17 of 40: indian creek

After our hike at Hemmed-In Hollow we went to the trail head of  the Goat Bluff trail since it was nearby. We didn't want to hike it that day, but we were considering it for our last hike the next day and wanted to scope out the territory. We happened to chat with a couple just ending their hike and got the scoop on the trail. The wife loved the views, whereas the husband didn't even go out on the bluff because of the heights. We didn't have complete peace about this hike because of the heights and knowing Ella wouldn't be completely blessed by that fact.

The wife then mentioned the best hike she's ever taken on Indian Creek the day before. Now Indian Creek had been a trail we researched, but it's not a maintained trail and there are no maps. When reading online hikers simply write "follow the creek." Since we have children "follow the creek" could mean a lot of things. This lady, though, mentioned that there was a trail along the creek, but at times you had to cross the water. She said the further you hiked in the more water and rapids you would see and that it was amazing. Well, firsthand accounts are worth something, aren't they? We decided to hike the no-map, follow-the-water Indian Creek trail the next day. We were not disappointed.

The trail head is only reached by first hiking a short distance on the Kyle's Landing to Steel Creek trail. Once you see the Indian Creek wooden post you head that direction. That was the ONLY marker for the trail. 

For much of the initial trail we hiked on the rocky creek bed that at this time was dry. For good portions we were on the trail beside the creek, but many times Jesse was leading us on rocks where the creek was flowing. We only walked through the creek with the children if it was a trickle. This wasn't a wade-in-the-water adventure. Jesse did amazing finding the actual trail or deciding what route in the creek itself was best (and safe). The kids did great following instructions and enjoying the process. 

About 1 1/2 miles was the first time we saw other hikers on the trail and they were on the return trip. Their observations were encouraging because so far we hadn't seen much water but they explained it increased as you hiked in and that there were two large waterfalls at the end of the trail. They also said that there was one point on the trail quite dangerous and narrow. Well, we knew all along that there could possibly be a point of no return for us, so that bluff might be it. We kept going and did come to this spot. We did not walk the trail where basically there was no trail, but were able to maneuver over the sides of the creek on rock, kind of hugging the rocks. I never felt unsafe. The key was going slow, staying together, making wise choices. (There are no pictures of that spot as we were focused on safety, obviously!) The best was yet to come, so I'm glad we figured out that area. 

waterfall from the cave

The largest final waterfalls were spectacular and I'm so thankful we made it that far! Also at the end is a rock called the Eye of the Needle because of the shape of the hole. I could catch barely a glimpse of it, but you have to climb via rope to actually get to it. Climbing via rope is not on our adventure list, so we didn't do that but didn't feel like we missed out. The water was where it was at!

final waterfall

Every hike is special in its own way. I couldn't have planned a better final hike for our trip than Indian Creek. We've never hiked such a trail and Jesse has never had to lead and make wise decisions in the natural environment in such a way for us. The trail was 5 miles round trip, but it took us a good five hours to complete. We really tried to enjoy the views, the process and take the time to be safe so that the adventure would have good, sweet memories and it does. Most of the hiking was peaceful (not many people are out in the Ponca Wilderness), quiet, beautiful to view. This was a challenging trail that required a lot of thinking and evaluating, yet it's one of the trails I most enjoyed from our trip. 

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