Monday, May 17, 2010

Balanced Rock, Trough Creek State Park

Balanced Rock, Trough Creek State Park
Near the headwaters of Raystown Lake, nestled within the scenic Great Trough Creek gorge, is Trough Creek State Park. The state park is a hidden gem that few realize exists, but within it are a number of natural formations that have been caused by years of erosion.

On one hot and humid day, as Mike and I set out to do some geocaching, we had our eyes set upon Trough Creek and the caches there. What I received was more than a handful of caches; what I received was a wonderful outing within this secretive locale.

The one thing I really wanted to see was the Balanced Rock. I could remember as a kid reading about it and I had pretty much forgotten about its existence until earlier this year. Going through a number of geocaches within the region, I stumbled upon this Earthcache and knew I had to go see this natural formation.

First view of Balanced Rock from the park's roadway

Balanced Rock is perched atop a cliff that overlooks the Great Trough Creek. It immediately appears that it could easily slide off the side of the cliff with the slightest of touch, but it has held the same position for thousands of years and will continue to remain there until nature erodes enough of the land under the rock to send it into the creek below. The Balanced Rock is made up of a harder type of rock that did not erode like the rock surrounding it and as the mountain eroded away Balanced Rock remained.

Despite the heat and humidity, Mike and I set out one Friday afternoon to hike up to the Balanced Rock. The coolness of the shade and the slighter lower temperatures within the gorge did little to lower the overall "ickiness" that the humidity and oncoming thunderstorms were creating.

Crossing the suspension bridge over the Great Trough Creek, I managed to get to the other side, though it was a slow-going process; the bridge bounced with each step I took. Having a fear of heights, the bridge's bouncing did little to calm those fears as I cautiously made my way across step by ever slow step. What took me minutes, Mike crossed in seconds and we were soon on our way along the mountainside, on a narrow path with a steep drop-off on the creekside.

Rainbow Falls on Abbot Run

About halfway from the bridge to the rock, the path crosses Abbot Run, a small stream with a number of cascading waterfalls. The trail crosses just below Rainbow Falls, a beautiful series of falls that immediately bring cameras out to capture images of the natural wonder.

Upon crossing Abbott Run, the trail goes up the side of the mountain, following Abbott Run for a slight distance before doubling back to go to the top of the ridge. The steps are stone steps set into the side of the mountain, and though not that bad going up, the uneven steps make for an exciting trip back down the side of the mountain.

We finally arrived at the top of the mountain and the trip to the top was definitely worth it; there on the side of the cliff was the huge boulder that appeared ready to slide off the edge at any moment. Mike and I both did the same thing as we gave it a slight push; it didn't move for either of us. I could only marvel at the natural wonder and I realized that such a site, so close to my home, should have been explored years ago. Though one day it will fall from its perch (though it will be millions of years from now) it is present now for people to visit and explore.

The view of the area was awesome and I took lots of photos of the rock and the gorge it overlooks before descending once again into the gorge, leaving it to its solitude.

On the way down, we passed two families with kids on their way up to the Balanced Rock. "How is it?" one of the fathers asked. "Well worth it," I replied and it truly was worth the trip.

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