From the parking area, proceed ahead (east) along Split Rock Road for 0.3 mile. When you reach the second power line crossing, turn right and follow a dirt road uphill, under the power line. This is the route of the blue-blazed Split Rock Loop Trail, which you will follow for most of the hike. Before reaching the crest of the hill, the trail bears right and enters the woods. After a short,...
From the parking area, proceed ahead (east) along Split Rock Road for 0.3 mile. When you reach the second power line crossing, turn right and follow a dirt road uphill, under the power line. This is the route of the blue-blazed Split Rock Loop Trail, which you will follow for most of the hike. Before reaching the crest of the hill, the trail bears right and enters the woods. After a short, gentle climb, the trail descends into a hollow, then bears right and climbs another rocky ridge. Here, the green-blazed Righter Mine Trail crosses.
Soon, you'll notice a huge glacial erratic to the left of the trail. This boulder, aptly named "The Rock," marks the highest point on the hike (elevation 980 feet). Just beyond, the trail bears right and descends on a winding footpath, with some views through the trees. It then bears left and heads south over undulating terrain.
After again crossing the green-blazed Righter Mine Trail, you'll reach Cedar Point, marked by a single cedar tree. To the southwest, a cable television tower is visible on top of the ridge ahead. Just south of this tower is the site of a Hawk Watch (worth a visit on another occasion).
The trail turns right, soon reaching a rock outcrop, where it turns sharply left and descends on switchbacks. Just before a sharp right turn, the trail goes over a moss-covered mound of rocks -- a remnant of mining activity in the area. Turn left here, leaving the trail, and head uphill for about 100 feet to the mine opening of the Righter Mine. Note the drill marks in the rock walls around the mine shaft and the pile of tailings just below. Use caution, and do not step into the leaf-covered mine shaft.
After viewing this interesting feature, return to the trail, which turns sharply right and heads downhill through a rocky area to reach a wide woods road. Turn right onto this road, now following both blue and green blazes, and continue for 750 feet until the blue blazes turn left and cross the stream on a wooden footbridge. [Note: As of January 2020, this bridge has partially collapsed. Until it is replaced, the stream must be crossed on rocks. This is generally possible, but it may not be possible if the water is high.]
On the west side of the brook, the trail proceeds through a rocky area and bears left to parallel the brook. It briefly joins an old woods road, then turns right, continuing to head south along the brook. In another 500 feet, it turns right and begins to climb, first rather steeply, then more gradually. Soon, you'll cross an old woods road and reach The Maze, where the trail has been routed through narrow passages between large rocks.
After crossing another boulder field, with several small seasonal streams, you'll notice a high ridge looming ahead. The trail bears right to skirt the base of the ridge, then – after passing a huge slanted boulder- turns left and climbs to the top of the ridge.
As you approach the ridge, you can see the Split Rock Reservoir directly ahead through the trees. To the right, a mountain is visible across the valley. You were there about an hour and a half ago! "The Rock" is situated at the top of this mountain, and you've hiked a U-shaped route to reach the spot where you are now.
The Split Rock Loop Trail now bears left, making another U-turn, and climbs to a rock outcrop at the crest of the ridge. It then comes out on an open rock ledge and heads west through the woods to end at the white-blazed Four Birds Trail.
Turn right and follow the Four Birds Trail as it descends, passing a huge glacial erratic on the left. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a woods road – the route of the yellow-blazed Wildcat Ridge Trail, then crosses a stream on rocks. Ahead, there is a steep rise, but the trail bears right and ascends more gradually. Upon reaching the crest of the rise, the trail bears left, but soon turns right and reaches the power lines, It briefly turns left and runs along the power line service road, then turns right and crosses under the power lines. The trail turns left again to parallel the power lines, then heads away from the power lines and parallels Split Rock Road, below on the right. After passing two interesting glacial erratics, the trail descends to Split Rock Road.
Turn right, leaving the trail, follow Split Rock Road downhill to the reservoir dam, and follow the road across the concrete dam. Just beyond the dam, you will see, below to the right, the 32-foot-high charcoal-fired Split Rock Furnace, built of stone in 1862 to smelt magnetite ore into the iron needed for the Civil War. The furnace operated for only about ten years, and was abandoned in the 1870s. The parking area where the hike began is on the left side of the road, just beyond the dam.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 12/02/2005 updated/verified on 12/03/2015
This loop hike winds through rugged terrain south of the Split Rock Reservoir, passing several viewpoints and crossing the cascading Split Rock Brook.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.