Friday, April 27, 2018

David English and Twin Ponds Cut-Off Trail

Location: White Clay Creek State Park, Newark, Delaware
Season Visited: Spring
Trail Length: David English Trail is 2.4 miles long. If you make it a shorter loop from the park office by taking the Twin Ponds Cut-Off Trail, I estimate the hike to be about 1.6 miles. The cut-off trail itself is 0.4 miles. You can see the layout of the trail (and other trails in the park) on this map.
Time to Hike: Hiking the full David English Trail took us about 2 hours, going at a toddler's pace some of the way. Doing the short loop via the cut-off trail when said toddler was a small baby took us 1.5 hours.
Difficulty Level: Moderately easy.

I have written before about trails in White Clay Creek State Park. This post is actually two posts in one, as I have hiked this trail twice now. The first time was in May 2017 when my son was three months old. The first part of this post and the accompanying pictures are from that hike. The goal that day was to hike the entire David English Trail, but the baby was not having it and we ended up taking the cut-off trail to make a shorter loop back to our car. The second time was a couple of weeks ago, the beginning of April, with a much more adventurous 14-month-old! This park is close and pretty and has easy hikes - perfect for a new mom or families with young children. The David English Trail in particular is a good choice because you can decide at the halfway point whether you want the hike to be short or a bit longer depending on how your family is feeling. Be warned: on a warm April day you will have to get out of the way of a LOT of bikers.

Both times, in addition to my son, I went with my husband and sister to the hike, which starts at a trailhead at the following coordinates, near a park office:

One nice thing about the White Clay Creek trail markers is that they include coordinates!

As you can see on the map, the trail has three different ways you can go almost immediately. We decided to go left here. This put us directly on the David English Trail, walking on relatively level ground. Going right would also have put us on the David English Trail, but there looked to be an incline, and we decided to go easy on ourselves since this was only my second-ever hike with the baby back in 2017. What followed was a mostly flat dirt trail.

With the newest addition!

My sister is obviously highly enjoying her quality time with nature.

Further on we came to a bench, where I fed the baby and let him chill out of the carrier for a while. At the time I was experiencing quite a bit of difficulty hiking with him because he did not like the carrier under most circumstances. Now that he can sit in a backpack - or walk - he has taken to hiking with joy.

It was only a year ago, but he looks so much smaller than he does now, as you will see!

Here you can see how the trail looks in April from our most recent trip:

There is much less foliage in April. This is the trail just past the parking lot.

Past the bench the trail opens up, coming to a sweet little pond filled with turtles, and where we spotted many small birds. Both times I've been to this pond I've seen eastern bluebirds. After the pond, the trail meanders back into the woods. Near the end it becomes a bit more steep, and you do have to put in a bit of effort, especially if carrying a toddler on your back. It's never difficult, however. In season you can see a lovely magnolia tree blooming near the park office before returning to the parking lot. These pictures are from the April 2018 trip.

My sister and dog.

Baby boy loves hanging out in the Osprey carrier.

Conked out.

I was very happy to be able to complete the trail this time around. A successful hike with my son has definitely renewed my confidence as I begin to hike more often with him. I can't wait to share more of our adventures with you.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mount Kineo - Carriage Trail

Location: Mount Kineo, Moosehead Lake, Maine
Season Visited: Summer
Trail Length: 5.4 miles there-and-back
Time to Hike: 3 hours
Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5

I revisited Mount Kineo three weeks ago, and instead of taking the beloved Indian Trail up the mountain, I walked the length of the island with my husband and parents on the Carriage Trail.

As noted in my previous post about Kineo (linked above), the only way to get to the mountain is by boat.  All of the information is the same as it was three years ago, except that the price per person was jacked up to $12.  Or you can take your own boat, if you have one.  Donations at the island are encouraged, but I've never seen anyone actually pay.

From the dock, the Carriage Trail is on your left.  It's the only trail there, so you can't get lost!  In front of you is the majestic Mount Kineo.

The most dramatic view of the mountain is the first one.  After that you'll be spending time following the edge of the lake with the mountain on your right-hand side until it sinks into the forest.  On the map below you can see the Carriage Trail on the western edge of the island.

You'll pass through a variety of environments on your walk.  The trail begins with gravel, but eventually becomes a thinner dirt trail (around the time you pass Bridle Trail on your right) and sometimes a mud trail covered with thin boards.  Navigating the boards can be just a little tricky, as they are in pretty rough shape.

