reach the campground swimming area at 0.5 miles.  The small sandy area sits adjacent to a tranquil-looking island, which is accessible via a short covered bridge.  Past the swimming area, the trail heads west to (finally!) leave the developed part of the recreation area and enter the forest, which is dominated by sweet gum trees and loblolly pines.
Covered bridge leading to island
            0.65 miles into the hike, you reach a trail intersection with trails going straight and left.  Although the signs say only “trail,” the trail marked with blue plastic circles going straight is the Virginia Pine Trail, and the seemingly unmarked trail going left is the continuation of the Lakeside Trail.  We will eventually go both ways, but for now turn left to continue your journey toward the dam.
            After crossing a long wooden bridge over a small feeder stream, you reach another unsigned trail intersection.  The trail going left dead-ends at the shore of Chewalla Lake, so you need to turn right.  At the next fork, angle left to stay on the Lakeside Trail.  Some old, faint white paint blazes mark the trail here, but this trail will need to be remarked within the next few years.
Chewalla Dam
            The trail crosses another feeder stream before climbing gradually up and around a low bluff.  At 1.1 miles, the Lakeside Trail ends at its intersection with gravel Chewalla Dam Road, which at this point is closed to vehicle traffic.  To get to the dam, turn left and descend moderately to reach the west end of the earthen dam.  For the best lake views, hike out to the end of the dam, then turn around and retrace your steps to the Virginia Pine Trail.  Turn sharply left on the Virginia Pine Trail.
            The Virginia Pine Trail parallels one of the lake’s feeder streams until it reaches the powerline that services the campground, at which point it curves right and climbs a hill.  Where the trail forks at 2.8 miles, choose the left fork that passes under the powerline.  The right fork goes directly back to the campground. 
Hiking the Virginia Pine Trail
Some more gradual climbing through a nice grove of loblolly pines brings you to the Virginia Pine Trail’s end at the area entrance road.  If you want to extend your hike, the 1.4 mile Pine Mountain Trail starts just to the left and across the road; it leads to a forest road that leads to a nice lake overlook.  I had a long drive back to South Carolina ahead of me, so I turned right and walked down the area entrance road to the day-use parking lot to complete my hike.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wall Doxey State Park (Blog Hike #627)

Trail: Nature Trail
Hike Location: Wall Doxey State Park
Geographic Location: south of Holly Springs, MS (34.66282, -89.46454)
Length: 2 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: March 2017
Overview: A loop hike around spring-fed Spring Lake.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: Near Holly Springs, take I-22 to SR 7 (exit 30).  Exit and go south on SR 7.  Drive SR 7 south 6 miles to the signed state park entrance on the right.  Turn right to enter the park, pay the park entrance fee, and park in the parking lot in front of the Park/Lodge Office.

The hike: Established in 1938 as one of Mississippi’s original Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)-built parks, Wall Doxey State Park protects 750 acres on the main road south of Holly Springs.  The park centers around 60-acre Spring Lake, which as its name suggests receives all of its water from nearby springs.  The park was originally called Spring Lake State Park, but the name was changed in 1956 to honor Wall Doxey, a local politician who served first as a U.S. Representative and then as a U.S. Senator from 1929 until 1943.
            Today Wall Doxey State Park comes across as a park that time has forgotten, which has both positive and negative implications.  On the positive side, the park receives little traffic, and the CCC-built stone buildings give an old-timey charm few places can match.  On the negative side, almost every facility in the park is in some state of disrepair, including the 64-site campground, the group camp, the picnic pavilion and bath house, and the park’s 9 cabins.  The same goes for the park’s only hiking opportunity, the 2 mile Nature Trail encircling Spring Lake that is described here.
Lake view near lodge
            From the parking lot in front of the Park/Lodge Office, walk to the left of the lodge for a fantastic view of Spring Lake, which from here sits about 15 feet below you.  Then turn left and start walking an unmarked dirt path south parallel to the lake on your right.  Next you pass the CCC-built bath house and pass through the picnic pavilion area before leaving the developed part of the park.  All of this time you are heading for the earthen dam that forms Spring Lake.
            At 0.3 miles, you reach said dam, and the trail curves right to cross the dam.  Some bald cypress trees live in Spring Lake’s shallow water, and a swarm of midges greeted me on the warm cloudy morning that I hiked here.  After crossing the dam, the trail curves right to continue its clockwise journey around the lake.
Cypress trees in Spring Lake
            Next the trail enters what appears to be an old primitive camping area or picnic area.  Where other trail options go left, stay right to remain on the trail closest to the lake.  A barely legible sign says “trailhead” at this point, and some old wooden signs also stand in this area.  Some old wooden benches give partially obstructed views of the lake provided you trust the bench to hold your weight.  Spring Lake makes Wall Doxey State Park an above-average birding destination, and I saw a large number of Canada geese and titmice on my hike.
            For the rest of its journey up the isolated west side of Spring Lake the trail rises and falls moderately up and down some lakeside bluffs.  Some wooden steps take you up and over the bluffs, but they also are in poor shape.  Sweet gum and maple trees cover these bluffs, as do some red cedars.
Climbing a bluff
            At 1.2 miles, the Nature Trail descends the last bluff and merges with an old road that enters at a sharp angle from the left.  A few hundred feet later, you reach Spring Lake’s only significant feeder stream, which you cross on a narrow wooden footbridge.  This footbridge seems a little dubious given this park’s general state of disrepair, but it got me across the stream with no problems.
Narrow footbridge
            Now on the east side of the lake, the trail stays on the old road, which features some old stone culverts.  Highway noise from nearby SR 7 filters in from the left.  At 1.75 miles, you reach the park’s cabin area and boat ramp.  Angle left to head up the boat ramp road, then look for the continuation of the Nature Trail that exits right and heads steeply uphill, the steepest hill on this hike.  I passed an armadillo burrowing into the ground in this area.  At the top of the hill, you reach the back of the Park/Lodge Office and the lake view you started with, thus marking the closing of the loop and the end of the hike.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Parkin Archeological State Park (Blog Hike #626)

