Clark Creek New Year’s Day Hike: A Family Tradition of Adventure and Exploration
In October 2013, my life changed forever with the arrival of my first child, Annabelle. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, I was eager to introduce her to the wonders of nature. Nature has always been my sanctuary, providing mental clarity during challenging times. Shortly after Annabelle’s birth, I embarked on a new adventure, one that would become a cherished family tradition – the Clark Creek New Year’s Day Hike.
Annabelle’s very first hike took place when she was just two months old, and it happened to be on New Year’s Day. Strapped securely to my chest, she joined me on the Clark Creek Waterfall Trail. Little did I know that this experience would become the foundation of a yearly tradition that would shape our family’s love for the outdoors.
Clark Creek, with its steep ravines, has always presented us with a challenging terrain. In our early years of hiking as a family, we would stick to the improved trail that led us to the first waterfall. Here, we’d spend our day splashing in the stream bed, which gracefully meandered from the first to the second waterfall. But as the years went by, we found ourselves drawn further, exploring the creek bed to reach the second and third waterfalls.
Our family grew with the addition of our second and third children, Skye and Willow, our beloved pups. They are just as enthusiastic about splashing through the creek as we are. When we reach the second waterfall, we descend using the well-maintained steps to the boulder bed at its base. This picturesque spot serves as the perfect place for lunch and building cairns. Sometimes, when we hike with friends who are new to the trail, they choose to camp and relax at Waterfall 2 while we continue on to the third waterfall, promising to loop back for them on our way out. The area also offers excellent trees for hammocking, providing a tranquil place to unwind.
For those adventurers who decide to hike on to the third waterfall, a unique challenge awaits. As you walk the creek bed surrounded by tall, moss-covered ridges, you may be lulled into a false sense of ease. The challenge becomes apparent as you approach a sharp split in the creek. The third waterfall lies to the left, hidden beyond large boulders and fallen trees that require navigation. However, the reward at the end is a remarkable swimming hole that’s worth the effort.
When Annabelle was six years old, we had a close call while navigating the wet boulders that led to the pool. She got her foot wedged between two boulders, and I fell to my hip while trying to help her. Fortunately, she remained calm, and I managed to free her foot with only a sizable bruise on my hip to show for it. Annabelle has since become a passionate advocate for hiking poles. On our most recent hike, her dad forgot to pack them, and she seized every opportunity to explain how hiking poles could have been beneficial during various situations. My advice: bring a set of trekking poles for everyone in the family, especially if you plan to venture beyond the first two waterfalls.
The Clark Creek New Year’s Day Hike has become a cherished family tradition that has brought us closer to nature and to each other. This beautiful natural sanctuary has allowed us to create lasting memories and has taught us valuable lessons about the importance of preparation and adventure. As we look forward to each New Year’s Day, we can’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to explore and appreciate the unspoiled beauty of Clark Creek.