Visitors to the park often want to know about trail conditions. Well, in the summer there are 2 driving thoughts. 1. Quartzite (The rock that makes up the many stairways up the bluffs.) is slippery when wet. 2. Steinke Basin gets muddy. So with that in mind, you can assume that in summer the trails around the lake (East Bluff, West Bluff, Tumbled Rocks, etc.) will be in good condition unless it rains, in which case the stairs will be slippery until they dry off. Easy. 🙂
The trails that become most questionable in summer are the Steinke Basin Loop and the nearly 4 mile long Uplands Trail. The Steinke Basin trail starts each year wet and rarely dries out until late in the summer. That’s just the way it is in a “basin”. In fact, the nature center holds their popular “Mud Hike” on the Steinke Basin Loop in the spring. So how is the loop right now? Well, in sections, it’s still pretty muddy but for the most part it can be walked around.
The Uplands Trail is unique in that it’s a long loop covering a variety of terrain AND it is the only bike trail in the park. The Uplands is popular among mountain bikers and hikers looking for a somewhat challenging hike or just to spend some time away from the crowds. Trail conditions on the Uplands seem to be ever-changing and when you’re cruising full bore on your bike, can matter from week to week. With that in mind, here’s what I found yesterday…
Right now the south-east lowland section of the Uplands trail is wet, very wet. There are some sections you can get around, but in some areas you just have to bite the bullet and get your feet/tires wet. The bigger issue out there right now is maintenance. There are a few small trees down on the eastern half of the loop. The upside is that they all can be walked or biked around at the moment.
Another problem out on the Uplands trail right now are the washouts. In 4 or 5 sections of the trail there are deep ruts cutting through the trail. This could be a bit risky for cyclists who come upon them unaware. The longer the ruts go un-maintained the more the trail is being eaten away with each storm. If you ride/hike the trail counter-clockwise expect to start seeing the ruts just as you come down the last slope and the trail begins to parallel Hwy 113. This is where you’ll encounter the mud as well.
So all in all, if you like it rough, you’ll enjoy the Uplands trail right now. Just really keep your eyes on the trail. Oh, and yes, the mosquitos and ticks are out in full force, so bring your bug spray and tuck your pants into your socks!!