Henry Fork and tributary, South Mountains State Park, 3/31/19
Photos from an exploratory hike with Christy and the dogs in South Mountains State Park. We parked near the gate east of Skull Knob and west oh High Knob. From there, we bushwhacked north down a ridge towards the Henry Fork. Before long we stumbled upon an old road that isn't shown on the map. We followed it briefly, before I tackled a nasty, steep bushwhack solo down to the river at about 2,240'. Years ago I heard a rumor that there is a small waterfall on the Henry Fork. I suspected that it would be at about 2,300'. I hiked upstream beyond that point, but found only minor cascades despite steep terrain on both sides of the river. I bushwhacked back up the ridge from about 2,320', which was a little better than my descent route. I rejoined Christy, and we followed the old road all the way to the Henry Fork's unnamed tributary a short distance upstream from its confluence with the main river. At one point on this stretch we spooked a herd of deer and a bunch of turkeys - at the same time! The dogs didn't know which way to run. The tributary is actually a slightly larger stream, and rock hopping was tricky at moderate water levels. After crossing, we stumbled upon an old rusty boiler. It is in the middle of nowhere, so I'm not sure what its purpose was. From there we hiked upstream to another spot that I thought might have a waterfall. We found bits of trail and old road along here, but this stretch was mostly bushwhacking. Luckily it wasn't too thick, and one side of the creek or the other always had gentle terrain. We found a small cascade and a pretty swimming hole at about 2,240'. Just upstream, starting at about 2,280', is a steep sliding waterfall with two sections totaling about 30'. It's a pretty spot, with a shallow pool and lots of open rocks downstream. The upper drop is about 15', and the shallow pool features a charming narrow band of orange rock.

After a long break we headed back downstream. This time we stayed higher up on the slope to avoid the thickest vegetation. There is a bit of a beaten path along here, but it was faint and hard to follow. After crossing a couple of minor ridges and gullies we headed up a fairly open ridge east of point 2,301'. This provided an easy route most of the way to the road along the top of the ridge. However, there must have been a recent fire on point 2,301', and it is now covered in small scraggly bushes, so the very end of our exit route was crappy. Once we reached the main road we enjoyed an easy stroll back to the car. It was a fun day exploring in the South Mountains!
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