Trail: Village Trail
Hike Location: Parkin Archeological State Park
Geographic Location: west of Earle, AR (35.27678, -90.55519)
Length: 0.8 miles
Difficulty: 0/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: March 2017
Overview: A short concrete loop through a former Mississippian village site.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: Northwest of Memphis, take I-55 to US 64 (exit 10).  Exit and go west on US 64.  Drive US 64 west 22 miles to SR 184 in the town of Parkin.  Turn right on SR 184.  The state park entrance is 0.1 miles ahead on the left.  Park in the only parking lot.

The hike: The date was June 1541 when Hernando de Soto’s Spanish expedition first set foot in Casqui, as this site was called in the Mississippian Indian tongue.  When de Soto arrived, the Mississippians had lived in Casqui for over 500 years, and de Soto found a thriving moat-protected village that served as the political center for its tribe.  The village got its name from its Chieftain Casqui, who ruled the tribe from a house built atop a mound that towered over the village.
            At the time of de Soto’s arrival, the village was suffering from an extended seasonal drought, and Chieftain Casqui asked de Soto to pray to his God for rain.  De Soto’s journals state that his expedition raised a massive cross atop the chief’s mound, and a drought-breaking rain came the very next day.  Fragments of bald cypress wood probably from that cross can be seen in the park’s museum today. 
Although Casqui was abandoned about 100 years after de Soto’s visit, Casqui was not the most recent village to exist on this site.  In the early 1900’s, an African-American community called Sawdust Hill housed workers of a nearby lumber mill owned by the Northern Ohio Cooperage and Lumber Company.  The mill closed in 1945, and in 1964 the site became a National Historic Landmark.  Today the site is explored by a single 0.8 mile concrete lollipop loop trail, which is the subject of this blog entry.
Trailhead behind Visitor Center
Before you hit the trail, take a few minutes to tour the small museum, which features some nice pottery unearthed from the site, and pick up a self-guided tour brochure.  After touring the museum, walk out the Visitor Center’s back door to begin the concrete Village Trail.  The chieftain’s mound can be seen straight ahead, and very quickly you cross a wooden bridge over what remains of the moat that surrounded Casqui.  This moat has been filled in by much sedimentation, and it would have been much wider and deeper (and filled with water from the nearby St. Francis River) in the 1500’s when de Soto came here.
After crossing the bridge, the Village Trail splits to form its loop.  To follow the trail in the direction described in the self-guided tour brochure, turn right to hike the loop counterclockwise.  The next segment of trail heads down what used to be the main street of the aforementioned Sawdust Hill community.  Several houses and the Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church used to stand here, but only an old African-American cemetery with headstones dating from 1909 to 1927 remains.
Sawdust Hill cemetery
At 0.25 miles, turn right to walk a short spur trail back across the old moat (which is much deeper and steeper here) to reach the restored Northern Ohio School.  This one-room schoolhouse was built for kids of the lumber mill workers, and it is surprisingly well-preserved given its age.  Some interpretive signs describe what it was like to attend school here.
Northern Ohio School
Back on the main trail, you soon come to the chieftain’s mound, no doubt the site’s main attraction.  Most archaeologists believe this mound used to be pyramidal in shape with a flat top, but centuries of erosion have left the more lumpy round structure you see today.  Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of houses, a moat, and looking up at the chieftain’s house atop this mound.
Chieftain's mound

