Many years ago I worked with a fellow named Dave Anders. He was a crazy Italian guy who loved hiking and was amazing to work with taking care of the juvenile delinquents where we both were employed. My first experience hiking the Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Trail was with Dave and a group of those wonderfully behaved kids (cough cough!!). This hike was one of Dave’s favorite short hikes and he had done it numerous times. He always did it “backwards”, or going up Frankenstein Cliff first and then ending at the falls to cool off and then down to the vehicle. Unfortunately, Dave has since passed away due to cancer from the many not so healthy things he did when he was younger. I miss Dave and his humor and whenever we do that hike, we do it “backwards” and when we get to the top of the cliffs, I have a little chat with Dave. I’m actually getting a little teary typing actually.
OK, back to the article! Here is a link to the hike and many reviews to give you an idea of the trail and what people say about it:
Two summers ago, 2013, our little family decided to hit the trail and do our favorite hike. Given that we had done it with kids before, we didn’t really think about how terribly out of shape we all were. Our daughter was 10 then and well within the age to handle the hike. When we had previously done the hike, it was somewhere around 4 miles. Well, what we didn’t realize, was when that area got hit by tornadoes, they had to reroute the trail which made it 6 miles!! We paid dearly for that lack of information!!!
The complete 6 mile hike is pretty rugged. We passed numerous folks coming the other direction that were seriously under-geared and in inappropriate dress and footwear. I can’t count the number of college aged boyfriends dragging their girlfriends along for a hike, with their soon to be ex-girlfriends dressed in tanktops, flipflops, and carrying their useless gear in string satchels on their shoulders. I would guess you could take some pretty heartbreaking but amusing video at the parking lot of the interactions between these doomed relationships, and of course the blood and scrapes from slipping and sliding on the rock faces below Frankenstein Cliff.
Well, we all survived the hike, despite our terrible physical shape and our daughter having bronchitis (we didn’t know at the time). We packed the appropriate gear, water, and food and dressed appropriately for the hike. Despite our extreme physical pain after the hike, we enjoyed it as usual and I got to chat with Dave again, which is important to do every so often.
As to the hike itself, many people just hike up to the falls, which is not an easy hike, but not hard either. It is all up hill basically but worth getting to. The water is super clean and cold, but once you get to the falls, the rocks are big and the trail is very rugged. We passed numerous folks on our way down who clearly had health problems, were overweight, and were not prepared for even that short hike, which I believe is a mile. For us that day, the mile down to the car was BRUTAL!!! Our muscles were outraged at our treatment of them and told us so repeatedly.
In closing, I would say, read the reviews about the hike before you tackle it. Be prepared and properly dressed and geared up. It’s not doing a 4k footer or anything, but it’s a rugged hike with rock face scrambling and whatnot. But if you do get up there to Frankenstein Cliff, say hi to Dave for me!!