ElevationAscent: 155' 47 m
Descent: -211' -64 m
High: 773' 236 m
Low: 620' 189 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 31% (17°)
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“Difficult, scenic trail traversing rugged Pearl Ravine and passing Sugar Creek, Maidenhair Falls, and Steamboat Rock.”— Michael Kontos
Trail may be impassible during periods of high water.
The trail first heads into a small valley with a bridge before climbing a flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs, you'll have the decision to take the loop clockwise or counterclockwise. If you go clockwise, you'll head down the massive staircase at Steamboat Rock, but you'll have to make the long and difficult run up Pearl Ravine. For this description, we will be going counterclockwise, which I prefer.
Turning right at the T, the trail will stay mostly high up and flat until around the 0.6 mile mark. At this point, the trail will descend a steep hill into the Pearl Ravine valley. The trail will now follow the bottom of the ravine until it empties into Sugar Creek. Pearl Ravine has many boulders and downed trees to maneuver, and the rock surface is often very slick. About halfway down, you'll pass Maidenhair Falls, a waterfall about ten feet tall next to a sandstone bluff with a staircase. Keep in mind that this ravine might not have any water running through it, or it could have a lot. Pay attention to the weather the day before you head out on this trail.
Upon arriving at Sugar Creek, you'll have a peaceful area to rest and enjoy the scenery before ascending the stairs at Steamboat Rock. I have seen people fishing here but I am not sure if it is technically allowed. The stairs at Steamboat Rock should not be underestimated. They are long and very steep. There are a few places to stop and rest on the way up or down, however. The stairs are deceiving because once you think they might be done, they keep going. There is a view of Sugar Creek from the bluff at the top. Be careful in this area due to the cliffs. Return to the T and turn right, and retrace the connector trail back to the parking lot.
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Land Manager: IN DNR - Shades State Park