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September 21, 2017, 11:55:32 AM

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ShifuCareaga

July 05, 2017, 02:35:23 PM
ouch!! haha that's gotta bite.

I'm just trying to decide where to go camping this weekend!!
 

Bazinga

July 03, 2017, 06:54:05 PM
Stupid flat tire ruined my hiking plans.  :P

ShifuCareaga

March 06, 2017, 11:19:53 AM
Really missed being out yesterday. Rest is important, though. I hope all of you are having a good spring!
 

Bazinga

November 24, 2016, 02:29:39 PM
Gobble, Gobble.  Happy Turkey Day!!  :D

ShifuCareaga

April 24, 2016, 04:38:09 PM
If people don't get out there... they are missing it... wow what a great weekend for getting out!

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MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK
Good Springs Loop
February 2005


- Gene Snider

A few weeks ago, I was in Bowling Green on business. I decided that if I finished early, I would head over to Mammoth Cave National Park and spend a night in the backcountry.

I didn't arrive at the Visitor Center to get my backcountry permit until 3:30 pm , so I knew that I was going to get a very late start. The Ranger at the main desk told me that I had my choice of all the campsites, as I was the only person in the backcountry that night. My pick was the Collie Ridge site, as I had been there a few years back and I knew there was a perennial source of water at the campsite. After leaving the Visitor Center , I proceeded to the ferry that took me across the Green River . The river was high and the current was very swift; Picture #1

I parked in the lot by the Good Springs Church ; Picture #2. The Good Springs Loop trailhead is to the right of this picture if you are hiking in the counterclockwise direction. The returning trailhead is just to the left of this picture. I finished packing all my gear in the church parking lot; Picture #3

I finally got on the trail at 4:20pm . Picture #4 shows the rocky muddy trail early on. This was a cold, windy, overcast day, and these pictures were taken late in the afternoon. You can occasionally see the blue blazes on the trees in many of the pictures. It had been four years since I had last been to this area, but very little had changed. I spent many days backpacking these trails 13 years ago with my son. At that time, the trail blazes were very poor. Now, the trails are well blazed. One of the neat things about backpacking is comparing an area over a period of years, or decades. One thing that had not changed, but I wish would change, is the sharing of the trails with horses. Most of the trails get pretty torn up by the constant parade of horses. For a karst area, I have been amazed at how wet the trails are. You would think that the surface water would quickly drain underground leaving the trails dry, but that is not the case.

Fortyfive minutes after starting, I arrived at the junction with the Collie Ridge Trail; Picture #5. This is about 2 miles from the starting point at the Good Springs Church . I turned left at this point and continued on toward the Collie Ridge campsite. Oddly, I never saw the trail split for the Shortcut Trail. The Shortcut trail cuts about 1.5 miles off of this loop. I thought I remembered where it should be, and at one point was pretty sure I was in the general area of the Shortcut Trail, but I never saw any sign of this junction.

Collie Ridge Trail, looking southwest, is still used as a forest service road; Picture #6

This is what I call "muddy"; Picture #7. Most of the trails in this area have significant mud, year round. There were many spots on this trip where the mud was six inches deep and made for very slow going.

I was surprised to see a small collection of flowers growing and blooming in the middle of the winter. I suspect that this was an old homesite years ago; Picture #8.

About an hour later, I arrived at the trail spur to the Collie Ridge Campsite; Pictures #9 & #10. Strangely, to this point, I had never seen the junction of the Shortcut Trail and Collie Ridge Trail. This had me puzzled as to how I had missed two trail junctions. The actual campsite is about five or six minutes off of the main trail. There is a leveled area surrounded by treated wood timbers for erecting a tent. There is also a fire ring and metal post for hanging food and garbage; Picture #11

To the immediate left of the campsite is the water source with multiple small water falls which cascade into the valley below; Picture #12. Standing at the campsite looking downhill; Picture #13. This area is absolutely beautiful in the fall and early spring.

My campsite for the night; Picture #14. I managed to setup my tent, unpack and cook before it got dark. Because of the heavy overcast, it got dark very quickly. By the time I finished eating, it was dark. I cleaned everything up and called it a night. I listened to my radio for an hour or so and then fell asleep. I woke up a number of times during the night and each time I noticed something kind of neat. I could see very clearly the woods around my tent and I could read the Eureka name on my tent wall even at 3 am . It must have been a full moon and with the heavy overcast, the entire night sky seemed to glow.

Note! This area has very good FM radio reception. I have a small digital AM/FM radio that I carry with me, and I found about a half dozen very good stations. On a side note, there is NO cell phone coverage once you enter Mammoth Cave National park .

I was up early the next morning with temps in the upper 30's. I repacked all my gear and hiked back up to the ridgeline. From there, the trail dropped back down into the Dry Prong of the Buffalo valley. At this point, I entered an area that I call "Bamboo Jungle". There are large reeds growing here that resemble (and may be for all that I know) bamboo; Picture #15. When I got to the Dry Prong, I found that it was wet. This was the first time I had ever seen water in this area, ever. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to get across the water without getting soaked; Picture #16

Leaving the Dry Prong valley, the trail climbs up to the "Bluffs" ridgeline. There are a couple small rock shelters on the way up; Pictures #17 & #18.

At the top, I reached the trail spur to the Bluffs campsite; Picture #19. This is a really neat spot to camp, especially if the weather is bad. I spent the night here years ago during an all night torrential downpour. It was like being inside a large domed room, totally dry. The Bluffs campsite is a 20 minute hike from this trail junction. This is a backward view along the ridgeline; Picture #20.

A mile or so down the trail from the Bluffs, I could see the Waterfall campsite through the woods. This is one of the most scenic places in the Mammoth Cave backcountry; Picture #21.

As I passed this junction, it dawned on me that I had never seen the trail spur to the Waterfall campsite. Then I looked closely at this sign; Picture #22. The Waterfall campsite had been listed at the bottom of this sign, but painted over in brown paint. The old letters were still visible under the new paint.

As I started up out of the valley toward the trailhead, I snapped this picture; Picture #23

I arrived back at the Good Springs Church trailhead and cemetery around 11am ; Picture #24. I loaded my gear into my car and headed home. Just after crossing the Green River on the ferry, I spotted these deer and wild turkey at the edge of the woods; Pictures #25 & #26

I did go back to the Visitor Center to get a current map. I asked about the Shortcut Trail and Waterfall Campsite. Evidently so many people got lost on the Shortcut Trail, that it was eliminated a few years back. The Waterfall campsite was overused and closed permanently.

For those looking for easy backpacking with many sources of water, the Mammoth Cave National Park is ideal. I would try to plan trips here in the late Fall to Early Spring. Once it gets warm, the ticks take over this area.


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