I was pumped. The Otter Hole to Carris Hill loop was one of my favorite hikes from last summer, and despite the blistering heat, I was excited for the challenges ahead! The 4 mile hike takes you past creeks, rock slab summits, waterfalls, rock scrambles, and dense forest. The difficulty and beauty of the Norvin Green State Forrest captured a piece of my heart last summer, which is why I couldn’t wait to get back here.
Otter Hole is our first stop on the Norvin Green tour – just a few minutes from the trailhead. The Posts Brook crosses the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail through large boulders that you need to hop-skotch your way across to continue on the trail. It hadn’t rained in over a week so the water level was pretty low, and the crossing easy.
I left the Otter Hole trail and followed the blue blazes further into the woods where the Hewitt-Butler joins the teal diamond blazes of the Highlands Trail. Despite having done this hike a year ago, it managed to play the same tricks on me it did last time. The trail climbs a bit, then starts downhill, which is nice, until you remember that your last mile of this loop is going to be heading back up this decent.
After crossing Posts Brook again, this time on a fallen log bridge, I kept on the blue blazes towards Carris Hill. (Most descriptions of this hike suggest you take the white trail towards the top of Chikahoki Falls, but I prefer to hike the loop the other direction.) After an exhausting climb up a steep section of rocky terrain you’ll come to the first of several false summits (I call them false summits only because I continuously think I’m at the top when I’m really not.)
After several rock slab summits, I reached Carris Hill – which is ironically named given the climb to get there. As I head back into the woods I’m greeted by an amazing rock wall that I’m surprised wasn’t filled with rock climbers – I really need to find someone local to take me bouldering (any takers?)
We’re now on the yellow blazed Carris Hill trail heading down towards the white blazed Posts Brook trail (the one I mentioned above that most other descriptions suggest). When you get to the end of the yellow trail you’ll get lost; look for the sign that points you back towards Otter Hole Parking (marked as OH PRKG).
Coming from this direction you’ll follow along the brook until you get to Chikahoki Falls- which are as fun to look at as saying the name out loud. Again, due to the lack of rain, they weren’t flowing as much as last year, or as I’ve seen in other hiker’s pictures, but they’re cool all the same.
Once you’ve taken your selfies, climb the white trail up the side of the falls and continue on until you meet up with the blue blazes once again. This will take you back up hill to the Otter Hole and where you parked your car.
You can find the Norvin Green State Forest South Trail Map here – as you can see this hike only covers a tiny section of the Southern portion of the park – I’m really hoping to explore more of the trails before fall.