October 30, 2011
This is a review of the Finger Rock, Athens, Rockhouse, and Trace trails. [This is a duplicate posting to the one that I posted for "Strouds Run" since those trails are on park property. Only the Athens, Rockhouse, Cucumber Tree, and Pawpaw trails leave the park. See that posting for pictures.] The trailhead of the Finger Rock trail is the very small parking lot on Strouds Run Road where the Thunderbunny trail ends. (Thunderbunny is across the road and runs north while Finger Rock is on the same side of the road as the parking lot and runs west.) Park there, which is at 39-21.160N and 082-02.897W then descend toward the creek where there is a wooden bridge that takes you to the Hickory trail. The Hickory trail splits left at the foundation of an old house and hugs the southern shore of Dow Lake. Instead, continue for a short distance until you see a small sign for the Finger Rock trail and start ascending. This trail ascends from 676 feet up to 1,076 feet where you'll eventually reach Finger Rock at 39-20.976N and 082-02.796W. This rock formation is a massive sandstone outcropping, in fact, the entire ridge is one enormous block of sandstone that outcrops in different areas to form Rockhouse and Boulder Cave. Once you've stood on Finger Rock and looked down over Dow Lake, turn away from the lake and head west up the next outcropping. You'll have to push your bike up this rock because the rock is actually part of the trail and there's no way around it. At the top you'll see that the trail runs along the crest of a ridge, meets up with the Athens trail, which is also along the ridge, and eventually reaches a height of 1,214 feet. When dry, this section of the trail is very straight and fast. Continue west until you see an evident sign on the left for White Oak Connector - Rockhouse Trail. At this point it's an easy descent down a gradual slope until you reach the Rockhouse formation at 900 feet. From this point and out around the entire southern edge of the ridge the elevation doesn't change much so it's a fast ride along the base of several outcroppings. Eventually you'll bypass the Crumley Ridge trail (that ascends to the crest of the ridge) , Boulder Cave at 39-20.593N and 082-03.919W, will cross the Rockhouse Trail - Cucumber Tree Run bridge, and ascend either to the left or right back up to 1,214 feet and reach the main Athens trail. Turn right (east) and start heading back. You'll eventually find the Trace trail that branches left and has a very easy descent down the side of the hill, past the Pioneer Cemetery at 39-20.966N and 082-03.195W, and back to the Hickory trail that you'll take back across the bridge and back to the parking lot. The creek under the bridge is a good place to wash your tires. Of all of the trails in Strouds Run State Park, this is, by far, my favorite!
The trail is similar to Lake Hope but the area is like the Cantwell Cliffs and Conkle's Hollow reegions of the Hocking Hills.