Is the designation of a "Natural Area" forever? Or can it be rescinded like any other act of the government?
Back in the spring, googling around looking for Conservation Department areas near Hawn State Park, I came across mention of the the Lamotte Sandstone Barrens, which was a describe as an 80 acre section of Hawn State Park. There's no trail, but it look like it would be easy enough to find, since it's less than a mile from the park campground, and obviously located on the landscape. So around Memorial Day, while I was camped at the park, I set off to find it. Big mistake. Before I went more than a couple of hundred yards, I had ticks all over me, despite the fact that I was soaked in bug spray. So I turned around, went back to the campground, and stuck to trails for the rest of the trip. But, I promised myself, when it cools off, I'm going to find the Barrens.
A funny thing happened over the summer. The Barrens have started disappearing from the internet. They're still mentioned on the Department of Natural Resources web site, but when you follow the link to the Department of Conservation's website, you get the ever popular 404. If you dig around on the Conservation Department's website, you can eventually find what you're looking for. But you have to know what you're looking for in the first place.
Just before Thanksgiving, I had a chance to go back to Hawn to look for the Lamotte Sandstone Barrens. I was doubly intrigued, first by the thought of an out-of-the-way Natural Area, and second by the idea of a Natural Area that had fallen off the internet. The hike starts out cool from the get-go:
Big sandstone bluffs are feature of the hike. In addition to the ones above, there's another set father along the creek (see thumbnail), and another set beyond that. The route pass through a creek bottom, largely clear, with widely spaced pines.. This is where I turned back in May, covered in ticks.
It's a pretty section of the park. Open, and great for bushwhacking. Even though point is less than a quarter mile from the campground, there was no sign of recent human use. Lots of deer sign, however, both rubs and scrapes. I suspect deer like this valley. It's obvious they hunker up where the pines are thicker whenever the weather turns nasty.
Eventually I stumbled into a sign. This must be the place to start working uphill, into the Barrens!
The woods remained open. I still don't see anything particularly "barren" about these Barrens, since I think I'm in it at this point. It looks like the rest of Hawn, to be frank. Which is good, Hawn being the prettiest park in the state, but not especially special, for Hawn at least.
Eventually I worked uphill and around until I was near the top of a bluff. There were a couple of old fire rings there. Neither had been used in ages. One--the larger of the two, actually had a cedar growing up next to the sitting rock someone had placed next to the fire ring. This one actually had plants growing inside it.
It's easy to see why people would want to camp there. There's a great view across the valley:
In all, a very pleasant bushwhack. I worked my way back downhill to the creek, and the piddled around there for a while. Eventually I found an old road which took me back to the campground, and which back in the day probably served as the path to the Natural Area.