Back in the summer of 2016, I decided to play hooky from work and go for a hike at Blue Mound State Park on a Monday. As I soon found out, that Monday was one of the hottest, most humid days of that summer. Being the troopers we are, we hiked a good portion of the trails, but decided the rest was too much to tackle that day. This particular Monday also happen to be a few days after a storm dropped torrential rains on the area and washed out one of the trails I was hoping to hike. While still a great day, I felt like there was more to Blue Mound to explore.
Enter part two. Recently I made another trip to see what I had missed out on. This time before leaving I made sure the previously washed out trail was open. It was!
In case you want a recap of the first attempt, here it is.
Like last time, we parked at the parking lot near the east observation tower before taking the picnic connecting trail to the campground. It was all feeling so familiar. This time, however, as we approached the Ridgeview Trail, we could see it was OPEN!
Length: 1 mile linear
Difficulty: Easy for the most part- this trail does have a few steeper hills but is otherwise mostly flat
From the paved Military Ridge State Trail, the trail head of the Ridgeview Trail is tucked back and somewhat easy to miss if it wasn’t for this sign. (That was a theme throughout the park, the trails were very well marked.)
(Sneaky trail head!)
The trail began as a narrow, single person dirt path. It eventually widened as it continued through the woods. Being early in the season, the trail was completely covered by dry leaves in many sections. There were a few times when I had to guess where the trail was going. I think I got it mostly right.
The trail curves to stay inside the park boundary and runs parallel to the Military Ridge Trail for quite some time. As you can see in the photo, there are houses just beyond the other trail, making this section of the Ridgeview Trail feel less secluded.
(A tiny waterfall just off the trail)
Near the end of the Ridgeview Trail, hikers have the option to take the Walnut Hollow Trail for a short extension.
(Like I said, well marked trails.)
Length: .5 mile loop
Difficulty: Easy to slightly less easy – the trail ends with a larger hill
After leaving the woods, this trail widens out and turns into grass as you head towards the prairie. As the name suggests, this segment of trail takes you through a patch of black walnut trees before meeting back up with the Ridgeview Trail.
As we neared the prairie, we noticed an increase in water and mud on the trail. After crossing the road to meet up with the Pleasure Valley Trail and the other prairie trails, it became evident this squish squish sound beneath our feet was going to be constant. Our original plan was to hike 3 more miles, completing the Pleasure Valley, Weeping Rock, and John Minix trails, but after hiking less than half a mile through mud, we decided this was not going to be a good day for prairie trails and turned around. We worked our way back to the parking lot through the muddy trails, stepping from grass patch to grass patch to avoid the worst of the mud and water.
While this wasn’t the best experience I could hope for, it still doesn’t hold the record for being the muddiest trail. That honor remains with the Waihe’e Trail on Maui.
With three more miles of trail, including a trail that loops around this prairie, I think there is going to be a Blue Mound State Park Part III. Maybe it’s better to hike around the prairie when it comes back to life anyway. Until next time, Blue Mound. So close…