Rock Knob from Hartley Nature Center (.6 Miles One Way)
The hike to Rock Knob is one of the most popular hikes in the park, and for good reason. In just over a half a mile, the route to Rock Knob travels along Tischer Creek to Hartley Pond, and then winds its way through a wooded forest on it’s way up to a large outcropping of rock that provides a nearly 270-degree view of Hartley Park. On a clear day you can see Lake Superior, the wet meadow (what used to be the Allendale Farm fields), Old Hartley Road, and a forest of trees that dominate the horizon. This time of year, the forest is ablaze with yellows, reds, and oranges that remind you of autumns beauty. The most amazing part of this hike is that from the top of Rock Knob, you barely see any signs that remind you that remind you that you’re in the middle of the city.
Begin your Hike at the Kiosk in front of the Hartley Nature Center Building. Take the North Tischer Trail (SHT) to the left and follow it alongside the butterfly garden and over the boardwalk with the low hanging tree branch (watch your head). Continue past the fenced enclosure and onto the Superior Hiking Trail (follow the blue signs). Continue on the SHT as it travels alongside Tischer Creek. After a short walk you’ll reach Hartley Pond. Cross the dam and take the gravel path towards the boat shed (and canoes). Here the gravel path runs head on to the Rock Knob Multi-use Trail.
Almost immediately after leaving the gravel path Rock Knob Trail will fork. Take the trail to the left. This is a relatively new spur of the Superior Hiking Trail. It was hand built by a group of volunteers from several organizations: including Hartley Nature Center. The trail winds through a forested landscape as it begins to climb in elevation. At first the climb is gentle; steepening a bit as it passes through a grassy meadow. From here the trail climbs a bit faster through dense forest; eventually leveling out just before the top of the Rock Knob Trail. Here the trail opens significantly, and you are treated to your first expansive view.
A short distance down the trail you’ll reach the intersection of the SHT spur and the Rock Knob Multi-use trail. Directly in front of you is the large outcropping of exposed bedrock known as Rock Knob. Carefully scramble up the rock and you’ll reach the top. This is a perfect spot for a quick snack, or picnic lunch. Return the same way you came.