Hiking | Lover’s Leap

It has been a few years since I hiked Lover’s Leap, and on a free morning last week we managed to get out there for a beautiful quick hike in our beautiful autumn weather. I love short hikes with some good hill climbing, and Lover’s Leap fits the bill. It is an easy to moderate 4.4 mile loop, best hiked clockwise, with a steady uphill climb for the first mile and a half, and then a gentle downhill or level trail for the rest of the hike.  The trail name refers to legend of two Native American lovers who were fleeing from the United States Cavalry and jumped to their deaths from what we now know as Lover’s Leap. IMG_3265elovers leap trail mapThe trailhead is located near the Game Lodge in Custer State Park. After about a half mile, maybe less, the trail splits. We took the left hand trail and hiked it clockwise. The trail features diversity of landscape, with beautifully maintained ponderosa pine forest, sweeping views of the Hills glimpsed between the trees, colorful hardwoods along the creek in the lower elevations of the hike, and of course the glorious views from the top of Lover’s Leap. IMG_3272eIMG_3311eIMG_3309eIMG_3294eIMG_3292eIMG_3285eA good part of this area was also burned during the Legion Lake Fire, adding to the diversity of the sights. Stark black tree trunks give evidence to the ferocity of the fire in those areas. Although it may look ugly now, as the trees either naturally fall or are felled over the next years, and the grass and plant life returns, those areas will be transformed and beautiful. IMG_3270eA sign at the base of the short scramble to the top of Lover’s Leap reads:

Custer State Park is a place where one can still be an unworried and unregimented individual and wear any old clothes and sit on a log and get his sanity back again.lover leap trail signNotice the scratch markings in the bottom left corner of the sign before the word “sanity.” That used to read “his.” What occurs to me as I read this sign with the word “his” scratched out is that whoever it was that defaced this sign clearly hadn’t taken advantage of sitting on a log and getting his–sorry, her (probably, right?) sanity back.
IMG_3324eThis is the kind of hike I hate to finish. The trail was so peaceful and beautiful, the sunlight filtering through the trees was magical, and the sense of autumn was glorious. Definitely a day for stomping through the woods and getting one’s sanity back again. I guess that’s one of the things I love about hiking. Cares of the world tumble away and cease to matter, and worries cease to plague me, the craziness of our current culture and politics and worldview battles disappear for a time, and a sense of perspective returns in the vastness and beauty of God’s creation, in the rhythm of footfall and breath.


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