Trout Pond is one of the most active geological areas in the GWNF. Limestone eroded by ground water can cause sinkholes to enlarge or form very quickly here. The region is a honeycomb of limestone caves and voids, and Trout Pond itself is an extremely large sinkhole fed by a stream. The recreation area is also one of the most scenic in the Mid-Atlantic. Located in a valley with Rockcliff Lake, a man-made beach, large campground, and many interconnecting hiking trails.
Mile 0.9 - Trout Pond is the largest sinkhole in the campground. The pond is only partially filled even during heavy rains, and generally empty in the summer when water drains into the caverns below. Turn right at Trout Pond and cross a park road. The trail will then arrive at the next park road and rest rooms in 60 yards. Turn right onto the park road and soon the road will split. Stay right and arrive at the Junior Poe trailhead at campsite #27.
Mile 7.2 - Turn left onto the purple Trout Pond Trail and pass a campsite on the left. This section of the hike has many sink holes, and shortly pass the first of four large sinkholes. DO NOT enter the sinkholes as the roofs of the caverns below can easily cave in, and voids are hidden by fallen leaves. Be very cautious not to venture off the trail. After passing the fourth sinkhole reach the intersection with the Outlaw Path. Stay straight and the trail will make a sharp turn to the left and join a wider service road and intersection of the Chimney Rock Trail.
My son (12) and I camped at the Trout Pond Campground and made a weekend out of it. We did this hike in 5 hours, which included lunch and several stops to just to enjoy ourselves. Other than the initial climb to the overlook, I would call this a moderate hike, this time of year there are few viewpoints. We enjoyed the hike and had a great time at the lake. There are definitely several great places to camp on this loop and a few side trails to explore.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 29, 2016
Lovely hike! Difficulty level is 2 out of 5! This is such a beautiful hike especially now as the leaves are changing color and falling and today was such a perfect day with it being exceptionally warm, in the 70s. I started my hike at 10 am and was at the lake within 7-10 minutes. I spent a good 10-15 minutes there and then somehow misread the directions (I went up to the boat trailer parking area), and spent the next 40 minutes wandering around the lake and parking lots, trying to find the campsite and the purple trail. If you saw a day hiker wandering around with a piece of paper in her hand looking lost and confused, it was probably me :( Finally I had to ask one of the older gentlemen for directions, as he pulled his boat out of the lake. I resumed my hike at 11 am (what a shame!).
I really enjoy going uphill more than descending downhill so I didnt mind the initial steep climb- for me it wasn't bad at all (I've done much worse with ease). The overlook is really spectacular especially with the fall colors prominent across the different mountains. The rest of the trail is extremely easy and really fun. I was hoping for more overlooks and views but the beautiful fall colors along the entire hike made up for it. I was back at the lake at 2:40 pm where I ate my lunch in peace enjoying the view and the weather. I saw quite a few people at the lake and also camping at the campgrounds. However I didn't see anybody else at the trail- umm, if you heard some loud melodious singing...it wasn't the nightingale, it was me :)
My gps logged 8.5 miles for me, and that includes my "wandering" distance.
Date of Hike: Saturday, July 30, 2016
When on orange-blazed old woods road, right after 2 stream crossings, ignore bright orange marks on the trees. It is not a trail. The blazes probably indicate a no-hunting boundary. There were plenty of Chantrelle mushrooms growing on and near trails and ripe blackberries on the dam. I saw one rattler in a clearing and fresh bear scat.
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 11, 2016
The first bit of the hike was very steep and even our dog was tired when we got to the overlook. We started the hike from the campground since we were staying the weekend The rest of the hike was good, but it was dry to on the ridge there wasnt much water. The walk along the road was fine and at least the intersections with the other hikes -- there are water stations for horses, so were were able to splash some water on our dog to cool down. When the road meets up with the orange blaze again, there is another water station. There is a camp site there and we encountered a rattle snake at the trail head. Just a note, horses also use the orange trail too so be careful when the trail narrows. As we got closer to the lake, the river was pretty and shaded. Most of the hike was shaded except for a bit on the road. Watch out for ticks and after the hike, go swimming in the very cool mountain lake! The camp ground is nice too and has the amenities - water, showers, bathrooms, with some sites have electric. The tent sites were good and relatively quiet except for the birds including owls.
Date of Hike: Monday, August 17, 2015
Has anyone noticed whether there are campsites on this loop other than the campground? Thanks.