St. Francis River
Continuing around the loop, just past 0.5 miles you reach an overlook of the St. Francis River.  Although de Soto’s journals state that the river’s water was clear enough to see the bottom, the river stays very muddy today due to runoff from surrounding farm fields.  The river was especially muddy on the seasonally cold 40-degree spring afternoon that I came here.  Two more left curves bring you to the close of the loop, where a right turn will take you back to the Visitor Center and complete the hike.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Village Creek State Park: Austell, Military Road, and Lake Dunn Trails (Blog Hike #625)

Trails: Austell, Military Road, and Lake Dunn Trails
Hike Location: Village Creek State Park
Geographic Location: southeast of Wynne, AR (35.16188, -90.71840)
Length: 4.3 miles
Difficulty: 4/10 (Moderate)
Last Hiked: March 2017
Overview: A loop hike featuring an old military road used on the Trail of Tears.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: In eastern Arkansas, take I-40 to SR 284 (exit 242).  Exit and go north on SR 284.  Drive SR 284 north 11.1 miles to the signed state park entrance on the right.  Turn right to enter the park, then follow signs to the Visitor Center.  Park in the concrete lot in front of the Visitor Center.

The hike: Located atop Crowley Ridge, one of the few hills between Memphis and Little Rock, 6911-acre Village Creek State Park is Arkansas’ second largest state park.  The park exists because the Arkansas General Assembly wanted eastern Arkansas to have a major destination for outdoor recreation.  The Assembly commissioned a study of site options in 1967, land acquisition began in 1972, and the park officially opened on June 27, 1976.
            Village Creek State Park definitely serves the intended purpose, for it offers nearly every form of recreation and amenity.  The park includes a 96-site campground, 10 cabins, two fishing lakes, a 27-hole golf course, numerous picnic sites, and a visitor’s complex that features a theater, store, gift shop, and bicycle rentals, in addition to trails for hikers, bikers, and horses.  Four of the park’s trails are hiker-only: the short Big Ben Nature Trail and the Arboretum Trail (less than 0.5 miles each) in addition to the more substantial Austell and Military Road Trails.  This hike combines the two longer hiker-only trails with some of the mountain bike trails to form a 4.3 mile loop through the western part of the trail system.
Trailhead in front of Visitor Center
            The first segment of this hike uses the Austell Trail, which heads south from a signed trailhead in front of the Visitor Center.  Both the Arboretum and Austell Trails start here, and the treadway starts by crossing a concrete bridge and heading into the arboretum.  Small signs identify common trees, which include sweet gum, oak, hickory, sugar maple, and tuliptree.  The nice mix of broadleaf trees makes Village Creek State Park one of this region’s few good fall leaf-peeping destinations.
            In less than 300 feet, the Arboretum and Austell Trails part ways at a signed trail intersection.  Angle right to continue the Austell Trail and begin a gradual climb.  The trails at Village Creek are marked using paint blazes with colors that correspond to allowed trail users.  All hiker-only trails are blazed blue, while all multi-use trails are blazed white.  I hope this system helps park rangers enforce the park’s trail-use regulations: having all trails at a given intersection blazed blue provides little help in determining which way to go.
Hiking along the ridge
            The trail levels off atop the flat but narrow ridge.  Crowley Ridge features the loess topography that is rather common on the fringes of the Mississippi and Missouri River floodplains.  Loess hills consist of clay deposited by wind and water rather than the usual rock, so they are steep and easily eroded but feature no rock outcrops.  The largest and most famous loess formations are found up in western Missouri and Iowa, but they also occur here and further down river in extreme southwestern Mississippi.
            After nearly 0.2 miles of walking along the ridge, the trail dips into a steep ravine and climbs out the other side via an elaborate set of steps.  As I hiked up this hill on a seasonally cold March morning, I thought back to the humidity my mom and I felt on my first trip down this trail in July 1997 (before I started keeping even the earliest version of this blog).  After climbing out of the ravine, you cross a park road and reenter the woods on the other side.
Climbing out of the ravine
            At 0.75 miles, you reach a trail intersection with options (both blazed blue!) going right and left.  The trail going right leads to a picnic area, so you want to turn left and begin a gradual descent.  Lake Austell comes into view here downhill and to the right.
