Updated: Sep 18
If your kids like Minecraft, they'll love this short hike. Why? Because the .5 mile out and back trail leads to a historic feldspar quarry and is lined with shiny, sparkly rocks...or gemstones? Minerals? Crystals? I did take a geology class in college, but I am no geologist and will not attempt to categorize these stones. What's more important, is that my son Henry was excited about these treasures, and I'm guessing your kids will be too. Here are some of the rocks he found. The feldspar is the black one on the right.
I did do some post-hike research on feldspar and here is what I discovered:
According to the Mineral's Education Coalition, "Feldspar is the name given to a group of minerals distinguished by the presence of alumina and silica (SiO2) in their chemistry."
It is the most common mineral, comprising almost 60% of the Earth's crust.
Feldspar is an important raw material used to make ceramics and glass. It is also used to make dinnerware and bathroom tiles.
On a more spiritual note, it is the gemstone of creativity and believed to assist us in discovering new and insightful ways to achieve our goals. Bring on the feldspar.
I also did a bit of delving into the history of quarries. Aside from my own history of swimming in them, I did not have any information about their formation as it relates to mining. Side note, you would NOT want to swim in the quarry at Tryon Mountain. The water was not clean and clear as it can be in some other quarry's. The only one in my family who entered the water today (and drank from it) was our dog Romy. And I would not be at all surprised if she suffers some intestinal distress tonight (please god, no).
National Geographic offers some great info on quarries if you'd like all the details. I'll just give you the short and sweet summary:
A quarry is a place where rocks, sand, or minerals are extracted from the surface of Earth. This type of mine is called an "open-pit mine" because it's open to Earth's surface.
Quarries have been used for thousands of years, dating back to around 4,000 BC.
Quarries change their environment, displacing huge amounts of soil, plants and animals.
Abandoned quarries can fill with water, creating artificial lakes. Some of these lakes are clear and safe for swimming. Others contain toxic materials from mining and should be avoided.
Back to the trail. Here is the All Trails link for this very short hike, which takes an average of 29 minutes to complete. We took a bit longer, since we were looking at all the stones. If you would like a much longer hike, there is a trail connecting this one with Bradbury Mountain. You'll see the sign on the right as you head towards the quarry.
There is a parking lot off of Lawrence Road in Pownal, but you will need to cross the road to access the trailhead for this hike. Once you start, it's basically a straight shot all the way up to the quarry, which is at the very end of the trail. I would suggest using the All Trails GPS function to make sure you're officially at the end...since this is where our Seek'em is hidden.
You will pass one section of quarry and continue on to a larger body of water surrounded by much higher rock walls. If you walk all the way to the bottom, you will be able to access the water. Our Seek'em is hidden in the rock wall to the right, just before reaching the water's edge. Here's a picture of Henry hiding it.
You'll pass the summit on the way to the quarry. It's a whopping 390 feet in elevation and we saw no actual signs of it. Maybe we missed the cairn? Still, you can feel the uphill climb during this hike, so go ahead and tell your young ones that they conquered another mountain. Although there are no views at the top of this one, the quarry makes up for that.
Enjoy all of the cool rocks and treasures you find here. Maybe there's even some feldspar in the Seek'em. I mean, it is ceramic.
Shout out to Wendy for telling me about this hike - thanks Wendy! If you have any suggestions of places to explore, please send them my way!