Little Cedar Lake
ElevationAscent: 582' 177 m
Descent: -578' -176 m
High: 702' 214 m
Low: 450' 137 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 13% (7°)
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“An interesting trail with a terrible-to-navigate west side.”— Robert Heins
I went counter-clockwise on this trail, turning left/south to go around the lake itself. The east side of the trail is well-cut and easy to navigate, offering little confusion or side tracks. You honestly can't get lost on this portion of the trail. The blazes are infrequent, but very clear.
The problem with this trail starts once you hit the south edge of the loop, getting down to the outlet of the lake itself. This portion has a bunch of muddy/swampy spots and extremely inadequate blazing. Be prepared to use and abuse your trekking poles in this portion to keep yourself out of the deepest mud as you balance on the few portions of dry ground/rocks/fallen branches present (this may change if you're going during a drier part of the year, however).
Once you get past the southern-most curve, your troubles will keep occurring, as the trail is just barely this side of impossible to find/keep found at this point (ESPECIALLY after fording the stream at the far south end). I finally resorted to just striking vaguely northward while following the lake edge until I found what I was pretty sure was the trail. Eventually, a blaze confirmed that for me, but... the trail on the entire west side is a nightmare of low spots, overgrown areas, poorly blazed trail, and what amounts to random guesswork to keep on the trail itself. I THINK I was on the trail itself, but that was just a best case guess on my part. Coming at this from the clockwise direction might be better, as it will allow you to follow the River to River Trail down this edge (possibly).
At the northern edge of this trail, you ARE going to need to cross the rocky spillway area, which will result in wet boots during any kind of wet season. Plan for this with some water shoes or alternative methods. The flow isn't terrible to go across, but it is deep enough to get inside all but the tallest of hiking boots.
After crossing the spillway, it's an easy run back up to the trail split and back out to the trailhead at Little Cedar Road.
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Photos, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes, History & Background
Land Manager: USFS - Shawnee National Forest Office
Nov 14, 2019: Shawnee National Forest Offers New Christmas Tree Permit