Horse Pen trail
Old Kurt and Young Matthew just off the northern end of the Horse Pen trail, on the shore of Carvins Cove.
We'd never gone in to the Carvins Cove parking lot at the end of Timberview Road, the smallest and least-used of the three access points to the trail system. And when we stopped in at Just the Right Gear to get our hall pass for use of the reserve, we got detailed directions, info on the newly expanded parking lot and news that the city has stepped up patrols on making sure you do have the permit to go it.
This walk, a brand new loop for us, begins with an ascent – easy most of the way – to the ridge line of Brushy Mountain and its broad forest-road trail.
The other two hikers on this walk – The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All and 9-year-old grandson Matthew – both lobbied for stopping for lunch a bit before we'd gotten halfway. And their pleas got adamant when we came to the Barbecue Pit and its clearing, most of the way along the stretch of Brushy that we would cover before turning right onto The Gauntlet and back down the mountain.
This ill-advised decision – the Not-Greatest Day Hiker always advocates hard for getting at least half the hike done before lunch – was hardest on Matthew, who, on his longest hike ever, wore down just a little over the last mile or so. Though certainly not to the extent of real complaint or serious slow-down, determined hiker that he is.
At Carvins Cove Natural Reserve, The Trough, Bushy Mountain, The Gauntlet and Horse Pen trails. About 8 miles.
How to get there: Just west of Exit 141 from I-81 on 419, a right onto Dutch Oven and then another immediate right onto Timberview for about 3 miles to the parking lot.