Today felt a little off kilter. When we checked WeatherBug this morning, rain was forecast. Since I generally only take Frankie out hiking in fair weather conditions, we just hung around the house all morning. I had been away for work most of the past week, and Frankie had a lot of plans for our Frankie-Mama day yesterday. While that included a bike ride around the neighborhood (Frankie biking, me walking), these plans mostly involved Legos and other indoor activities. By lunchtime today, when there was still no hint of impending storms, cabin fever set in. I checked the radar and decided we could check out the western trailhead at Green Lakes State Park.
The lake trails are the best known at Green Lakes: gorgeous, but busy. The Old Growth Trail is up above Round Lake, and can be accessed from trails near both the campgrounds and park office, as well as from the Round Lake Trail. The mature forest is beautiful, and the trails away from the water see far much less traffic. I have hiked both these areas on numerous occasions, but had never parked at the western trailhead. Despite being right on 290 between Fayetteville and the main park entrance, the small unmarked lot would be easy to miss. A non-specific "truck access" sign is the only marking visible from the road. There is no fee to park here, no staff, no trail map (we had one from a previous visit), no interpretive signage. Just a small purple blaze on a fence post.
We knew the Deer Run Trail would be blazed with purple so followed the markings along a dirt road through what appeared to an old gravel bed. The trail passes briefly through successional woods and hedgerows, but mostly weaves a rolling course through old farm fields. The loop is well marked and easy to follow. However, it was hot and muggy this afternoon, and we sweated buckets in the sun. We would have been better off in the deep shade of the Old Growth area. Although there are additional trails that could be explored from the western trailhead via the Overlook Trail, which connects the Deer Run Trail to the Farmers Hill Trail and others further east, we will return only in cooler temperatures.
Aside from the exposure, the other main drawback is that the Deer Run Trail consists of old roads for the entire length. This is common at Green Lakes and makes for easy footing underfoot, but I prefer single track trails to roads of any kind.
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