Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

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Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby KeyserSoze » Mar 5, 2009 5:47 pm

I'm planning to go to Hemlock Cliffs and Mesmore Cliffs this Saturday on my birthday, but I've never been there before and I'm not sure what to expect. I definitely would like to visit Mesmore Cliffs to try to find some of the sandstone shelter caves there, and also to scope out the area in case I want to come back to do some rope work.

I have trail walking directions to Mesmore Cliffs both from the 2007 NSS guidebook and from other sources online, but I would feel much better going out there with GPS cords, since some of the walking directions I've read so far seem kind of confusing. Is there anybody here who has cords for the Mesmore Cliffs area that they could send me? And for anybody who has been there before; how easy is it to find the caves from the guidebook descriptions?

I would really appreciate the help finding this place, and any extra information would be great also. It could be my birthday present from Cavechat :grin:
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby Grandpa Caver » Mar 5, 2009 11:01 pm

Here is a fair discription of the area and how to get around it...

http://www.hoosierhikerscouncil.org/hik ... _trail.htm

As far as I know the actual "HEMLOCK BLUFF" is still closed to rapelling and climbing due to destruction of endangered ferns in the area.

The popular cliff face locally know as 'MESSMORE BLUFF" is on private property and is also closed.

It is a beautiful place and well worth the visit but don't expect much in the way of caves. The shelters are definately worth the trip though.
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby boreholio » Mar 5, 2009 11:47 pm

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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby KeyserSoze » Mar 6, 2009 1:03 am

Thanks for the info. I had read those sites already, which is actually what caused me to seek GPS cords before going out there. I have experience from other hiking trips where simple walking directions turned out to be very inadequate once getting out to the actual area.

I do know that the caves (shelters) aren't really long or anything, but the entrances look really cool in the pictures. I like seeing big cave entrances almost as much as exploring the actual cave, so I would still like to get out there to see a few of them at least. Are they fairly easy to find once getting to the Messemore Cliffs area? The convention guidebook mentions there being trails to some of them from the valley floor, but I'm still concerned whether it will really be a matter of luck finding them, or whether it should just be pretty obvious once we get there.
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby Grandpa Caver » Mar 6, 2009 5:40 pm

You can easily find all the shelters and bluffs by simply following the trail(s) through the vally floor. If you want to explore the whole property, a topo & compass will help keep you oriented. Be prepared, if it's been raining, the trails can be very muddy!
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby Randyrn » Sep 20, 2010 2:50 pm

I'm waaaay overdue in seeing this post, but anyway, Messmore is definitely NOT on private property, although it's not far from private property. In fact, an old county road takes you right to the drop. Messmore Cliff is a great place!!! And it offers a 105 foot drop from the main overlook. I was just there again two days ago. It's very scenic and a guaranteed good time!! It's in my stomping ground, and I've been there oodles of times over the years. There's a supposed less-than-friendly guy that has a little old shack just beyond the public cliffs. As many times as my friends and I have been to Messmore (day, night, you name it!), we've only heard about the guy. His little shack is almost exactly 0.23 miles beyond Messmore Cliffs, and supposedly he stays there now and then. It's visible on Google maps, and I've seen it myself to verify that it's really there. I've hiked around this guy's place and inadvertently trespassed in order to find his property boundaries, which are marked in numerous locations. I found markers on two sides of his property and marked them on my GPS. The county road ends at this guy's property 0.1 mile beyond Messmore, so at no point do you trespass by going there...not even close really. So that gives you the freedom to rig anywhere along the cliff if you want to rig at a spot aside from the most obvious rig point, which is cleared out and easily shows a barn in the distance. There are superb trees to rig from, and if you want to rig high, there's a tree right on the edge allowing a really nice deviation. I have the GPS coordinates if you want them.

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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby batrotter » Sep 20, 2010 3:38 pm

As Grandpa Caver stated, rappelling and climbing is prohibited there due to the damage done to ferns. In additon, this is part of the Hoosier National Forest, so entry into the caves is prohibited due to WNS.
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby wyandottecaver » Sep 20, 2010 4:38 pm

just for clarification.....

Hemlock Cliffs (HNF) does not allow rappelling. Mesmore Cliffs (sort-of-recent HNF aquisition) does allow rappelling. However, neither area is open to cave entry without a permit due to WNS regulations.
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby Randyrn » Sep 20, 2010 4:40 pm

Batrotter,

Can you be more specific about what you're referring to as closed? You mentioned caves and WNS, but I'm not talking about anything other than a cliff. I'm aware of some areas pretty close to Messmore Cliff that just might have a WNS sign in front of it, but that's not what I was discussing. I've seen the WNS signs that are posted all over the place however, and I have gladly honored them. If you can provide me a link to something about the closure of Messmore Cliff, I'd greatly appreciate it. I was there two days ago and didn't see any signs on the entrance road about anything being prohibited. If I can find something in writing, I will gladly honor that "closure" as well and will pass the word on. Thanks.

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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby wyandottecaver » Sep 20, 2010 7:13 pm

Randy,

WNS applies only to caves, sinkholes, and karsty looking thingamajigs. All such features on any USFS land are "closed". The cliffs themselves are not impacted. If Messmore has been closed to rappelling it would be new to me.
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby Grandpa Caver » Sep 20, 2010 7:18 pm

To my knowledge only Hemlock Cliff is closed for the endangered fern.