Rock slide.

The trail has blue blazes.

The end of Carriage Trail is Hardscrabble Point, featuring camping and even a primitive toilet!  Good times!

The way back is simply retracing your steps.

More boards.

You might even get lucky and see Maine's state bird, the adorable black-capped chickadee!

Overall, this is a very nice hike with lovely views throughout, and is a good way to explore the Kineo area if you're not confident in your ability to go all the way up the mountain.  Older people often explore this trail while their younger party members climb the Indian Trail.  The length may present a challenge to a very out-of-shape hiker, but you can of course turn around at any time.  I had no issues with it at four months pregnant, but I was definitely ready for a meal afterwards!

Keep on wandering.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Buck Pond Campground Trail - D&H Railroad Bed

Location: Buck Pond Campground, Onchiota, NY
Season Visited: Summer
Trail Length: 2.5 miles there-and-back
Time to Hike: 1.5 hours
Difficulty Level: 1

Buck Pond Campground in the Adirondacks is one of the few campgrounds I truly enjoy.  It's pretty far out there at the top of the Adirondack Park, and is therefore out of the main bustle of activity that surrounds places like Lake George or Placid.  Conveniently, it's still within easy driving distance of Placid, so food and entertainment are never too far away.  The campground itself is pretty much perfect.  It has spacious, wooded sites with relative privacy, it's nestled between two picturesque lakes, it has private trails from most campsites to the water, and it's quiet.  The only negative thing I have to say about it is that the water doesn't get very warm in the shower... or warm at all... brrrrr!

One of the best things about Buck Pond to a hiker, of course, is it's proximity to the trails.  The Adirondacks are a hiker's paradise, and I stayed at Buck Pond when making my epic ascent of Phelps Mountain in 2013.  Sean and I were looking for something much more mild one morning, so we decided to check out the easy trail along the old D&H railroad bed, part of which is housed in the campground.

Maps of the trail are not available beyond the campground map, which doesn't show more than just the beginning of it.  Since it's an easy trail, it didn't much matter to us whether or not we had a map... until we saw a poorly-marked side trail that apparently led to Little Haystack and were very curious if that was true!  We found out later from a campground worker that the trail did indeed lead to Little Haystack.  What I really want to know is whether or not you can get to the high peak Mount Haystack from there... bucket list!

Anyway, the hike begins on a blocked-off road in the campground as marked on the map, and continues in a straight line along Lake Kushaqua for 1.25 miles until hitting Lake Kushaqua/Mud Pond Road.

Start of the trail.

Lake Kushaqua.

The nice thing about this trail (and a real change of pace for me) is that it's nothing more than just a stroll.  There's no real objective here, you're just going for a walk in the woods with a lake view.  There's some nice things to see, and when you're done, you just turn around!

Common merganser and her babies.

Overall, this hike is super easy and is great for a stroll if you're staying in or around Buck Pond Campground.  It was a nice little distraction for me, but I personally can't wait until I hike my next high peak!  Keep on wandering.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Lewis Falls

Location: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Season Visited: Spring
Trail Length: 2 miles there-and-back
Time to Hike: 1.5 hours
Difficulty Level: 3

Last week I went with my husband and my friend to Shenandoah to check out a waterfall I hadn't seen before: Lewis Falls.  At 81', Lewis Falls is one of the taller waterfalls in the park, and is the fourth of the big, named waterfalls that I've seen there.  The hike was enjoyable on a warm, late afternoon and was also a bit of a workout!

On this map of the Big Meadows area, you can see Lewis Falls to the left.  We parked at the lot on the left going southbound on Skyline Drive, past mile marker 51.  From there we crossed Skyline Drive to the trailhead, which begins as a gravel fire road before becoming a dirt trail.

Gravel road.

On the way is a mysterious door (probably enclosing some sort of facility for all of the human activity around Big Meadows, but which caused much more imaginative speculation amongst our party), some non-potable water (well-marked), and a steady downhill trek to the falls and views.

Past this lookout point is the observation deck for the falls.  It offers a very nice view, though I decided to press on a bit and head down the ridge for a different perspective.  The falls are impressive and are a lovely photo op.

The way back is simply retracing your steps, though it is a bit harder going up than coming down!  I paid special attention to the little critters on the way back up.

Voyeuristic bug-mating photo.

Little lady on the gravel road.

A waterfall is always a fun reward for a hike.  With an hour-and-a-half of work, we saw some beautiful sights.  Keep on wandering!