Hardscrabble Mountain Road
We'd had a fun-filled and scenic three days camping and wheeling around Sylvan Lake State Park, and we had one more trail we really wanted to do. Eagle-Thomasville Road was a familiar one, and we did Red Table Mountain as a parallel trail south of Sylvan Lake already. Hardscrabble Mountain Road was the parallel trail to the north of the lake, and we were looking forward to completing the side roads. Combined, they are 33.5 miles of trails just to the west of the easy Eagle-Thomasville Road, and we enjoyed them to the very end.
We'd been driving by the trailhead all weekend, so we found it easily enough. It cut uphill, went around a few curves, and then started heading south. It seemed like it was going to be mellow at first, but then it went through a lot of switchbacks. One of the switchbacks provided some pretty amazing views of the scenery around us.
The club camera had finally given up on us, so we were stuck with cell phones. To top that off, the light was fading. We didn't get a lot of pictures, and the ones we got were pretty dark in the fading light. Still, we enjoyed our trip and did most of it before it was completely dark.
We found a kiosk at one of the side trails we wouldn't have time for, and then passed another trail on a series of sweeping switchbacks. We'd need to come back another time to do them. We had also found many good campsites over the course of the weekend, but the ones on this trail were good. They were remote enough to not be too crowded, but the road was easy and wide enough to allow for towing. It could really work for us in the future.
Once we got to Hardscrabble Mountain, the trail started heading downhill. The trail was largely smooth, so we cruised quietly and smoothly along. We saw deer come out before the sun was down, and it was all very scenic.
We had some nice views of Sylvan Lake and our campground before it was dark, and it was interesting to note that we still had a bit of time and distance before we'd actually be at the lake, even though it was right below us. When we passed the end of the Red Table Mountain trail, it was completely dark. That meant darkness when we got back to camp, but it didn't take long to get the campfire and dinner going.
It was really a great trip. Matt left first thing in the morning, and Walt packed up to leave soon after (he had been there an extra night). Monica stayed another day to kayak on the lake and enjoy the space just a bit longer. We would definitely camp there again. It was a fantastic weekend.