As per usual, snippets of interesting information is interspersed in the photos and the main write up is at the end!
On the south side of highway 118 where the main campground and park facilities reside, there is a robust trail system. However, the state park continues on the north side of the highway with the Limpia Creek trail leading up the mountain to the 5.6 mile Sheep Pen Canyon Loop where you can haul in all of your water and camp at a backcountry site. Also available up on top is the Limpia Creek Vista.
When we left from the trailhead I had thought the vista was much closer and that we might get to have a view once we arrived on top but I realized later after reviewing the map we would not be taking the extra 1.5 miles to the vista once we arrived on the mountain. As it was, our goal was to just arrive to the top of the mountain which was about 2.5 miles one way. My Garmin says we hiked about 5.5 miles that day, which accounted for some extra meandering as we wandered down Limpia Creek for Chris to set up a wildlife cam to see what we might catch walking down the creek.
The hike was going to be an ambitious one with Forest, despite our hike the previous day on the Indian Lodge Trail, but Forest seemed ready for that long of a hike. It was going to be the ‘up a mountain’ part that I wasn’t sure he would take to.
We were off to a start, following or crossing Limpia Creek in sections. In the distance we could see people working their way down the mountain, having headed up earlier than our start, which wasn’t terribly late, sometime mid-morning, but we weren’t the early birds. Other than a series of switch backs about a half a mile or so in, the trail was well graded and not too steep. Forest was in good spirits but we also took plenty of breaks, both for snacks and just general resting.
There were gorgeous scenes everywhere I looked.
Eventually I think we all started getting antsy as the trail kept meandering towards a point and then turn back around to the back side of the mountain. To keep Forest motivated we would gently nudge him along by saying the top of the mountain was ‘around the corner’ or ‘just over there’. That worked the first few times but eventually a melt-down started forming and finally we found a large rock to sit on not far from the trail junction with the Sheep Pen Canyon Loop. We’d worked up a sweat hiking up but in the shade of the trees our sweat chilled us quickly.
A few more small groups of people passed us as we ate our lunch and I wished Forest had had the stamina to continue on to the overlook. Hopefully next year or soon after he’ll have trail legs for that. As it was, we were just proud of how good he had done on the way up.
Now we had to make our way back down!
The way down went a little easier and not long after we started hiking a man came down the trail and we let him pass us. For some reason Forest got it in his head that he wanted to give the man a high five and we had a brief conversation about that and kind of let it go until the man stopped and talked to a couple who were making their way up. We stopped to let them chat for a second and not to leap frog because we knew the man would just pass us once again a few minutes later, and in the mere few seconds of us waiting Forest walked up to the man and tried to give him a high five but entirely without context! He startled the man and Forest was kind of confused by the situation and thankfully the conversation between the man and the couple ended shortly after and the man kinda hauled off down the hill, I’m sure a little confused by a kid who didn’t know what he was trying to do! We never saw the man again so we couldn’t explain what Forest had been trying to do. Oh well!
We made it down the mountain sometime mid-afternoon with plenty of time to relax back at camp. I was so proud of Forest for having hiked that far and up the mountain! I may have been secretly planning a thru-hike of the JMT or something similar for us in the next few years while we hiked! I’d love to return to the trail again later and hike the loop trail and maybe have an overnight up on top. It was a gorgeous hike!