Sculptured Rocks Natural Area – July 11, 2011
At Sculptured Rocks Natural Area, tucked under the trees just above Newfound Lake, the Cockermouth Mouth river has been meticulously carving the granite bedrock into a steep and narrow gorge since the last ice age. Standing above the river you can look straight down into the huge potholes and quirky formations that wind there way down the canyon walls before diving into the crystal clear water.
Crossing the dirt road from the parking area I followed the sound of the river to a trail that ducked into the woods. As I got closer to the river I could see the rocks ahead of me dropping straight down into the gorge. The abrupt drops move with the river rising and falling to form cliffs that fall anywhere from five feet high to fifty feet down into the water below.
Standing on the cliffs above I got as close to the edge as I could and began to realize why it’s called Sculptured Rocks. From large to small every piece of rock in the canyon has been molded and shaped as if each one were sculpted by its own artist. From tall circular stone columns, to big square granite walls, and a perfect hole worn directly through a rock, it seems as if nature choose this spot to display its own works of art.
Spanning the tallest and widest part of the gorge, I made my way to the walking bridge that puts you directly above the river, and gives you amazing views of both up and down river from the center of the canyon. I took my time exploring the shallower waters below the bridge, before finding a rock ledge to have lunch on. Sitting in a narrow part of the canyon it wasn’t long before the sun shifted and left my lunch spot in the dark. Moving along I followed the river back to the bridge jumping from rock to rock and skirting the canyons narrow walls to stay dry. Climbing back up to the trail I couldn’t help but stop to peer down into the gorge one last time before heading back.