Recently our hiking group decided to take a second trail to Pivot Rock that the group as a whole hadn’t been on in a couple of years. Most of the current hikers don’t even know about this trail.

We took off from the Stage parking lot at 7:30 a.m. When we arrived at Forest Road 149, three more cars were waiting for us opposite the giant cinder pile, just off of Highway 87. Altogether, we had 18 hikers and at eight in the morning, it was already getting hot. Assembled and geared up, we crossed the road and went right, around the cinder pile, where we found a steel gate. Going around the gate, we headed north on the old Road 6304, following it as it went west. It was a pleasant hike, as we were in the shade under grown trees with a gentle breeze.

At the half-mile point, we headed left and went downhill into Pivot Rock Canyon through some massive and magnificent spruce and pine trees. In half a mile, we came to Wildcat Spring about 50 feet to the right of the trail. The spring is in a massive cement box, it was dry when we went, like so many other springs and streams were before the monsoon arrived. However, the ravine itself was fresh and green and a pleasure to walk through as we left the spring.

While the ravine was pretty, the lack of rain had prevented many of the usually abundant wildflowers from blooming.

We did enjoy the shade and greenery to a point at GPS coordinates 34 28.237N, 11 24.318W where the hiker has an option. Like the old folk song, you can take the high road or the low road, though neither will get you to Scotland. The forest road continues high, but not so high that you cannot see into the ravine. This day the group took the low road, a single track that meanders along the bottom of the ravine.

It was cool down there and afforded us views of plentiful fossil encrusted limestone, fractured into slanted levels over the millennia.

At one spot, a wonderful, mushroom-shaped rock formation came into view. We couldn’t help but climb up the back of it and pose at the top for pictures.

Soon the lower ravine trail rejoined the forest road and we came out to the 616 forest road. There, many of us couldn’t resist going through the streambed under the little bridge to the other side.

From there, we followed the ravine and the dry streambed about half a mile until we got to bedrock. We turned right, down into the streambed and crossed, looking for a path leading off to the right. It’s about 1/10 of a mile to Pivot Rock. There we had a snack and sent an intrepid hiker up the opposite hill to look at small caves in the hillside and report back. That hillside is covered with game trails and small caves filled with rodent droppings.

Something we’ve done before is continue on about half a mile to another spring, Pivot Rock Spring, flowing out of the hillside in a massive cut-out of the bedrock. That spring was still flowing despite the drought. From there, we returned the way we came in.

Overall, it’s a six-mile hike, seven if you visit the second spring. The last mile is a gentle uphill that you don’t really notice as you were going downhill on the way in.

We were back at the cars a little after 11 in the morning. We were glad. The breeze had died down and it was getting hot.

If you’re looking for a nice hike to take visitors on, this is one of my favorites.

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