This has been one of our go-to hikes for my wife Linda and I, so we decided to share it with the ADK. The hike started at the parking lot at the end of the west branch of South Creek Road in Hamburg. This Erie County Park has gone from no parking (!) over the years to a freshly paved lot fit for a dozen tour buses.
We first hiked the rim trail, which starts downstream along the south rim of the North Branch of the creek. At a mile in, the creek joins the South Branch and heads west to the lake. Also here is a waterfall from another creek which adds to the confluence. There was no water today, and we crossed easily to head upstream along the South Branch. (This all makes more sense if you are looking at a map…).
The trail ends a mile further, but partway there we took a trail down to the creek and hiked along the creek itself. Mike Radomski described the different trees and foliage, and although I had earlier been tempted to make stuff up about the geology of the area I actually did some research about the Turtle Rocks – weird inclusions in the shale cliffs that appear alien in origin (and either look like flying saucers or turtle shells depending on where they are).
The day was warming by the time we got in the Grotto – see the new “Secret Places” book – it is at the bottom of the waterfall of the forementioned creek and is a favorite for ice climbers in winter. A 1969 Elvis tune came to mind by one of the group, but it was quickly dismissed. (A reminder to stay hydrated!).
We collected garbage, including a possibly rare and desirable bent Tonka toy, and finally headed back up a trail to the rim trail and the parking lot.
By the way, do you know how the 18 Mile Creek got its name? In an 1898 book of geology by Amadeus William Grabau it is said that the mouth of the creek is 18 miles from Black Rock, a settlement at the mouth of the Niagara River, and thence the name.
– Frank Meyer