This post is a little late, so I won't be too wordy with it. I was able to get into the Forest both days last weekend. On Saturday, I rode from the Ranger Station, and did 276>477>Clawhammer>Black>Buckwheat>Bennett>477>276. It was a really nice ride, and I felt like I had the Forest to myself.
On Sunday, Heather and I decided to see if we could figure out how to get up to Cedar Rock from Butter Gap. We started out on what I'm pretty sure is the correct trail, and took it to the left when it got steep. This is where we ended up:
There was no really obvious way up the rock face, and it was kinda wet, and I really didn't feel like killing myself, so we went back down a bit, and took a less obvious right route when it got steep. This time, we ended up here:
Again, no obvious way up, so we hung out and had a snack, before descending back down to the gap. We then decided to take another unmarked trail from there, and ended up at the base of Cedar Rock, where there are some climbing routes. This was a fun place to just play around.
So we never did make it to the top of Cedar Rock. From what I've read, you basically have to scramble up the rock face to get there from this side, and there are supposedly some "steps" carved into the rock, but I didn't see them. I think we'll just start at the hatchery next time and come up the other side.