Saturday, May 6, 2017

Salt Fork Wildlife Management Area - a secret hike

It didn't rain!  This must be Camelot.  Based on last night's forecast I had expected a washout this morning, but the rain ended as daylight arrived.  By afternoon the sun even came out.

I took advantage of the unexpected good fortune and hiked almost fifteen miles today in six segments.

The first segment was through the big Red Hill Farm Wildlife Conservation Area.

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It looks like a big working farm, and the hike was all on gravel roads, but there were some nice ponds.

And this entrance gate made of portal stones almost reminded me of stone-age Europe.

I'm always looking for good photogenic old trees.  Here's a nice old Cherry.

Next segment was along Tuttle Road.  The entire length of the road I was passing cattle farms.

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Third segment was quirky Sugartree Road.  Even the name is quirky.  One resident had decorated a small pond with all sorts of yard art including a life-size sasquatch complete with an Ohio ball cap and inner tube float.

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Finally I got into the sprawling Sugar Run Wildlife Management Area, first hiking some forest roads along Sugartree Branch, where they had built multiple wetland impoundments such as this.

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Then came the joy of the day--3.3 miles of pure foot-only trail in the woods.

This was very lightly used.  This quiet gem in the middle of lots of road walking is a well kept secret.

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A foot track caused by trampling was not visible, but apparently they run a tractor/mower through there once a year or so to keep the route cleared.  Dogwoods were still blooming but most were past their peak.

There were some surprisingly strenuous short climbs here, and most of the trail followed ridges and high ground, so although the footing was soggy in places, there were no flooded areas to deal with.

The last section was back on woods roads but still in Salt Fork WMA.

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Here I came beside the Salt Fork itself, high and muddy from last night's heavy rain.

The headline photo was taken along this segment, and I passed other nice ponds including this one that was choked with vegetation shore to shore.

Two places I passed today had the distinctive noisy buzz of honey bees swarming.  With all the wildflowers in bloom it must be the season for spawning new hives.  Both places the hives were in Cherry trees which are notoriously hollow as they get older.

Lastly, here's a GPS track map overlaid on the terrain to give you an overview of today's adventures.

Forecast for tomorrow is for cooler but mostly rain free.  Watch.  It'll probably rain all day.

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