            Just shy of 1 mile, you cross a boat ramp that leads very steeply down into Lake Austell.  Prospective boaters will need a powerful truck to pull a boat out of the water up this ramp.  A few hundred feet later, you reach the north end of the dam that forms Lake Austell, which also marks the end of the Austell Trail and the trailhead for the Military Road Trail.  Turn right to begin the upper portion of the Military Road Trail as it crosses the dam.
Lake Austell
            The Military Road Trail gets its name from an old dirt road built to the 1820’s that connected Memphis to Little Rock.  In some sense, the military road was an early version of I-40, and the longest and best-preserved section of the road is used by this trail.  Although you are not on the road yet, some interpretive signs at the south end of the dam tell you that this road was used during the Trail of Tears to remove Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Cherokee from Tennessee to Oklahoma.
            The trail climbs steeply away from the dam and continues its southbound course.  At 1.6 miles, the trail curves left as it intersects and begins following the old military road.  Parts of the road lie in a trench dug several feet into the loess soil, so the going can be a little muddy.  You are traveling east on the old road, so imagine what it would be like to meet displaced Choctaw or Cherokee being forcibly marched in the opposite direction.
Hiking the old military road
            2.1 miles into the hike, the lower arm of the Military Road Trail exits the trench to the left via a set of wooden steps.  At this point you have a decision to make.  If you insist on using only the hiker-only trails, then you can turn left here, hike the lower arm back to the dam area, and then retrace your steps along the Austell Trail to finish the hike.  To add more variety and form a true loop, this hike continues straight on the old road to head for the multi-use trails.
            The trench deepens as you begin a moderate descent toward the park’s namesake creek.  At 2.4 miles, you reach the lowest elevation of this hike at a swinging bridge over Village Creek.  While I could not find any specific information on this bridge, its construction is similar to bridges built by the Young Adult Conservation Corps in the 1970’s.  Also, notice the streambank stabilization structures that have been built near the wooden posts that support this bridge.
Swinging bridge over Village Creek
            Just past 2.5 miles, you reach a trail intersection (labeled marker #14 in the multi-use trail system) that marks the end of the Military Road Trail.  Turn left to begin heading north on the white-blazed multi-use trail, which is open to both hikers and mountain bikes.  While this part of the park does not have the stark loess scenery of the Austell Trail or the history of the Military Road Trail, this trail’s wide firmly-packed dirt surface and gentle grade make the going very easy.
            At 3.1 miles, you reach trail marker #13.  This description turns left here to take the shortest route back to the trailhead.  If you wanted to extend your hike and see the park’s other lake, Lake Dunn, you could continue straight here and end up at the Lake Dunn Campground in 0.8 miles.  Still on the wide dirt trail you have become accustomed to, the trail curves right as it approaches Village Creek’s east bank.  Notice the rugged, steeply eroded creek banks in this area.
Village Creek
            3.9 miles into the hike, a final left turn and crossing of Village Creek, this time on a sturdy wooden bridge, brings you to the bicycle trail entrance at the edge of a mowed-grass play field.  Though no signs indicate such, you need to angle left to reach the campground access road.  Then angle left again to cross a road bridge and reach the main park road directly across from the Visitor Center.  Your return to the Visitor Center parking lot signals the end of the hike. 
Before leaving the park, consider hiking the short Arboretum or Big Ben Nature Trails, both of which start near the Visitor Center.  Also, while you are in the area, take a short drive to nearby Parkin Archeological State Park.  While Parkin does not have an extensive trail system, it is a great place to learn about an earlier, happier, and more prosperous era in American Indian history.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Lake Catherine State Park: Falls Branch Trail (Blog Hike #624)

Trail: Falls Branch Trail
Hike Location: Lake Catherine State Park
Geographic Location: east of Hot Springs, AR (34.43130, -92.91335)
Length: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: 5/10 (Moderate)
Last Hiked: March 2017
Overview: A scenic loop featuring many small waterfalls.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: Take I-30 to SR 171 (exit 97).  Exit and go west on SR 171.  Drive SR 171 11.7 miles until it deadends in Lake Catherine State Park.  Stop at the Visitor Center to pick up a self-guiding trail brochure for the Falls Branch Trail, then continue driving the main park road to its end at the hiking trailhead.  Park in the only parking area at the trailhead.

