Clifty Falls was one of the first parks I visited when I was getting back into hiking a few years ago and I revisited when I was training for the Twin Valley Challenge. But somehow, I hadn’t ever camped there.
Fall camping reservations went fast this year and by the time I looked for something in October, I had few options. I was very excited to find a weekend at Clifty Falls. A few days before my trip, I realized I had accidentally booked a non-electric site. Not the end of the world, but I had hoped to winterize the trailer using an air compressor. Luck was on my side and I happened to check the reservation site the day before I left and caught a cancellation in the electric area!
The Clifty Falls campground is about 165 sites large, 100 of which are electric. The electric and non-electric sites are divided into two loops. The sites all seem relatively level and spacious enough, though few seemed to offer much shade. I had a bit of adventure in checking in, so ended up in in #3, an overflow site. It was great for my needs and woman at the gate was very helpful in fixing the problem.
Firewood and ice were available at the registration booth, although they seemed to be charging $6.01 for a bundle of wood. Be sure to bring your pennies! I had okay Verizon service there – usually one bar of LTE. Other areas of the park were a little better or worse.
For such a relatively small park, the hiking options are plentiful. None of the trails are particularly remote, but the area is pretty enough to forgive that. On the second weekend of October, the waterfalls were pretty non-existent, but the leaves were spectacular. A couple overlooks gave an idea of the variety of hardwoods populating the area.
The first trail I followed was Number 5. I descended to where the falls normally would be and enjoyed the rock formation without much of a cascade. A bit further up the trail, I dug my headlamp out of my bag and traversed the extremely dark man-made tunnel. I am barely 5” 3” and had to duck in several places. I was surprised at how well Blue took to exploring the cave. The floor was very uneven, so some sort of light is a must. This was a great way to mix up the hiking in the area – just enough adventure to make it fun!
From the tunnel I eventually made it to a very steep set of stairs climbing to the Lilly Memorial. It was a heart-thumper going up the stairs to the parking area. But it was a quick 3/4 mile return via the road.
After lunch, we did another short hike around Trail 7 in the Big Clifty Falls area. There was quite a crowd, but the trees were still beautiful.
I was a little disappointed not to make it down to the stream bed to hike, but that just means I need to return soon.