The four of us met at the Elmore State Park Trailhead for a hike start time of 9 am. State Park Gate was closed so headed to next road (Beach Road) and turned right to park across from the beach area of Lake Elmore. We waited until everyone arrived due to the parking lot main entrance closed. Susan had scoped out the park area as was coming back to beach parking lot as Marcus and I arrived. Kathleen arrived shortly after Marcus and I. We prepared our gear and discussed trail etiquette/safe hiking procedures and we were off at 9:15 am.
Welcome Kathleen to first GMC hike! The beginning trail (0.3 miles) was a road surface until reached turn off to Fire Tower Trail. I would say the mountain weather forecast was off as stated no showers until 11 am. It was a light rain so not a hindrance but we were hoping for some potential opportunity of summit views before clouds/light rain took over as mountain forecast stated 0.0 – 0.1 inches of rain. I only recall one area as we approached the old ranger station which was an ascent that was a steep climb albeit brief. We arrived at the old ranger station that overlooks Lake Elmore at ~ 10:15 am but again no views due to low cloud cover/light rain. We took a few pictures/selfie of group and spent about 10 minutes at the old ranger station. Then, we headed up to the fire tower area which was 0.1 miles up the trail to arrive at 10:35 am.
A few of us walked up the tower to say we climbed the tower and I wanted to see how windy/cold as a comparison to last year’s Belvidere hike tower climb. The top level of the fire tower has a half wall of plywood so able to duck below iron window panes to get out of the wind. Our hike next segment was Ridge Trail at ~10:55 am to find the next feature of Balancing Rock at which we arrived at 11:20 am. We had a little fun with some humorous pictures as pretending to hold up the balancing rock. Since weather was not conducive to a sit down break for a snack and due to the shorter distance of this hike, we kept moving with arrival at the trailhead parking lot at 12:45 pm.
The interesting part of the hike was as we rounded the corner to head down to the parking lot the sun attempted to make a brief appearance feeling a bit of warmth for a minute and during the drive back to Burlington area the sun came out. Definitely a hike in need of repeating to take in the view of Lake Elmore at the old ranger station while taking a snack break so next year this hike will have to occur before end of September. Hike length 4.4 miles, 1466′ elevation gain, and loop hike.
Participants: Kathleen Dwinell, Susan Tobin, Marcus Keely, & Dale Schmit (leader).
Photos: Dale Schmit, Kathleen Dwinell.