Hike Summary: 6.7 miles through beautiful Ozarks terrain, and a 10-mile weekend.
I posted the pictures from this hike at my Google+ site:
Our Scout Troop 15 had our monthly camp at Robbers Cave this past weekend. I got there early since I came in directly from a business trip to Dallas, and had a chance to hike a beautiful trail.
I love Robbers Cave State Park. I grew up in Muskogee, and so our family made many trips to Robbers Cave. The trails in the park have been added since those days, when we would hike around Lake Carleton by bushwhacking. I got to hike the Mountain Trail at Robbers Cave when our Troop had Winter Camp there in 2012.
I got to our Eagles Nest campsite around 1645 and set up my tent, and then headed off. The blue-blazed trail extends north from the Mountain Trail just west of our campsite; I walked a short distance on a yellow-blazed trail to get to the intersection.
The yellow-blazed trail is an equestrian trail.
The trail winds generally north to Cattail Pond. The dam on the east side of the pond was torn up. I found out from a Ranger later that a primitive campsite is being built on the west side (we did a night hike to Cattail Saturday night, and sat at the under-construction camp for telling ghost stories). On the way, you get to walk along the side of Rough Canyon, which is really a Rough Ravine, that has a very nice stream running through it.
From Cattail, you swing east and go up and down until you get to Lost Lake. That is such a beautiful area. The Lake has a great-looking primitive camp area, and would be a good swimming area.
The next landmark is the Cave area. I had not realized it, but the trail goes right in front of another huge bouldering area that is a couple hundred yards west of the Cave area. That is on the list for exploring next time I’m there.
There are no trail signs to lead you there, but the trail ends up in the parking area below the Cave area. It continues on from the west side of the parking lot, and follows Fourche Maline Creek for a while. Fourche Maline is French, and means “bad fork” in English. I wonder why?
As the trail veers away from Fourche Maline, it heads up. I managed to miss the fork in the trail, and followed a social trail for a couple hundred yards until I realized I had not seen any blazes in a while. I backtracked a little, and soon saw blazes higher up, and bushwhacked up to them.
The trail goes up and over a ridge, and is flattish until you get near Rough Canyon again. There is a beautiful creek crossing, then it’s back up and out of the Canyon, and then pretty much all downhill back to camp.
This trail was lovely. It’s quite rocky. You are shaded most of the time. If you want to pump water, there are a number of creeks that were flowing in April (Rough Canyon in particular had quite a bit) and of course Cattail and Lost Lake had lots of water.
Here are the topo and altitude profiles:
Saturday I talked to a Venture Crew that was getting in shape for Philmont. They were doing a loop from the base area, to the Cave area, to Lost Lake to camp, and then on around to the Mountain Trail to finish off. That sounds like a great loop.
The Troop had a 2.8 mile night hike from Eagles Nest to Cattail Pond using a road (maps below). This gave me 9.5 hiking miles for the weekend, and certainly over 10 once you count all the walks up and around the Cave area.
I talked to a Ranger Saturday evening about the trails. I had seen several references to a Yellow trail. Turns out that is an equestrian trail – network! The Ranger said there were about *90* miles of trails! I found this map online. I also got a paper map from the park office that I will scan and post. The Ranger said that while the trails were meant for horse riders, they had no problem with hikers or backpackers using them, as long as it wasn’t the same time as an equestrian event, and as long as the use is coordinated with the Rangers. Some these trails are in the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to the east, but others are on the far north side, and some very nice trails on the far west side up in the mountains. Lots of terrain there to be explored.