This past week as part of our Mammoth Hike 40 Challenge Bill and I walked the Gibraltar Rock segment that took us up to the overlook. After not having been there since February due to the pandemic it felt like a homecoming.
The parking area had not yet opened on the day we hiked so we parked at the Slack Road trailhead and did a short road walk to get to the trailhead on Gibraltar Rock Road. (The parking lot is open now, or at least it was as I write this.) As we set off on the trail we didn’t know what we would encounter, since our Lodi Valley Chapter volunteers have not been able to do any trail maintenance on this segment during this time of COVID-19. We were pleased to find that the trail was in good shape and not much brush had grown in to cover the path. There were three small trees that had fallen across the trail and we were able to step over them easily. What we didn’t encounter was people; I can honestly say that this was the first time I’ve hiked this segment and not run into another person!
Gibraltar Rock is sometimes referred to as one of the gems of the Ice Age Trail. As we walked I was reminded of the many reasons this segment is so special. Of course, the view from the top of the rock is always breathtaking and today we could see the fall colors as we looked out upon the landscape. But the walk to the top also has its treasures, including the stunning stone steps that were built by volunteers in order to help prevent erosion and create a safer and more enjoyable hiking experience. Traversing the wooden bridges brought back memories of being part of the volunteer crew that carried those huge logs over a great distance in order to install them spanning the ravine. (I’m still amazed and impressed by that feat!) And then there’s the beautiful way that sunlight comes through the leaves of the towering trees and creates ever-changing shadowy patterns.
It’s great to return to a trail that you haven’t visited for a while, especially when you can enjoy the peace that comes with having the trail to yourself. One more memorable hiking experience….Along the Ice Age Trail.