I could sum this up in 3 words~~~~THIS TRAIL ROCKS! But then I have to elaborate just a little bit more.
Everything I could ever desire on a hike is wrapped up in 7 miles. A canopy of towering Ponderosas, flowing creeks, decent elevation gain and awesome views reward the hiker as you make your way up the Rim. Add a lot of water, several pounds of mud and an adventurous hiking partner and you have a gourmet hike. Oh and a dash of pea sized sleet/hail and some wind just for that extra BAM! We had driven all that way and I wasn't going to be satisfied just hiking in a little way so we just both thought, "Let's go for it". So much for my "fair weather" hiking days.
The Pine trailhead is extremely well maintained and just plain pretty. My only discourse is that is so close to Rte 87 that you hear all the traffic until you get about ½ mile in. I don't know how those elk we saw can stand all the noise. Once you reach the Highline the minty aroma of juniper fills the air and when you head north on the Donahue Trail it wastes no time in letting you know it's a "no nonsense type" of climb.
Despite trekking through the sleet/hail and mud, this hike is a gem. Mike...great write up! It was an awesome day~~~~