The hike: Tucked in the foothills of the Ouachita (pronounced WASH-ee-tah) Mountains between I-30 and Hot Springs, Lake Catherine State Park protects 2240 acres on the south shore of its namesake lake.  The lake was created in 1924 when the Remmel Dam was constructed on the Ouachita River for the purpose of power generation.  The dam and lake are small by present-day hydroelectric standards, but some of Arkansas Power and Light’s electricity generation facilities can be seen across the lake from the park.
            Lake Catherine State Park was established in 1935, thus making it one of Arkansas’ oldest state parks.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) helped build the park, and several buildings from the CCC era including some reservable cabins remain in use today.  The park is a smorgasbord of recreation, as it features 20 cabins, a 70-site campground, a pavilion, and fishing and boating access to Lake Catherine.
            With 4 hiking trails totaling 10.5 miles, the park gives hikers plenty to choose from as well.  The short ADA-accessible Slunger Creek Nature Trail sits by itself near the park entrance, but the park’s other three trails start from a common trailhead at the end of the main park road.  This hike describes the Falls Branch Trail, which is the park’s most popular trail because of its brevity and because it passes small but scenic Falls Creek Falls.
Main hiking trailhead
            The main trailhead features a sheltered information kiosk, some bags for collecting dog poop, and an historical marker.  All three trails that start here share a common entrance trail, so the red blazes of the Falls Branch Trail run conjointly with the white blazes of the Dam Mountain Trail and the yellow blazes of the Horseshoe Mountain Trail at first.  At 0.1 miles, you reach a major intersection where the three trails part ways.  Follow the red blazes that go straight to begin a counterclockwise journey around the Falls Branch Trail.
            The trail curves right as it heads west-northwest while gradually climbing up a very tight and very steep ravine.  Several small waterfalls appear in this ravine, and you may begin to get concerned that Falls Creek Falls, this park’s main natural attraction, is so small.  Fear not: not only is the main waterfall much bigger than any you will see in this ravine, but this stream is not even Falls Creek; the self-guiding trail brochure calls it Little Canyon Creek.  Although many of the numbered posts that correspond to the brochure are in rough shape, the pamphlet still provides good information on what you see along this trail.
Hiking up the ravine
            The trail goes back and forth across the stream usually using wooden footbridges.  After passing through an area that has seen recent storm damage, the trail makes a sweeping 180-degree left turn to leave the creekside area and begin heading back down the ravine at a higher elevation.  Lumpy rock outcrops of novaculite, an extremely hard rock found only in the Ouachita Mountains, appear on either side of the trail.  Some of these outcrops offer nice views into the ravine, but the dropoff is unprotected.  Thus, kids need to be kept in firm tow up here.
Novaculite rock outcrop
            At 0.8 miles, you climb into a saddle that marks this hike’s highest point and contains an intersection with the yellow-blazed Horseshoe Mountain Trail.  Some large loblolly pines live in this saddle, and a nice bench also sits here.  Continue straight to stay on the Falls Branch Trail and begin a moderate descent toward its namesake creek.  The latter part of this descent uses some old stone steps that have seen their better days, so you need to watch your step.
Rough stone steps
            Just past 1 mile into the hike, you reach the west bank of Falls Branch Creek.  Shortly thereafter you reach this trail’s namesake waterfall, which you approach from above.  Water cascades and drops about 10 feet into a plunge pool that is large for a creek this size.  Some stepping stones allow you to get in the middle of the creek for the perfect front-view photograph.  Surrounding rock ledges frame the waterfall nicely.
Falls Creek Falls
            The stepping stones lead across the creek to the Dam Mountain Trail, but instead of crossing Falls Creek this hike continues downstream along the creek’s west bank.  Very quickly you reach the back waters of Lake Catherine, and soon the lake proper comes into full view.  After descending a single step cut into the bedrock, you reach a bench that offers a nice view of the lake…and an Entergy (formerly Arkansas Power and Light) electricity generating station on the far shore.
Lake Catherine
            Just shy of 1.5 miles, you cross a swinging bridge consisting of a wooden deck suspended from a pair of chains.  Built by the Young Adult Conservation Corps in the 1970’s, the bridge sways quite a bit, but persistent forward stepping will get you across.  Soon after crossing the bridge, the spur trail to Camp Area C continues straight at a trail intersection.  Follow directions given by a trail sign by turning left to stay on the Falls Branch Trail.  A few hundred feet later, you close this trail’s loop.  A right turn and 0.1 miles of fairly level walking return you to the trailhead and complete the hike.