“This is a mixed-surface trail winding through the hardwood lowlands of LBL.
— Ranger Danger
Backcountry permits required for overnights (pretty relaxed, they only ask you that you camp 50' off the trail) and are free at the visitors centers.
This is the southern half of the longer North/South Trail. This section is a mixed bag of some mildly challenging singletrack (most of the challenge due to roots and mud during wet season) and pull your hair out boring roadbeds, including some paved sections. But through it all, there is wonder to this trail. The depth of the woods and the solitude is rarely experienced. This is a very long trail and most will use it to make smaller loops, or as part of a longer backpacking excursion.
This USFS trail is incredibly well marked with white blazes. Start your journey at Golden Pond Welcome Center, from here you'll be on some nice dirt and roots singletrack, when you cross the Wranglers Trail you join up with the first of the FS roads. This is the first of several opportunities to make a loop, or drop supplies for a multi-day loop. This and the next section are also shared by horses and the occasional mountain biker.
At approximately four miles in you'll see Colson Spring, this is the second of spring opportunities on the trail, the next intersection (Laura Furnace) provides shelter and another spring to draw water from in season.
At approximately ten miles in you'll see the intersection for the road to Cedar Pond which is another great drop point for supplies. Continuing three miles or so south you'll come upon the Prospectors Place Spring, and not very long after the intersection of FS 205. If you make a side diversion here and head east, you may have the opportunity to see the Bison (roughly a mile) and the Homeplace (which also has water available during the summer).
Continuing south to Iron Mountain shelter is another two miles under foot, but that also marks the point where the terrain really flattens out. This is the point where you really need to make sure you have water to carry you through as there is really none to be had for the next ten miles or so. FS 221 (about three miles from Iron Mountain) is another good drop point.
From FS 221 south there is literally nothing between you and nature. This is the most isolated section of the trail, with no major crossings between here and the South Welcome Center. The seven miles seems to go by in a hurry as the ground is fairly level and flat, though with the light use comes some trail maintenance issues from time to time.
Ticks in summer!