Well the fall color is mostly over, but winter hasn’t gripped the state yet. It was still warm enough to do a hike, and since I fear that may not last, I jumped on the opportunity and headed toward Farmington to hike Davis Creek.
To get here find 500 south in Farmington, follow it east until it curves south. It will eventually turn into a well maintained dirt road and you will see a small reservoir with a small parking lot in front of it on the right. There is a trailhead above that, but if you go just a little bit further up there is a tiny parking lot (2, 3 car max) and the Davis Creek Trailhead.
I came here for a waterfall, but the sign said Pretty Valley 1.1 miles, so that was our goal for the trip. I was a little concerned with all the leaves on the ground that the trail would be hard to follow, but we managed.
The trail started up pretty steeply and before long I already had a pretty view of the valley below.
You can see the Ferris Wheel and The Rocket in Lagoon here.
A view up the canyon.
Okay, I guess the fall color isn’t over yet.
The one area you almost get a horizon around here.
And we get our first peak at the first waterfall.
With some fall color.
Someone actually hauled a bench up here which gives you the view seen in the previous 2 photos. I wouldn’t have done it, but whoever did, thanks!
Looks like a pretty waterfall. I hope the trail gets us in closer.
More pretty color.
Well, a little closer. There was a fork here that said waterfall 100 yards, Pretty Valley .6 miles. So, we went towards the waterfall first.
This side trail is a little sketchy and takes you to the top of the waterfall. Not the best view, but still cool.
Pretty view further up.
Pretty view back down as well. Note the thin trail on the edge of a fairly high cliff. Meep!
Back on the main trail towards Pretty Valley. I love, love all of the leaves.
More amazing valley views. The smog sitting on top of the lake is actually kind of pretty today.
Not much further up we came upon another fork. Pretty Valley to the right at another .4 miles and Hell Hole to the left and up, at, unknown, but best we could make out .6 miles. We continued to our original destination of Pretty Valley, but could not stop thinking about what exactly Hell Hole was.
I hate hate hate these thin switchbacks on steep slopes without much coverage. I don’t take any pictures in them because I am freaked out, but this one was pretty so it’s the best I have to go with what I am saying.
Landis found some acorns.
Amber and gold.
Before we left, one of the articles I read called this Indian Annies Rock (Named after a famous local historical Native American, it resembles a headdress). Returning home another article referred to it as El Capitan. I think I like the first one better, it does resemble an Indian feathered headdress.
Edit: After finding a more detailed map, I have determined this is definitely El Capitan rock. Indian Annies Rock is on the trail just north of here.
Here it is from the other side. The many layers of color and the way it has eroded make it appear to be petrified wood, but I don’t think it is.
And we are back into the scrub oak, with loads of pretty oranges and pinks.
For what does not appear to be a very popular trail, I was pleased with all of the signage and trail markers on this trail (more to come on that). Whatever Farmington forest rangers are paid need to be doubled. So much better than any other local trails we have done.
I really like this part. After hiking up some steep switchbacks on the open side of the mountain, the fairly flat forested part was really nice!
And we have arrived to the edge of Pretty Valley.
There is a nice little camp spot here, although I am not sure why there is a ladder?
I believe this is a spring.
Pretty Valley. It’s pretty, but right now it is not exceptionally pretty.
Landis and I both wondered about the square topped tree. We both doubt this could be natural, but who would tromp all the way up here to cut off the top, and why?
Apparently you can drive up here with an ATV.
Edge of the earth.
Oh look, you can see El Capitan.
Quick panoramic from this vista. There was another camp site here but I didn’t get a photo. Seems like a terrible place to try to keep a fire going.
Back to the valley.
We decided to take a break at the first campsite.
Where I noticed I had picked up a couple of hitchhikers.
After resting a bit we decided to start heading back, when we noticed the trail went up a bit higher. Huh. Well, we got our nature fix in for the day, maybe we will return to see where this goes one day. Besides I really want to go explore Hell Hole.
Back into the forest.
Gold and Blue.
