South Fork of Gordon Creek

South Fork of Gordon CreekIt always seems like the number of pictures that I take on any particular outing is directly proportional to how much fun I have. Traci and I both filled up the memory cards on our cameras during yesterday’s ATV ride along the south fork of Gordon Creek, so I think it’s safe to say that we had an excellent time! 🙂 I had wanted to ride out to the Gordon Creek waterfall for quite some time, but over the last few weeks I’d either been too busy or the weather had been too wet. Last weekend somebody found the geocache that I placed out there, which was the first find in more than a year, and it made me want to go even worse.
I really didn’t expect to have as much fun as we did yesterday. We parked the truck just off Consumers Road, then unloaded the ATVs and took the gravel road all the way to the railroad trestle, where the kids climbed around on the bridge supports and we hiked to the nearby petroglyphs. From there we backtracked a little bit and took the rough, steep road leading to the lower falls along the south fork of Gordon Creek. We had to drive through the north fork of Gordon Creek along the way, which I believe is the first time we’ve had to ford a creek on the ATVs. The water looked much deeper than it was, so when Traci crossed it first, we weren’t sure what to expect. She made it across just fine–the water was only a few inches deep–so I proceeded to cross and followed her the rest of the way to the falls.
We spent a lot of time at the lower falls. At first we had the kids take off their shoes and socks and roll up their pant legs so they could play in the water, but there was enough algae on the sandstone in the bottom of the creek that several times they slipped and fell into the water. We had to dry their pants out before we started riding again, so we just had them strip down to only their shirts, which they seemed to think was fun. It’s a good thing we were the only people out there.
After the upper falls, which are accessible by full-sized 4×4 vehicles, we rode farther west on a trail that is barely wide enough for ATVs in some places. A friend of mine had sent me some pictures of the area east of the falls, where there is an old cabin and a sandstone cistern along the creek. I’d been to the falls several times and never knew about the stuff farther east, so we set out to find it. I knew where the cabin was because it’s visible in Google Earth, but the cistern I only knew vaguely where it was–somewhere along a two-mile stretch of trail. We actually found the cistern with little trouble because it was easily visible from the trail. It’s constructed much like an igloo, with a curved top that is unsupported in the center. I don’t know how old it is, but I would imagine that it’s 100 years old or so, which would make it quite an engineering feat for the homesteaders who originally tried settling this area. The inside was surprisingly clean, with just a few plant roots penetrating the walls and no dirt or silt in the bottom. We only spent a few minutes there looking at it, but it was an interesting stop.
Farther east along the trail, we turned onto a side trail that I could see in Google Earth, but that wasn’t visible in the USGS black and white aerial photography from the late 1990s. That alone piqued my curiosity, so I just had to check it out and see what the attraction was. As an aside, I’ve found a lot of interesting things by following dead-end roads that I first saw in Google Earth–most such roads around here were created for reasons that are only obvious when you travel to the end of them, and it’s usually worth the trip. Anyway, it turns out that there is another waterfall at the end of this short spur road, smaller than the lower falls but larger than the middle falls which we had passed up on our ride earlier. We ate lunch there under the shade of a big tree, and we hiked around and played in the water some more. It was a great spot for a picnic, and I don’t doubt that we’ll be going back someday this summer.
The cabin wasn’t much farther down the trail from the upper falls, and we spent 15 or 20 minutes there checking out the cabin and surrounding area. I could imagine living there, so far from civilization and without any modern conveniences, and it couldn’t have been an easy way of life.
I could see that the ATV trail continued beyond the cabin, but a sign at the beginning of the trail said not to proceed past the cabin, so we returned the way we came. Since I hadn’t been paying close attention to my GPS on the way in and missed the middle falls, we stopped there on the way back. I had hiked in to the middle falls several years ago, but I couldn’t remember much about the area. We found that it’s not as fun a place to hang out as the lower and upper falls–you have to hike a short distance from the ATV trail, and the falls are much smaller–so we just spent a couple of minutes there before riding back to the truck.
Here’s a quick video showing parts of the ATV trail and the lower and upper waterfalls:

We had only planned on spending two or three hours out there, but we ended up being gone from home for seven hours. I think the next time it’s hot outside and we’ve got nothing else going on, we’ll go back to the lower falls to play in the water again. This time I’ll bring some shorts and sandals so I can play in the water right alongside the kids.

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Google Earth .KML – GPS Track and Waypoints

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