Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Sipsey Wilderness Adventure

With rain in the forecast for early next week, we wanted to get in as much hiking as possible.  This morning we headed back over to Sipsey Wilderness to hike the Rippey Trial.  Now that we knew there is no hunting in the area where we would be hiking we got an earlier start this morning.  We drove the 50 miles and were at the trailhead by 9:30 AM.
Our trail for today was 201, the Rippey Trail

By the way, we’re getting our trail information and description from the Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club webpage.  Their trail descriptions have been very helpful.  Of course, we also carry that very detailed map we got at the sporting goods store.  I’m not sure where the trail names come from.  The Forest Services uses numbers on all their documents to identify the trails.  The map we got at the sporting good stores uses numbers to identify trails.  The Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club uses these same numbers, but they also have names attached to those numbers.  Personally, I like trail names.

The 2.6-mile Rippey Trail starts at the Randolph Trailhead on CR 60.  This is a small parking lot with room for only about 8 cars.  Our map indicates it is a fee area, but there was no iron ranger or fee envelopes.  We hung our National Park pass in the window just to be on the safe side.  At the trailhead, there is a kiosk with a map and the trail just to the right.  There is a gated gravel road to the left.  The trail joins this road so it’s possible to hike the road instead of the trail for the first quarter mile or so.  We took the trail on our way out and the road on our way back.
Deciding where to go next.

The Rippey Trail was almost the opposite of what we did yesterday on the Borden Creek Trail.  The Borden Creek trail started down in the gorge and followed the creek for the entire length of the trail.  Today, on the Rippey Trail, we started on the ridge and stayed there for the entire length of the trail giving us a very nice woods walk.  We only passed one campsite today compared to the many we saw yesterday.  Although the terrain was relatively flat on the ridge, there was no water which would make overnight camping difficult.  The one campsite we saw was within 15 minutes of the trailhead; a short enough distance that a backpacker could carry in water.

We were real glad the trail had been cleared through these blowdowns.
We saw a lot of blowdowns along this trail, but fortunately they had been cleared.  Technically, in a designated Wilderness area, blowdowns muct be cut with a hand saw or an axe.  No tool with a motor can be used.  We were very grateful for the hard work done to clear those trees.

This was a short, easy trail so we found ourselves at the junction with the Sipsey River and Thompson Creek trails after about an hour.  We weren’t ready to turn around just yet, so Gene studied the map to determine our best choice.  We decided to take the Thompson Creek trail off the ridge and down into the gorge.  Thompson Creek trail did not have its blowdowns cleared and we spent a considerable amount of time crawling over, under, and through fallen trees--a true wilderness experience.
I think I'm getting too old for this!

Thompson Creek trail is rated moderate and, besides the blowdowns to navigate, we also had a pretty steep descent down to the creek.  Once we were near the creek we started seeing campsites again and stopped at one for our lunch.  After a nice long break we turned around, headed up the bluff, through all those fallen trees, and back to the car.
Heading down into the gorge through a laurel thicket.

It was another beautiful day and a great hike.

Lunch at a campsite by the creek.
That’s all for now.  Thanks for tagging along.


  1. Another great hike! I love that picture of heading down into the gorge through the laurel thicket.

    Sure seem to be some nice places to hike around that area.

  2. That's certainly a lot of hand sawing to clear all those blowdowns.