Back to the giant rock.
And the view back to where we were. (Note the topped off tree).
Not much further down we returned to the fork in the trail and decided that a place called Hell Hole was something that we shouldn’t pass up. So we decided to see what this was.
One of the things that lead us to believe these trails are not used too often is that there is grass growing on it.
The trail to Hell Hole took us up some more scrub oak.
It was also really, really steep. No switchbacks here, just UP! This photo didn’t quite capture it as I had hoped it would.
The trail finally flattened out some however is really getting harder to find. Luckily there is a pretty obvious path through the tree’s.
And then suddenly, spruces!
We arrived at this camp ground, there is a sign post but it doesn’t have any information. I can hear the creek to the left, however the trail seems to go to the right. Confirmed by another trail marker. Alright we will go right.
After climbing up another steep ridge we came to another sign that said Sheppard Trail the way we had come from and Prayer Rock to the right .3 miles. The trail also continued forward, as well as up to the left but the sign didn’t say what these trails lead to. Where was Hell Hole? Did we miss it? Meh, lets see what Prayer Rock is.
Now this trail was REALLY sketchy. With all of the dead leaves it was really hard to follow. However, every single time I thought I lost it, I would look up and either find a tin can nailed to a tree (as seen above) or a ribbon. So we continued following it.
Interesting bark shedding.
We found Prayer Rock. Here is the view from it.
And lookie here, I can see Pretty Valley (again, note the squared off spruce). I would bet the trail that continued up from Pretty Valley most likely lead to the fork we had just come from.
And the view back up the mountains. I can’t tell for sure, but I think I see a waterfall there. (Zooming in on the photo appears to confirm that).
Green and gold.
The rock itself is crystallized granite I think.
Landis on Prayer Rock.
I actually really like this shot of Prayer Rock.
A spot of red.
Better shot of the waterfall.
Quick crop shows it a little better.
Uhm. Crap. Where is the trail??? Luckily we finally saw a ribbon but I had a small panic attack here.
We got back down the the camp ground below the ridge. (picture shows a small stream to the right of it) and I was certain that I heard a waterfall, and was wanting to find Hell Hole, so I just followed my ears, and what seemed to be a trail.
Eventually I found the stream again. We could see a waterfall above, unfortunately obscured by trees.
The stream against the layered rock.
After some, kind of scary boulder scrambling, we reached the waterfall. Definitely not the one I saw from Prayer Rock, but still pretty all the same. One of the articles I read stated that there are 4 waterfalls up this canyon, each better than the last. I can confirm at least one more, so a return trip is definitely in order.
And the view back down. Do you see a clear path?
Stream through the rocks.
Scrambling over boulders.
Moss on the rocks.
Another view down.
The other side of the canyon.
Random mound of boulders.
At this point the trail again forked all 4 directions, with trail markers each way. I explored a bit each way I had not been before hoping to discover what Hell Hole was. I had guessed maybe it was the name of the waterfall, maybe it was the name of this forest, or maybe it was something we just had not found. Upon returning home and researching it, Hell Hole is the spruce forest we ventured through. The campsite is Hell Hole Campsite. Alright, good to know.
Pretty views again.
Ug. Back to the open ridge. However, I think my hike (almost) to the Wind Caves ruined me, so I forced myself to look down on the way down. Seriously I freaked out over this? Definitely not nearly as bad.
Back down to the first waterfall and the much much needed bench.
And what a wonderful way to end an amazing hike!
This trail was marked easy. There is absolutely no way I would consider this easy. It was steep, there were several dangerous steep drop offs, in order to see either waterfall involved really scary drop offs or sketchy boulder scrambling. I would not recommend bringing children on this trail. It was however beautiful and a really fun adventure. Farmington so far is the winning city on trail marking. Beautiful fall color, 2 waterfalls (with the promise of 2 more) plenty of camping opportunities. It was tough, but it was gorgeous, and we didn’t run into a single soul. I really must go with 9 out of 10 squirrels. Only losing 1 due to how difficult it was.