Lower Blowhard Trail to Crystal Springs and Potato Hollow
The lower section of the Blowhard Trail is the one major trail I’ve been meaning to hike for the past year. Beginning in the gorge and following the border of the Ashdown Wilderness, the trail climbs to the rim and winds up through forest and meadow for about 4 miles gaining over a thousand feet until it reaches Crystal Springs where it connects via the Crystal Springs Trail with Long Hollow, Potato Hollow, and other trails (which loops back through drainages down to Ashdown Gorge) or continues up through aspen forest towards the peak of Blowhard Mountain. Most of the way views of Cedar Breaks and the surrounding mountains are possible and once we reached the largest of the meadows we were treated to 360 degree vistas across the Cedar Mountain Range.
Once we had ascended up to Crystal Springs and hiked across the lush meadows there we opted to pass up the shorter Long Hollow route – which we had both hiked before – and extend our loop to return via Potato Hollow after taking an unmarked spur that leads up to a secluded overlook of Cedar Breaks. Potato Hollow turned out to be a very steep descent and a very underused trail which made wayfinding in the meadows of the hollow tricky. We headed downhill, periodically losing the faint path knowing that sooner or later we’d run into the rim of Ashdown Gorge and the rough access road that would return us to the last half mile section of the Blowhard. Neither one of us anticipated that our hike would end up being about 13 miles miles but it was wonderful to explore the beautiful sections of the Lower Blowhard and return to the spectacular meadows and vistas at Crystal Springs and beyond.