I love a nice, simple hike. Especially when I know I have other things going on that day.
Once again, this was not the hike I was planning on doing this past weekend (told ya plans would change, haha). Things got tweaked when my uncle’s birthday get-together got pushed to Sunday. We went with this one because a) it was short, b) it was easy, and c) it was on the way. It worked out really well.
We had to make this a family hike so, per the us(ual), we got there an hour later than I had hoped. I was really, really annoyed with this. As soon as we were within about a half mile of the entrance, we saw multiple groups of people walking towards the park. You know me, I immediately got nervous about finding a place to park. The ranger at the front gate was very nice and helpful. She mentioned that they had “a lot going on” that day, so parking may be scarce, and gave us a pamphlet with a map and information about the park. I was prepared to pay $5 for parking, but was unaware that it’s $6 on a weekend (if you hadn’t noticed, the rates are actually in the featured image for this post 🙂 ). The first lot was small and completely full. The second lot was slightly bigger, but looked occupied by a bus for some camping boy scouts. The third one was also dinky and packed, but one car created a parking spot for itself at the very end so we took a chance doing the same. Thank goodness Chris was driving because I would’ve been panicking SO MUCH MORE than I already was at this point. We started unloading and the kids went right over to the stream that ran along part of the tiny lot. (Side note: this place had the best bathrooms I’ve seen yet! Real flushing toilets and paper seat covers! And clean!!) While they were checking things out and I was getting my camera ready, some people loaded up in their car and left, so we got a spot! I know, I know, I’m really focused on this parking stuff. I can’t help it, but I can say it’s much easier to enjoy being somewhere when you aren’t hoping in the back of your mind that your car doesn’t get ticketed or towed.
Parking this far in cut just a bit off the full length of the hike, but not enough that I felt like I cheated. It was still about a mile each way. The park and trails are very user-friendly, and we easily got ourselves on track and navigated without the help of a map. After being warned to not get eaten by bears, we followed the stream for a short while, which, by the way, had the clearest water I’ve seen anywhere so far. It led us to the first of at least three man-made dams (I wasn’t counting) with a mini-waterfall of its own. My daughter went down to investigate and I tried to get some pictures of her, but, being a pre-teen, she wasn’t exactly cooperative. The trail was so, so pretty. Cool and shady, easy to follow. There were some numbered markers with symbols that lined it part of the way for a self-guided tour. I have no idea what they meant but would really like to go back and do this one again to find out. I heard the nature center has some cool stuff, too, so I think another trip is gonna have to happen.
Besides the weather being favorable, the trail has parts to it that are just interesting to look at. At one point the “wall” seemed to go all the way up on one side. There was a section where the trail narrowed to just a few feet wide and dropped off one side, but not in a scary death way. There were a lot of little places to go slightly off-trail and get closer to the stream, which was really fun for the kids. We even found what we decided was a bear cave. It probably wasn’t, but I wasn’t sure enough to go poking around in there. I wasn’t about to wake up Yogi without a pic-a-nic basket to toss his way.
About a mile in we finally hit the falls, which was perfect because tiny little short-legged son wasn’t sure he could take much more. There was a good amount of people there, which was to be expected, but also kind of a drag. While on one hand it wasn’t easy to get a people-less picture of the waterfall, on the other it meant there were plenty of folks to ask to take pictures for me, lol. We hung out here as much as we could, the kids crossing back and forth across the beginning of the stream at the foot of the falls. We eventually had to start back so we could leave in time to make it to my aunt and uncle’s, but I didn’t feel pressed for time. The walk back was just as beautiful, this time with the sun high enough to shine through the trees and sparkle on the water. At one point I fell and ate it, but that’s not important.
We made great time back, still able to take in nature in all it’s splendor. The whole hike ended up only taking a couple of hours, which was perfect for that day. It also marked my fifth hike of the month and overall, which is an exciting little milestone. I have to average five a month to stay on track, so I’m well on schedule to making 60 for the year 😉
What I learned:
- If I want to hike with my family at 8, shoot for 7
- Hiking with my family = lots of long-arm selfies and pictures of them walking away
- The one time I really need something from my pack will be the one time I forgot to pack it
- I have to save up for a new camera. Insert broken heart and winged money emojis here