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March 7, 2006
From journal Camping in the Wichita Mountains
by Ben the Grate
May 7, 2003
To reach the Rock Rooms, follow the Elk Mountain Trail from the Sunet Picnic Area. After about 3/4 of a mile, the trail will break out of a thick area of trees and begin to approach a large grassy meadow just below the summit.
BEFORE you reach this grassy saddle, watch carefully on your right for a dim trail that breaks through the shrubs and heads uphill. Follow this dim trail straight up to the top of the mountain.
(If you miss the trail, continue on the main trail until it reaches the summit of Elk Mountain, then turn northwest and hike through grassy meadows following the directions below.)
The dim trail will reach the top of the mountain and disappear, reappearing occasionally. Ignore the trail once you reach the top of the mountain and take a northwesterly course along the grassy meadows toward two LARGE boulders on a flat granite area on the right side of a deep canyon.
Hike up between these two boulders and continue along the ridge above and to the left of the canyon. About five minutes after passing the boulders you will see the canyon wall below you becomes grassier and easier to climb down.
Descend into the bottom of the canyon at this point. Then turn down-canyon and look for a medium-sized boulder (about 10 feet high) sitting just to the right of a tree growing out of a crack. Climb down into this crack.
From here on out you're on your own. Clamber beneath boulders on the easiest and most obvious path sort of up and to your left, but always heading down canyon. The going is VERY tough, sometimes a slide down vertical granite cliffs.
Follow your nose and ears and instincts which will eventually lead you to a dark crack from which cold air will blow. You may hear running water. This is the entrance to the Rock Rooms.
Following the torturous path down through the rooms should be aided by a flashlight and rope. You will eventually emerge from the chambers in The Valley of the Boulders on the east side of Elk Mountain. Clamber down the valley to the Sunset Trail on the opposite side, turn right, and follow it back to the picnic area.
The whole trip, if you find the entrance to the rooms, will take 4-6 hours, possibly more if you have trouble finding the route. It should be done by experienced hikers who are familiar with rock scrambling, and a minimum of three hikers should go. The terrain is very dangerous to the inexperienced.
Despite the danger, the path under the boulders of Elk Mountain is enchanting and beautiful. Enjoy with caution!
From journal The Land of Incongruities!