I had a brief moment of insanity last night thinking that it would be a good idea to leave my house at 10:30 PM, drive 45 minutes to Elmore State Park, and hike over 2 miles up to a fire tower, all to have the slim chance of possibly seeing some northern lights. Then I did the math and realized I wouldn’t be home until 4 AM at the earliest, and that nixed that idea. But it was still a good idea to hike Elmore in the daylight today.
We got there after lunch and wore our snowshoes since the high would be in the 50s and it was very sunny – even packed down snow could get soft in those conditions. After at least .6 mile hiking in on the road from the winter parking lot, we made it to the trailhead and started up the Fire Tower Trail. The trail still followed an old woods road for a while, so it was an easy hike to get started. We were sort of planning a loop hike, but could see when we passed the Ridge Trail junction (where we planned to come out later) that no one had been that way in quite a while.
Eventually, the trail turned to start going uphill at a steeper grade and the denser trees dripped on us as their ice melted in the sun. We made it to the old cabin clearing and enjoyed some views of Lake Elmore before finishing the climb to the summit of Elmore Mountain at 2608′.
We had the fire tower to ourselves, and although it was a bit windy up there, it wasn’t too cold. When some other folks arrived, we headed back down for a snack and to check out how far the Ridge Trail was packed out from the summit. I figured it would at least be packed out the half mile to Balancing Rock, but it didn’t go far at all before the people making the snowshoes tracks lost the trail and turned back.
We looked around for a bit and were able to find the trail so we kept going, but continued to lose it here and there. At one point, we checked GPS because it didn’t seem to go in any direction that made sense. But when we pushed through some low trees on what looked like a very steep slope, we found the trail again. The snow was very wet and heavy on our snowshoes as we took turns breaking trail.
We couldn’t see the base of Balancing Rock with all the snow so it didn’t look quite as impressive as it had before. From there, the trail started descending off the ridgeline and we were able to find the trail much more easily amongst the taller trees.
It still took quite a bit longer than we planned to break trail back to the junction with the Fire Tower Trail near the trailhead. I was getting hungry since it was dinnertime so I was eager to get back to the car.
The hike was probably 6 miles with the added walking from the winter lot and the added wandering around searching for trail. Another beautiful bluebird hike!