“Circle through an active logging area with 360-degree views of Lincoln National Forest.”
— Brendan Ross
Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The Grindstone Lake trail system is popular among hikers, runners, bikers, and the occasional horseback rider, particularly in the summer months. Use caution when sharing the trail with other users.
Grindstone Mesa Loop can be accessed at two points. The northern intersection meets the top of Alfred Hale Connector
and is marked by a sign. Taking the trail in a counterclockwise direction, it begins as an easy, flat, dirt singletrack. In contrast to other trails in the Grindstone Lake area, this northern section of the Mesa Loop is much more open, crossing large clearings with trees spaced further apart.
Numerous signs remind trail users that they are in an active logging area, and the trail crosses dirt access roads at a few points. This, combined with occasional heavy pine needle cover underfoot, can make the path hard to find at times. Look for pink markers tied to trees and saplings to help mark the way. Don't confuse them for the lines spray painted across trunks, however, as these are markings for the loggers.
Occasional pathfinding issues aside, the Mesa Loop is an easy run. A road crossing at the hairpin near the one mile point offers an opportunity to take a shortcut, if desired. Not long after - at the mile and two thirds point, if taking the full length - the path begins its short challenging section. Here, the trail becomes moderately rocky and technical, especially by Grindstone trail standards. It lasts for about a quarter mile before returning to smooth singletrack. Look out towards the western valley passing through this area, where circling hawks can often be spotted. As the trail continues to the southeast, it leaves behind the clearings of its first portion for more wooded areas.
The intersection with the Grindstone Ridge Connector
is found just before the two and a half mile point, marked by a sign and a huge rock cairn. Continuing to the north, the trail stays about the same as it was before passing the connector. Mesa Loop finishes as a wide circle around the upper edge of Grindstone Canyon. Occasional glimpses to the lake can be had through the trees. After a mile, the loop closes back at Alfred Hale Connector