Along the Ripley Falls Trail, if you're lucky, you might see a toad as big as a car!
This can be fun for the little ones. Of course, if they're too easily frightened of such things, you can spill the beans early: It's a boulder that looks like a toad.
But it really does look like a toad! Doesn't even require much imagination.
Unfortunately, it's in among some small beech trees, so it's hard to get far enough away to get a picture of it and still have a clear view. These pictures don't do it justice. You'll have to see it for yourself.
Update, 5/4/2008: Even in early spring, it's hard to get a good picture. There aren't many evergreens in the area, but they're all clustered around the giant toad!.
On your way up to Ripley Falls, look for it on your right, just about fifteen feet back from the trail.
After you leave the Ethan Pond Trail, the Ripley Falls Trail is nearly level at first. Then it begins climbing, and becomes somewhat steep. When it levels out again after that first steep part, look for the toad.
Update, 5/4/2008: There is a very distinctive landmark to watch for. Above the Ethan Pond trail, the first time you see a boulder that projects into the trail and has a blue blaze on it, that's the place. Stand beside this boulder and look up the hill..
This boulder marks the place where you can see the giant toad above the trail.
The same boulder as seen on your way back from the waterfall.
One of my nephews first saw it when he was about six. He got a kick out of it, and told us he supposed all the toads in the area gathered there at night to worship their toady god.
One of my granddaughters first saw it when she was five. She was quite apprehensive, so we had to assure her it was no more a real toad than Elephant Head (one of her favorite hikes) is a real elephant.
I told her it only eats giant stone ants.