The LOViT overlaps with the Charlton Trail at Pipe Spring for a 1.9 miles trek to the Crystal Springs Trailhead. At Pipe Spring, there is, indeed, a pipe spring with an uninterrupted flow of cold water. This trail segment is over 40 years old and travels north along the western flank of an unnamed mountain, over the mountain, and then down into the Crystal Springs Campground area.
There are lovely views of the Walnut Creek Valley at the eastern end of Hickory Nut Mountain. You will hike through an area previously clear-cut of trees but that is now dense. Cross the road (FS47) from the pipe spring to enter the trail.
The trail traveling south from behind the pipe spring is a continuation of the Charlton Trail to the Charlton Recreation Area on Highway 270 and is a tough uphill climb with serious switchbacks.
1.9 miles from Pipe Spring trailhead (P7) to the Crystal Springs Trailhead.
2.2 miles on the trail, or 1.9 miles on the road, to the FS47A/47 Trailhead.
Easy to moderate trail with no water crossings
There is water at the pipe spring located at the trailhead.
Directions to Trailhead:
From Mount Ida go east about 13 miles to Hickory Nut Mountain Road. Turn north (your only option) onto Hickory Nut Mountain Road and follow it for 9/10s of a mile to Forest Service Road FS47. Turn right (east – your only option) onto FS47 (note that Google Maps may incorrectly refer to FS47 as “Hickorynut Mountain Road”) toward Crystal Springs. Pass the FS47A/47 trailhead turnoff on your left at about 2.2 miles and continue on for about 1.4 miles to cross Walnut Creek. The Pipe Spring trailhead is about 1/2 mile past the creek. Look for the pipe spring splashing water on your right. The Pipe Spring trail segment is across FS47 from the spring. The trail behind the pipe spring is a continuation of the Charlton Trail. There is a very small parking area.
From Hot Springs, go west on Highway 270 to the Crystal Springs turnoff on the right. Follow that road toward Crystal Springs Resort until you see FS47 on your left. Take FS47 west until you see the Pipe Spring trailhead. Or you could just go on in to the Crystal Springs trailhead and hike to Pipe Spring.
Near the Crystal Springs trailhead are the Crystal Springs campgrounds, which provides camping and bathrooms, and Crystal Springs Resort, which has lodging, a full service marina, and seasonal restaurant.