Middle Ridge Loop
Distance (round trip): 6.4 miles
Elevation Gain (round trip): 1600 feet
Description: On this moderately strenuous hike, you'll get a chance to visit the monument, Frog Lake, and the Little Fork of Coyote Creek (twice), and you'll get to walk a fine stretch of trail on the top of Middle Ridge. Along the Middle Ridge Trail, you'll be shaded by huge Manzanita shrubs that have grown to treelike proportions. In early spring, under their boughs, you'll find crimson blankets of Indian Warriors, plants whose roots attach to Manzanita roots and steal some of their nutrients. According to legend, patches of Indian Warriors grow in places where brave warriors were slain in battle. Another highlight of this hike is the Little Fork crossing on Fish Trail. It's a cool, cozy, friendly place that will tempt you to linger. You might as well give in and stay a while. If the day is warm, you may want to take off your shoes and refresh your feet in the cool water. The hike back up to the top of Pine Ridge has some short steep sections, but the elevation gain is fairly spread out, and you'll probably have plenty of energy to enjoy the views as you hike back to park headquarters.
Route: Start at the Manzanita Point Road, hike uphill a few hundred feet, and turn left on Monument Trail. When you come to a trail junction, go straight and follow the trail till it ends at Hobbs Road. Turn left and follow the road. After about a mile of downhill hiking (with several pretty steep sections), you'll reach the Little Fork of Coyote Creek. Cross the creek, turn right on the trail, and follow it to Frog Lake. Continue on the trail up to the trail junction on top of Middle Ridge. Turn right and follow the Middle Ridge Trail (for about a mile and a half) until you get to the next trail junction. Turn right on Fish Trail and follow it down to the Little Fork and back up to the top of Pine Ridge. Cross the road, take the short spur trail to a trail junction, turn right, and follow Corral Trail back to park headquarters.
Option1: Counterclockwise Trip. If you prefer steep uphill hiking to downhill hiking, and you're in the mood for a strenuous workout, you can make this a counterclockwise trip, hiking to the top of Middle Ridge on Fish Trail and returning to headquarters on Hobbs Road. Be forewarned that you'll encounter two very steep uphill stretches, first the section of Fish Trail between the Little Fork and the top of Middle Ridge and then the steep road from Frog Lake up to the Monument.
Option2: Flat Frog and Fish Trails. You can lengthen this trip (from 6.4 to 7.8 miles) and reduce the elevation gain (from 1,600 to 1,260 feet) by substituting Flat Frog Trail for Hobbs Road. If you decide on this option, your next decision is whether to take the clockwise route (Flat Frog / Middle Ridge / Fish Trail) or the counterclockwise route (Fish Trail / Middle Ridge / Flat Frog). Both routes have their fans and both have strenuous uphill stretches. The clockwise route has less grueling uphill treks, but some of its elevation gain is towards the end of the hike. The counterclockwise route has some heart-pounding climbs, but after you arrive at the Frog Lake Trail junction on Middle Ridge (at about the halfway point), the rest of the trip is almost all downhill or level. We recommend that you do the trip both ways as often as you can. Either way you chose, you'll begin and end your hike on Corral Trail.