After I finished the Lake Trail, I crossed to the other side of Otter Creek Rd. (the road running down the middle of the park) and headed to the trail head for South Cove Trail, which heads back towards the Nature Center, but on the opposite side of the lake. The only thing I knew about South Cove Trail before setting out was that my map said it was 1.2 miles one-way and “difficult”, but after the easiness of the Lake Trail, I was ready for more of a challenge. Plus, 1.2 miles really isn’t that long, so I figured no matter how “difficult” (or not) it turned out to be, I would be able to handle it no problem.
The difficulty with South Cove Trail lies with the steep inclines. If you’re starting from the East Side (like me), the trail head is several steep steps followed by another incline. The trail then levels off for a bit, during which time you think to yourself “Difficult?? That was a breeze!” and then there’s an even bigger, steeper incline. That being said, however, the trail really wasn’t that bad. Yes, if you’re out of shape (like me, courtesy of the past few months I’ve basically spent hibernating), you’ll be panting by the time you get to the top. And yes, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be inwardly cursing switchbacks (even though there are only a handful on this trail). But, this trail is nowhere near as difficult as many others I’ve hiked (Upper Sunset Trail in the Franklin Mountains and the Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon come to mind off the top of my head). It’s completely in the shade, there are benches scattered along its length to let you rest if you need it, and some of the steepest parts even have hand rails to help you along. South Cove trail is a lot less popular than Lake Trail, but there were still a wide range of age groups and body types moving right along.
With South Cove Trail, there are a lot fewer views of the lake since the trails curves inwards, but the views are no less beautiful. Once again I left my iPod in my backpack and just enjoyed the sights and sounds. I even managed to accidentally sneak up on some deer, which was pretty cool.
Overall it was a good, brisk hike that got my blood pumping. I’d like to go back, though, once the trees and plants start to bloom. I think it has the potential for some amazing pictures when everything’s various shades of brown.