Lily Bluff, Beauty in the Obed

We have tried for several weeks to kickstart 2022 hiking, but things kept getting in the way, mostly the bitter cold. On Tuesday, January 18th, we finally convinced ourselves that the cold would be tolerable and the terrain, not too icy. Only three in our hiking group were available so three it was.

Tom drove us from the Obed Visitors Center in Wartburg to the trailhead. Over and over, he noted that the downhill approach to the trail start could be icy and dangerous, and a backup plan may need to be activated. This trip was our first into the Obed and we did not have a backup plan, we were counting on NOT skidding off the road! Luckily Morgan County road crews had been hard at work and even the back, back road to the Lily Bluff area was drivable.

Lily Bluff parking area had been scraped; only small traces of snow remained. The bridge itself was a bit dicey but not dangerous. Clear Creek (below the bridge) was running strong from recent rain and snow. We saw a van (parked on the far side of the bridge) with a Colorado license plate and side stenciling that promoted a standup paddleboard company. We know the Obed is internationally known but hopefully no paddleboarding on this day!!!

The snow was oh so beautiful and we were so pleased at how much had fallen compared to the small accumulation we received at home. The trailhead, located across from the parking area, started immediately uphill with about 50 plus steps. I was huffing and puffing. I could tell I had not hiked for a few weeks.

Trailhead to “The Bridge” trail which was a section Tom decided to add on to the hike to extend its relatively short distance.

Aside from kayaking, the Obed is well known for climbing. After the 50+ steps (noted above), we arrived at one of many park rock formations where anchors had been set for climbing. This park, as well as several others on the Cumberland Plateau has the most incredible rock walls.

While we did run into a couple of climbers headed to “The Point”, we did not see anyone else attempting to climb in the cold, ice and icicles.

Tom has treated us to at least one waterfall on every hike he has led on the Cumberland Plateau. This hike was no exception with Melton Mill Branch cascade visible not too far from the trail. Unlike other waterfalls we have visited recently, getting close to these falls was not possible. Tom pointed out several rocky overlooks, but I chose not to walk out on the ice. I am a chicken that way.

Melton Mill Branch Cascade. View from the trail through the rhododendron was pretty good. Not sure if summer foliage would block the visibility.

The Bridge, about .5 miles from the trailhead, is an elaborate section of raised, wooden walkways ending at several spectacular overlooks.

John and Tom headed to the overlook. While covered in snow, The Bridge was not particularly icy.
Vegetation “tundra” around the bridge.

We stopped at one of two overlooks connected by The Bridge trail. I asked a couple at the overlook if they wanted their picture taken with such a magnificent background, they reciprocated with a photo of us.

Me and hats…. normally I just don’t but after a few dumps of snow from overhanging branches and several near misses with falling icicles, I put one on. I always carry a hat “just in case.”
Clear Creek at the bottom of this beautiful canyon. To the left is the road to the trailhead.

From the Bridge Trail to the Point trail, we had another bridge and creek to cross. Again, not too icy and a good place to pause and enjoy the surroundings.

John crossing the bridge
The view from the above bridge

As the temperature warmed, snow and icicles fell from overhead branches. The snow was wet and heavy, weighing down weaker trees. Tom spent most of the hike out front and was the “tree shaker” or “snow plow” if you will.

Tom shaking branches hanging over the trail. You can see from the snow on his shoulders and hat that he couldn’t clear the higher branches.

We stopped for lunch shortly before arriving at The Point. The lunch spot was chosen based on protection from falling snow and the incredible view. John and I crawled under this rock shelf while Tom selected an outcropping of rocks so he could meditate and enjoy the view.

View from my protected lunch spot
Under the rock, that was my lunch spot.
Canyon view from our stop.

The Point was really grassless dead-end that climbers use to stage their belay and climbs. If we hadn’t enjoyed the hike so much, the trail end would have been a little anti-climatic but it was just our turnaround point to trace our steps back to the car and see a few things we missed on the way out.

Nice arch along the trail as we near the The Point
This entry was posted in Hiking, Obed, Outside, Retirement, Winter and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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