Ok, first: It wasn't a secret trail. It's a not-so-well-known trail, but it was in a Mountaineer's publication so it's surely not a secret.
Second: Maybe not so good for kids.
Third: Fun times.
We (Me, kids, dog) met them (Josie, Scott) and the other them (Chris, Kelly, Jake, Tyler) there (the trailhead) at about 9:45. The sun was out. The birds were chirping. It was nice.
There was only one other car there and they were heading somewhere else. When we got to the secret spot where we'd go our own way we looked around and hopped the ______ and disappeared from view. (Is all this secrecy really necessary? Dunno, but I'd hate for people to stop sending me tips like this so mum's the word.)
Now that we were on our own we wandered up the trail. The guidance we were given was to generally head uphill and when there was a choice we should turn right. Ok, fair enough.
There were supposed to be a bunch of birdhouses along the trail so we spent much time looking up rather than at our feet. Amazingly, nobody took any really serious spills. Henry had started out walking, but that didn't last long. The trail was steeper and rougher than he could handle. He went first to my shoulders, then later into a pack generously provided by Scott and Josie.
We took a right at the fork and saw a huge rock in the middle of the woods. It was studded with climbing hardware, which was reassuring. It meant we were on the right track since this trail was rumored to be frequented by the climbing community. We followed along below it before the trail petered out. Perhaps we needed to be over there?
So we retreated and took the left fork (finding one of the birdhouses in the process). Up a bit more, right a bit, follow that trail right back to where we were so that taking a right was actually the same as if we had taken the earlier left. Confused yet? So were we.
Back in the woods we found a series of switchbacks. We took a final right more because it looked like it'd lead to an overlook where we could have lunch rather than because it felt like the right direction. In fact, I think we were all confident (well... me and Scott) that we needed to go left to get to our supposed destination.
But, as frequently happens when hiking with little ones we changed our plans as it was about lunchtime and a level spot with views as as much as we could hope for. While the kid dug into their food we poked our heads through the thick undergrowth at the edges of the cliffs.
And we were blown back into the woods. Wow. That's some serious wind. We've got to get the kids out here... maybe we should hold on to them, though. Perhaps we could fly them like kites. So we each took a kid. Easy for Chris and Kelly. I had to choose the one of the three of mine I least wanted to lose so I chose... nah. Scott and Josie each took a girl and we made our way out onto the ledges with killer views and sudden lull in the wind. Convenient.
After pics and lunch we headed down. The way back, without turns and more turns and extra distance was a lot easier and quicker. With a quick glance up and down the route to make sure nobody could see where we were coming from we rejoined the known route and were soon back at the cars. We just beat Amy home from a morning on the town (breakfast and shopping) and were able to get some good resting before we missed our window.
We didn't get to our original destination, but found a great lunch spot. 1.8 miles and 905 feet of gain.