Two group decisions had been made in advance: the hot springs would not be on our itinerary, from everything that we had read, it was very dirty and highly overused, and this would be a short day on the trail so that we could rest our weary legs.
After a well-deserved leisurely morning, as we were in absolutely no hurry, we made a very late start on the trail. We arrived at the Hot Springs trailhead about .4 miles later where we used the bathroom and checked out the signs. There was a TON of graffiti and stickers all over the trail signs. This was the only section of the trail where we saw trash and evidence of poor human behavior.
Given that we were hiking downriver, we crossed the bridge and turned left, which turned out to be the wrong way...the USFS needs to have their trail signs up high enough so that they cannot be covered over with stickers! After a .5 mile round trip to nowhere, we came back to the bridge and proceeded to find our way, which included a very, very steep section of the trail.
After a relatively short hike, we arrived at the Tokatee Lake trailhead and adjacent campsite. We retrieved the car from the Tokatee Falls trailhead parking lot, which contained creature comforts such as camp chairs and cold beverages.
The campground was large and very full of extremely respectful campers. It was about the quietest campground we have ever been in...oh, and guess who was camped directly across from us? Yep, full frontal man.
Total mileage for the day: 5.0 miles
Campground: Tokatee Campground ($10). Large campground; no water. There was a LOT of dust; old ashes from the fire pits were dumped on the site (rather than removed) by maintenance folks.
Wildlife: Nothing on the trail.
Trail conditions: Good.
Terrain: Heavily forested and steep climbs.
Surprises: Oops...we had left the car at the Tokatee Falls trailhead rather than the Tokatee Lake trailhad, requiring a 1.55 mile walk to retrieve the car. The good thing was that there was a lot of shade, so our beverages were still nice and cold.