Travertine Creek Trail
Distance: 1.5 miles (2.4km)
Average Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy, surface is hardpacked soil
Starting Point: Travertine Nature Center or Pavilion Springs
Originally called Sulphur Creek, Travertine Creek gets its main water supply from Antelope and Buffalo Springs. The water that emerges from Antelope and Buffalo Springs contains dissolved limestone from underground deposits. Above ground the limestone is redeposited as a porous substance known as travertine.
From the Travertine Nature Center, you will follow the trail west to Little Niagara waterfall, a favorite swimming hole for many visitors. Little Niagara waterfall was formed by one of a series of dams constructed by the Civilian Conservation Center (CCC) along Travertine Creek. The water of Travertine Creek maintains an average temperature of 65 degrees year round, which makes for an invigorating plunge on hot summer days. Travertine Creek tumbles over 75 natural rock falls and down six man-made dams as it winds along its 2 1/2 mile course from the Travertine Nature Center to Pavilion Springs.
You may want to take a side hike to Travertine Island, an area the CCC improved for visitor recreation. They built a long slab rock picnic table and rock benches in 1934. You may also observe towering black walnut trees. In the fall of the year, American Indians would gather walnuts and store them for food. They would pulverize the husk and stir this into pools of water to stun the fish. The fish could then be easily caught and dried for winter.
The trees overhanging the waters edge with peeling, paper-thin whitish bark and broad leaves are sycamores. The sycamore is found in wet soil along stream and lake banks and in flood plain forests along with willows and cottonwoods. Red cedars and mixed prairie grasses such as the little bluestem, the Indian grass, and the broadleaf dangle grass speckle the border of the trail. Other plants commonly seen are the prickly pear cactus and yucca plants.
The trail ends at either the Travertine Nature Center or Pavilion Springs where you can backtrack to your original starting point.
Last updated: March 31, 2012