Monday, September 22, 2014

Little Rock City

Traveling the roads in the Kentucky, Tennessee and much of the American southeast, as a child I saw these huge signs covering the entire sides of the barns. They signs simply said "SEE ROCK CITY".  It is near Knoxville, Tennessee. Never got there, but I've found another one much nearer.  I have been to it around five times and always see something to fascinate me. And, it is free.

This one is called Little Rock City. It is near Salamanca, New York in the beautiful hills of western New York.  Located in the Rock City State Forest, you take US 219 north from NY 417 for 2.1 miles.  Turn west on Hungry Hollow Road for 4.0 miles.  Then at the sign, turn left on Little Rock City road for a final mile.

As we were packing up to leave on our last visit, a family arrived and the kids headed off to discover the site.  We were  hearing young voices saying "Oh, wow!" and laughing as they followed a thin crack in the rock hilltop that opened into a giant crevasse.   I so clearly remember having the amazement on my first visit.

When you arrive at the end of the road, there is an ample parking area plus picnic and sanitary facilities.  There are two routes into the rocks; I recommend the left route for the dramatic way the ground opens up.

The working theme for Little Rock City is BIG. The scale of the monoliths dwarfs people.

The geology of this creation is interesting.  The "recent" glacial period bulldozed valleys in western New York, sometimes leaving the cap rocks lining the valley.  Water evidently got under these thick cap rocks and removed their support, so that they broke away and gradually slid down the valley slope. (I'm no geologist, so I've probably missed some fine points of this process.)

The jumble of huge rocks creates a multitude of small (and sometimes larger) openings.  These attract the younger and even the older kids.

I'm writing this in late September with one major intent to alert people to a fine location to see the autumn colors among an amazing landscape. On a precious year, I was there when there was a bit of nice color.

The tops of these rocks are so large that small forests can become established quite apart from the surrounding forest. The trees seem to walk their way up to the top, and their roots crawl down to the richer water source.

The size of the features can so awe the visitor that the smaller aspects are missed.  I find the forms seen in the roots fascinating.

I've found the best days to visit are the cloudy days.  Misty days would be even better for the rich colors when it is damp.  Expect some wet spots.  There is a marked  trail that parallels the road.  This is a good way to begin, since it is possible to become a bit lost among the rocks.

So, my recommendation is to:   

See Little Rock City

You will love it.


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