Pine Tree Lollipop Hike Route Map

DuPont State Forest - Pine Tree Lollipop

Every so often there's a hike I complete that I really don't have much to say about.  It doesn't necessarily mean it was a bad  hike but, rather, that it was just unremarkable.  This route, along what I'm calling the Pine Tree Lollipop, involves just such a hike.  It starts in the woods, stays in the woods, doesn't climb or descend much, and doesn't pass so much as one major stream.  Not exactly a great endorsement, huh?  Well...there are still some definite upsides to this very vanilla hike.  First off, it's fairly easy and family friendly...elevation changes are minor and the path is mostly wide and well-travelled.  Secondly, because it lacks the waterfalls or mountain views of other nearby trails, this hike is also relatively quiet...which anyone who has visited DuPont State Forest knows, is a rare treat indeed.

Starting out from the busy Corn Mill Shoals Access parking lot the route begins directly across Cascade Lake Road via the Corn Mill Shoals Trail.  Passing a metal gate you'll quickly arrive at the junction with the Longside Trail coming in from the north.  Turn onto the Longside and the route climbs a bit and then flattens as the trail cuts along the west side of Cedar Rock.  In less than a quarter-mile you'll pass by the Twixt Trail on the left, at which point the trail gets noticeably rockier than its been.  Especially the point where it has you scramble up a steep 10-foot-high rock outcrop.  After the climb the trail levels off again, before making a short descent into a flat drainage populated by tall pines.  At the 3/4-mile mark the Pine Tree Trail is reached and the loop portion of the hike begins.  Bearing left on the Pine Tree Trail the white pine forest is immediately stunning.  It doesn't last long, though, as soon the path brings you out alongside Cascade Lake Road, veers right up an open slope and then has you cross Staton Road.  After the road the trail returns to the pines for another 0.15-mile before reaching a small pull-off alongside Staton Road beyond a couple large boulders.  

This is the least appealing part of the hike, as the next quarter-mile follows the shoulder of Staton Road.  The road-walk ends at the Sheep Mountain Trail which departs uphill on the left through a cable gate.  After a brief climb the trail descends to a wide, flat section where the Cascade Trail is first passed on the left and then, a few dozen yards later, the Pine Tree Trail breaks to the right.  This is the northern end of the Pine Tree Trail, which you'll now turn onto.  The route now begins a gradual descent as the trail makes a winding journey back to Staton Road, which it crosses 1/3-mile later.  After crossing the road (for the final time) the trail descends along a split rail fence and then passes over a small unnamed tributary before turning uphill again.  The mixed pine forest continues as the trail now winds its way south.  About a half mile from the last road crossing the most sustained uphill climb of the day begins, as the trail seeks to cross the adjacent ridge.  As you climb the forest turns to pure pine once again.  You'll top the ridge and then make a short, but moderately steep descent back to the Longside Trail junction and the start of the days loop.  Head straight onto the Longside Trail and retrace your steps from earlier the 3/4-mile back to Corn Mill Shoals Access. 

As I said earlier this is a nice hike, good for everyone, though not all that visually stimulating.  It was quiet though, which considering its proximity to the loop over neighboring Cedar Rock is somewhat miraculous.  If for no other reason this hike gets a thumbs up from me.  So, without further ado, it's my pleasure to share with you my hike of the Pine Tree Lollipop at DuPont State Forest.  As always, I hope you ENJOY!!

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  35.172781, -82.638902

Route Type:  Lollipop                  Difficulty:  MODERATE  (Petzoldt Rating:  4.80 )

Hike Length:  4.1 miles                Hike Duration:  1:30

Trailhead Temp:  50'F                 Trail Traffic:  5-10 people

Min. Elevation:  2,630'                  Max. Elevation:  2,860'

Total Vertical Gain:  350'             Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  85'

Trails Used (blaze color):  Corn Mill Shoals (unblazed), Longside (unblazed), Pine Tree (unblazed), Sheep Mountain (unblazed)


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