The forest service road to the trailhead from Ladd Springs Road is long and mostly gravel and dirt, making a few (me included!) wonder if the hike would be worth it. The answer was an unequivocal yes! It couldn't have been a better morning for the 21 hikers to be in the woods. We started out in groups, meandering along the wide trail headed into deep hardwoods behind our hike leader, Gary Smith. Except for distant hilltops seen through the trees to our right, there wasn't a lot to break up the scenery. We did have to pass through a tree broken across the trail and I showed my lack of agility! Soon, though we went around a bend and the sun warmed the trail, overshirts started coming off. In no time, I began to hear the distinct sound of water gurgling below the trail and a short distance beyond that, we came down into an opening in the trail with a wide creek to get across. My boots came off (I have to make note of the first creek crossing!) and my water shoes came on. I'm not sure I really needed to, but I wanted to!
Beyond this, we had a gradual climb, winding in and around curves. About 3 miles in, we took a sharp right, turning back along a trail that followed Jack's River. From here the scenery was beautiful. Lush moss growing green, boulder areas along the creek; even a profusion of striking yellow daffodils. We went about 1 1/2 miles alongside the scenic river, including rock hopping a boulder area and crossing another small creek before arriving at the large rocky ledge above Jack's River Falls.
A few of the group stopped to eat their lunch at the rock ledge above the small falls. Below the small falls, we found a rounded pool area that held deep green water before it rushed on down the rock-lined chute of the main falls where a mist swirled and water churned into white froth. Several wide, slanted rocks beside the big falls is where the remainder of the hikers ate their lunch. All except Stormy. She caused the Trail Chroniclers' heart to flutter when she walked out along the ledge of the falls to plop down and eat her lunch! But, she did look so peaceful out there.
The sun was warm on the rocks, the company was good, Che had dark chocolate to give as a treat....living seemed so easy. But then we had to head back. :-( Just to make sure we knew we were back in the real world, when we reached the parking area the gnats attacked! Sorry, Larry, I'm really not complaining...just chronicling.