Blind Hollow to Wood Camp, 8 October, 2020
It had been a while since I hiked this route, so I invited Dave P. to join me. This was a good time, since the weather was favorable and the hordes of deer hunters should not arrive for another week. It was elk hunting season, however, so we wore appropriate clothing for safety.
Jane dropped us off at Blind Hollow about 8:40 a.m. and we "hit the trail" for a pleasant hike up Blind Hollow. The trail was clear of fallen logs and brush and we saw several dusky grouse, and we saw evidence of recent beaver activity although there was only a trickle of water in the creek. At 3.7 miles we kept on the Blind Hollow Trail, a Forest Service "system" trail (009), to the Cottonwood Canyon ridge and the Wilderness boundary, while it looked like most trail users followed the unofficial social trail (or "user trail") that continues up Blind Hollow for a couple of hundred yards before turning west. There were no trail signs for the entire distance of Blind Hollow - nothing at the trailhead, no sign on the post at the Hansen Pond trail (063), no sign at the Wilderness boundary and no sign at the important junction with the Mt Naomi Peak NRT (005).
Shortly after descending into Cottonwood Canyon on the Mt Naomi Peak NRT we noted another the well-traveled social trail that runs south from the Smithfield Canyon trail junction, parallel to and downhill to the Mt Naomi Peak NRT. We also encountered some very large trees across the trail. We ate lunch at Cottonwood Spring, but it was completely dry and the water trough was badly damaged.
After Cottonwood Springs we turned southeast on the Cottonwood Trail (048) and were pleased to see evidence of recent foot traffic and recent (although minimal) trail maintenance. 2.5 miles later we came to a junction with the unauthorized social trail that runs up Cottonwood Canyon from US-89. We stayed on the system trail, heading south toward Wood Camp, but it looks like most trail users went down (or came up) the social trail. In fact, we might have gone the wrong way if we had been inattentive.
We finally got to the Old Juniper Trail (014) and the first trail sign of the day at 4:20 p.m., 9.8 miles from our start. The sign announced the Wilderness boundary (it was facing away from our direction of travel, of course). As we hiked down the trail we encountered several hikers and (illegal on this non-motorized trail) e-bike riders, the first people we have seen all day. About 4:45 p.m. we arrived at the Wood Camp trailhead and our vehicle after 13 miles on the trail and a climb of 2900 feet and descents totaling 3300 feet.
Note: This hike description is more detailed than usual in order to serve as a reference
Thanks to Dave W. for the narrative, photos and GPS data and Dave P. for photos.