The weather was going to be great for this trip and apparently everyone knew it because we had a long waiting list. So the 16 folks that make the trip, along with Kevin and I, had one of the most perfect days that we could have hiked the backbone trail.
I must say I was a bit concerned that the two waterways we cross would be a bit deeper and that there would be lots more mud. This trail is also used by horses so sometimes the mud can be really bad, especially after rain like we have had. When we arrived at the Caroline Dorman parking area, we dropped off all passengers to shuttle cars. If you are up for a little longer hike, you don’t have to shuttle cars. The backbone trail is 7.5 miles and the walk on the road back to the trailhead would be 2.5 miles. I prefer the walk the road back to my car but Kevin and his boys bring bicycles and cycle on the road.
In the middle of the trail there were still quite a few trees down from the wildfire but hikers have created paths around them. More than one person in our group commented on how challenging it would be for them to follow the trail because of the lack of markers. This trail is in the Red Dirt Wilderness, wilderness areas use minimal trail signage. I found the trail to be easy to follow (much easier than in the past) but then, I have traveled this trail many times. Just make sure you bring a map and compass if you travel it for the first time.
One of my favorite creeks to cross has a dead tree across it, acting as a natural bridge. So the options were to take your shoes and socks off to cross the creek, sit on the tree and scoot across it to the other side or walk on the tree as a tightrope. I opted for the tightrope cross, I love doing this and to my surprise 5 other hikers crossed it the same way without falling. Those that crossed got a huge round of applause, especially the one that stopped on the tree wavering before proceeding then wavered again. We were all holding our breaths in anticipation.
We had lunch on sandstone bluffs overlooking the forest, it was a beautiful view with minimal leaves obstructing our view. This is one of my favorite hikes in Louisiana and it seemed that this group left feeling the same way.
To see more photos from this trip, click here!
-Stacey Scarce, Trip Leader