Hike the Mountain Trail to the Bluffs

Mountain Trail Trailhead

Arial and shoreline views of Lake Carlton. Panoramic views of the Sans Bois Mountains. Decent hike through the woods with some elevation gain up the bluff. Lots of off trails to go exploring along the way.

In the heart of the picturesque Sans Bois Mountains, is Robbers Cave State Park. Robbers Cave State Park is rich in its history with outlaws and also provides unbelievable scenery and various outdoor activities to enjoy.

A great way to view the Sans Bois Mountains as well as the scenic Lake Carlton, is to hike the Mountain Trail to the bluffs. The Mountain Trail begins at the south end of the Deep Ford campground and it's path is indicated by the blue blaze markings on the trees. You can access the trail head either by crossing the dam across the Fourche Maline, or by walking across the rocks within the Fourche Maline next to the narrow metal bridge.

For about half a mile, you will hike through a somewhat level trail (only 160 foot elevation gain) among an oak forest, before coming to Lake Carlton. At this point you will notice the trail diverging, but take a sharp left to the trail that goes right along the edge of Lake Carlton. You will continue going along the Lake Carlton shoreline through another oak forest and pass a couple inlets for about another half mile. Again, you will notice the trail diverging into multiple ways. Make sure you take the left trail that winds up the ravine indicated by the blue blaze on the trees. If you take the right trail, this will lead you on a very treacherous climb with steep drop offs, eventually leading into a dead end on the side of the ravine.

Once you take the trail on the left, you will climb about 200 feet up the ravine, where you will notice several ways to enjoy the view from the top of the cliff. In order to get to the bluffs, you will take a right and it will lead you to the first bluff. You will be able to access the second bluff (which is more dramatic looking) after taking a right on the short trail from the first bluff. You can have an aerial view of Lake Carlton as well as the San Bois Mountains from both bluffs. From here, you can either continue on to the Rocky Top campground and Cattail Pond Trail or you can turn back and return to the trail head at the Deep Ford campground.

Pack List

  • Daypack
  • Water
  • Snacks / Meal
  • Camera
  • Circular Polarizer
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking shoes
  • Clothing in layers
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RT Distance 3.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 360 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back


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Overall rating: 

Nice hike

It was a nice hike. Little hard make sure u have good hiking boots

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