|Date: Day length:||5/20/2013 6.5 hours|
|Elevation Gain:||1400 ft|
|Total Distance:||16 mi|
~2800ft turn around
This is the second time I have hiked on the Middle Fork trial, this time I started farther up as to hike a part I haven't visited yet. Today the start location was Dutch's Miller Gap trail head, I took the Middle Fork trail up to its end and took the Dutch's Miller Gap trail/road back down for a nice loop getting to spend time on both sides of the river.
Today like a lot of days I failed to get an early start, not getting to the trail head until 11:30am. The Middle Fork road got quite a bit of work done on it this early spring: it has gone from one of the worst potholed roads in the state (a reference point for bad roads by outdoor enthusiasts) to any well maintained dirt road where you can go 35 mph if you so desire without worry of damaging your vehicle.
This hike like most river hikes especially in the spring was full of creek and river crossings some with bridges, some with basic stepping stones, trying to cross small creeks staying dry is probably one of my favorite parts of hiking along rivers; balancing on slippery rocks and logs really breaks up the monotony of up/down of river trails. Today was no exception I got to play on lots of bridges some with nice views even (below).
Before Goldmyer campground the Middle Fork trail had seen some use this spring, though beyond it I am fairly curtain that today’s trip was one of the first of the season, the snow that remained on the trial was footprint free and had the fresh melting appearance, that and a lot of large blow downs and branches scattered across the trail. A mile or so after Goldmyer I happened upon a hot-spring leaking, it was constructed with piping and such that quite surprised and confused me as I approached it, I wasn't expecting anything build being along the trail at that point.
After the Middle Fork trail merged with the Dutch's trail on the way back down the views got better. The Dutch's road didn't hug the river as closely allowing for more mountain views across the valley. Also getting to go down hill is always a relief and makes you feel strong even at the end of a fairly lengthy hike.