Myself and a few friends were ordered off Messmore several years back by a gentleman who claimed to own the property on that side of the road. The initial encounter was at gunpoint but after a brief chat he became friendly enough. I've dropped Messmore many times in the past without any problems but since that incident I've not returned.
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby wyandottecaver » Sep 20, 2010 7:29 pm

Brian,

I haven't heard of anyone having problems lately (last 5 years). It is clearly USFS property and gets a LOT of visitation.

Randy...were you there Sat night? I group I know was there that night then did Marengo New Discovery Sunday
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby KeyserSoze » Sep 20, 2010 8:15 pm

Thank you for the update on this thread. I have been to Mesmore Ridge and Hemlock Cliffs a few times since I started this thread last year. It's a great place for sure. We found 4 or 5 of the sandstone caves/shelters that are detailed in the convention guidebook. I too heard a story from some people at Mesmore Ridge about a grumpy man that lives further down the road there.

And FYI, there is only one area at Hemlock Cliffs that is closed to Rappelling. It is marked clearly on the trail map http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/hoosier/recreation/trail_rogs/hemlock_cliffs.pdf. Hemlock Falls is in that area. The other waterfall on Hemlock Cliffs trail is fair game game though. One time we rappelled/climbed the other waterfall just after a huge rain storm, it was great; here is a picture
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby Randyrn » Sep 21, 2010 9:11 am

wyandottecaver wrote:Brian,

I haven't heard of anyone having problems lately (last 5 years). It is clearly USFS property and gets a LOT of visitation.

Randy...were you there Sat night? I group I know was there that night then did Marengo New Discovery Sunday



Todd,
Yes, there was a camp set up right at the main Messmore Overlook, and for that reason I moved further down the cliff a ways to rig. Looked like some young guys in a full-size Dodge Diesel pickup and also a smaller red pickup. I was mighty impressed that they were able to navigate the road actually! I never did talk to them. Now that you mention their cave trip, I wish I would've.


Concerning the private property issue: The county "road" that ya hike in on has a cable strung across it 0.1 miles past the main Messmore overlook. That's where the "No Trespassing" signs start. The road beyond Messmore, however, is now very overgrown, which is new to me. The guy seems to have his property pretty well marked out on the Messmore side. I found (and marked on my GPS) nine property markers, and I'm sure I missed some!

Also, since there has been mention of caves and WNS, which has nothing to do with Messmore Cliff, I'll mention something else. I'm guessing these folks are referring to an area that can be found if you drop down the hillside directly on the opposite side of the county road from Messmore. If you drop about 80 yards (I'm getting these distances from measuring between my coordinates that I imported to Google Earth) straight down the hill perpendicular to the county road and then begin contouring the hill to your left (in a northeast direction), you'll find some neat small cliffs/shelters and even an arch called Aarowhead Arch. But you have only about 150-175 yards to contour the hillside for cool stuff before you run into private property. And unfortunately, I'm certain that there's some cool stuff on the other side of the No Trespassing signs...and maybe an old mad camouflaged like Rambo. :laughing: I'm sure this is the rock shelters and arch referred to in Grandpa Caver's link that he provided in his first post on this thread. Indians apparently used to inhabit the area and in some way or another utilized some of the natural shelters. I think I recall a sign at one of the neat areas indicating this. Papoose Cave is also down there but appears to be most likely on private property (I may be wrong on this, but it's sure close to the property line!). Anyway, the area is definitely a nice (and short) bit of exploration to add to a day of climbing at Messmore, but just be alert for the No Trespassing signs.


Grandpa Caver,
Now that you mention that story of being run off at gunpoint, I remember hearing of that happening to someone before. Concerning this old fart (if he's even still around), His little "vacation" shack is located at N38°17'20.50" W86°31'34.98", and as I mentioned is clearly visible on Google Earth. As a crow flies, it's 0.25 mile from the Messmore Cliff. From there you can see a road that heads down the hill away from Messmore (opposite from the direction you hike in from) that leads down to Old Felker Rd (Co Rd 128), right across from a farmhouse. Maybe he lives there??? :shrug: So I'm pretty darn certain that the guy probably rarely entered on the county road that we would enter on. And perhaps that's why hardly anyone that you run into has actually seen the guy. Beats me.
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Re: Hemlock Cliffs / Mesmore Cliffs Indiana

Postby Grandpa Caver » Sep 21, 2010 8:08 pm

"Grandpa Caver,
Now that you mention that story of being run off at gunpoint, I remember hearing of that happening to someone before. Concerning this old fart (if he's even still around), His little "vacation" shack is located at N38°17'20.50" W86°31'34.98", and as I mentioned is clearly visible on Google Earth. As a crow flies, it's 0.25 mile from the Messmore Cliff. From there you can see a road that heads down the hill away from Messmore (opposite from the direction you hike in from) that leads down to Old Felker Rd (Co Rd 128), right across from a farmhouse. Maybe he lives there??? So I'm pretty darn certain that the guy probably rarely entered on the county road that we would enter on. And perhaps that's why hardly anyone that you run into has actually seen the guy. Beats me."

Randy,

My memory of the encounter is slowly returning. As I recall, prior to meeting this guy, some young folks had been camping near the bluff. Late that evening a young lady from the group left camp to relieve herself and stumbled to her death over the bluff. I was told at the time (this is hearsay on my part), the ladys family had sued the owner and won a settlement. The gentleman we met that night did indeed claim to be the very owner who had lost the lawsuit.

Now I'm confused. If the Forest Service owns Messmore Cliff, might my encounter have happened prior to the Forest Services ownership of the property?
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