Cantwell Cliffs

Entering into the Cantwell Cliffs area near Rockbridge, Ohio is one of my favorite destinations so far. Really picturesque with all the cliffs and rock formations throughout the trail. The trail can range from 1.8 to 3+ miles depending on how far you go and which way you go. For me this is another arrive early during the week hikes if you can, it tends to get crowded later in the day and sound really travels here.
The descent into the gorge is a sight to see, that’s for sure. I must have spent at least a half an hour just looking at the rock formations here.
The trails are marked really well and its fun to see how far you’ve walked, but keep in mind that the rim trail is not roped off in any way, one slip up here and your done for.
Trail Maps
I recommend going straight down into the Gorge and following the trail to the right to begin. There’s lots of opportunity’s to climb over rocks and explore lots of nooks and cranny’s, plus you get to see all of the falls from the bottom right away. The sheer size of it all really left me in awe.
Feeling like a little kid I hiked and crawled all over the place trying to capture unique images with my camera without killing myself and damaging any of my surroundings.
 This place is truly spectacular with all of the different shapes and colors that nature provides.
After making my way to the bottom of the gorge I opted to travel out further on the trail and see what was there. There’s a loop that goes out and back for about a mile and a half and returns you to the beginning of where you began. About half way out you have to transverse a small creek that has no bridges but there are a few fallen trees that could be used. After slipping in the mud and almost landing in the creek I decided to pull up a log and have a snack on the apple I brought for my trip.
Sitting there on my log enjoying the scenery I caught a glimpse of some other hikers coming up the trail, they didn’t know I was there, and I got to see how they were going to make the cross like I had tried. It’s funny, here I sit watching two couples as they looked for a safe passage while I kept saying to myself, “No, don’t go that way, go over there. Walk across that log”. Well, I guess they couldn’t here me talking to myself because before you know it one of the men was trying to through a log into the creek to make a bridge and as you can guess 3 of the 4 people ended up splashing down in the water. Laughing to myself I wondered if there was someone watching me as I tried, then ran off before I could see them.
As they rounded the corner, they saw me, sitting there on my log, with my apple, and they instantly knew I was watching them. Smiles on their faces they said hello as they passed me and you could hear them laughing off in the distance as they hiked away from me. I smiled and laughed to myself too… The things you see…A shared moment with strangers…Things that make you smile and laugh, no matter how small are the best.
Grabbing up my gear I continued on the trail heading back. The trails in this area were so smooth and inviting it was hard to explain the feeling, almost as though I was out west hiking the redwoods, but with smaller trees.
Once I made it back from my extended trail hike it was time to start going up. After hiking 2+ miles at this point I was beat and the going got rough. Having my backpack on with all my camera gear and water, minus the apple of course, it made it hard, (note to self, pack lighter next time).
Up…Up…I go
 All in all it was a great hike, I got to explore like a kid and had a few laughs as I went along. If your in the area put this hike on your to do list. Really was an awesome experience!

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