I have noticed the T-Lake Trail on my runs along Piseco Lake many times, and have thought about checking it out for many years. After running to Poplar Point from Evergreen Lake (about 5 mi) I decided what the heck. Life is short. So I signed the registry at the entrance and decided to run the roughly 8 mile round trip trail, thinking 8 miles would take me 1.5-2 hours. Although, most readers may opt to do the trail walking with a friend, water, and maybe a few granola bars, I ran and walked at points with maybe 8 oz of water on a day with 90% humidity and about 80-85 degrees. Remember also that this is after already running approx 5 miles. The trail itself was pretty well marked and maintained, although very narrow and angled toward drop-offs at some points.There are no indicators or signs to tell you how close you are to landmarks like T-Lake, so bring a good topo map or GPS device. The terrain was very dry because of the drought, so it was a good time to do this run, although my street running shoes were not a good match for the tree roots and rocks that pockmark most of the trail. So caution must be exercised as carelessness could result in a nasty fall in a place where it could be several hours before someone might discover you missing, or come up on you on the trail. I "ran" into no one on the trip in as I went up and down the many and seemingly endless mountainsides, hills, valleys and stream beds. You don't realize sometimes how long 8 miles is on a forested trail like this, and how difficult and arduous a journey this can become unless you are a seasoned trekker.
After what seemed an eternity (approx 1 hour 10 minutes) I finally stumbled on the T-Lake lean to (no one was there) and checked out the accommodations. The lean to was built and in good condition, and included several charred skillets, some plastic tarps and some other odds and ends. I worked my way down to the river that comes into T-Lake, and then took an a fairly obstructed view of T Lake and the top of the falls, which was very difficult to see where I stood. I can see why several people have gone over the edge trying to check out the view. Knowing my wife would soon be getting nervous about the time I had been away I decided to head back out and save the photo ops and discovery for another day when more time was allotted and someone had my back.
About 1 mile out I crossed paths with the first person I had seen on the trail. He was a younger guy (late 20's) who looked like a seasoned back country trekker. We both looked surprised. I was jogging along the trail and looked up and there he was. We studied each other for a few seconds, said hello, and he asked simply if T-Lake was another 3 miles? I said maybe a little less and ran off. The return trip seemed to go a little smoother and I even recognized some of the landmarks I had encountered on the run in, so I was a little more at ease. About 1 mile from the entrance, I encountered the second person I would see on the trail that day. I saw him about 50 yards away because unlike the previous person, this guy seemed to be totally out of place here. He was dressed in long white pants and a casual shirt looking like he had just gotten out of church. He had two tiny mi-mi dogs on leashes. I envisioned Wile E Coyote with his bib around his neck and fork and knife in hand, licking his chops as he studied these comical little doggies. This gentleman asked me how much further to T Lake, and after telling him he had another 3 miles of very rugged terrain to go, I continued moving back towards the trail head. This interlude seemed to give me an interesting diversion from my aching knees and ankles for the remainder of the run. Finally, after about 2 hours and 25 minutes I signed out on the Ranger's log and headed down Piseco to complete the final 5 miles of my run. I had been out on my run almost 4 hours, when my wife and son came looking for me, and found me running the last leg home just past the Piseco Lake Lodge. She looked both relieved and pissed, and I had that to think about that the last mile or so.
Anyway, if you're a trail runner or hiker, this on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being most difficult, I would rate this hike a 5 or 6 if you're very athletic, and a 7 or 8 if you are in so-so shape.If you are a novice and have two Yorkshire terriers in tow, don't do it. In terms of interesting and scenic with 10 being heavenly, this is maybe a 7 or 8. T-Lake is very pristine and lush, the forests, hills and large stones are rugged but beautiful. I imagine it must be gorgeous when the autumn leaves peak.
September continues the exceedingly hot and dry summer we've experienced this year. A struggle for many of us to maintain our core temperatures and our sanity, as we plead for many cool and cleansing rains, to break the cycle and soothe the parched landscape and replenish the lakes and reservoirs.