Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for July, 2009

Ridge Trail and Lake Trail at Hickory Run State Park

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

I had intended to go for a nice long bicycle ride on the 5th, but we enjoyed our hiking on the 4th so much that we decided to do some more hiking instead. I’ve been in a bit of a cycling rut anyway, and sometimes the best medicine is some time off the bike for other activities.

We got off to a bit of a late start and headed to Hickory Run State Park without much of a plan other than that we wanted to hike a couple of the shorter trails there. We managed to get into a bit of an argument. I wanted to hike the Ridge Trail (the other half of the Shades of Death trail we hiked previously), but Sarah told me to go ahead, she’d sit this one out in the car.


View Ridge Trail and Lake Trail at Hickory Run State Park 07/05/2009 in a larger map

Ridge Trail

I went ahead, a bit frustrated with the situation. As it turns out, when I’m upset, I hike a lot faster. I even ran a few parts, which was surprisingly fun. I say “surprisingly” because running is something I’ve never enjoyed. There might be some trail running in my future. Maybe.

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The Ridge Trail was pretty, but not as stunning as the other half of the Shades of Death trail. While that trail went deeper in the woods, this one stayed close to the road for a while, and climbed above it. The trail was quite narrow at times, and skirted the edge of a ravine.

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After a while, the trail spit me out by a dammed portion of Hickory Run. It was a strange dam in that it was designed to allow the water to flow over the road. A strange design, but I saw several vehicles safely maneuver it, including some SUVs but also a Mercedes sedan, the driver of which did not look amused.

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The trail climbed back up above the road and turned to go deeper into the forest. There was quite a bit of climbing and the trail got increasingly overgrown. The undergrowth varied from grasses to myrtle to ferns and various other plants. I saw a few more wild blueberries, but they weren’t ripe yet.

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The trail once again dropped down to the road, and this time it ended there. Here, Hickory Run had cut its way through lots of rock. The road was a small, one-lane “scenic drive” that would make for some excellent cycling. This would be worth exploring in the future.

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I turned back and shortly after passing the strange bridge, ran into Sarah. She had changed her mind and came to meet me. We patched things up and I took her to see Hickory Run, and the weird bridge. Then we headed back to the car. On the way back, we saw part of what was once a building, and a small hut with a spring coming out of it.

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Once back at the car, we decided we should head over and hike the Lake Trail.

Lake Trail

We had a little trouble finding the trailhead for the Lake Trail, and when we did, there was no parking there, even though the description said there would be. We managed to find a place to park a little ways down the wonderful gravel road.

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As you might expect, the trail took us to Hickory Run Lake. We walked over to get some views of the lake and then got back on the trail. We crossed an eerily-clear stream, passed through some woods, and sort of lost track of the trail. We walked around a bit trying to figure out where the trail was supposed to go. It just continued the way we had been going, but a lack of blazes made it unclear whether that was really where we were supposed to go.

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We had to turn at an intersection that wasn’t marked on the map, in order to stay on the trail. We saw a tree that had grown over an old stump, and lots of mountain laurel. The yellow blazes we had been following changed to orange reflectors.  We once again weren’t sure if we were in the right place, but eventually we reached the Stage Trail. The Lake Trail ended here and while we could have put together a loop with some other trails, we opted to head back. We stopped for some more views of the lake on our way back.

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The Lake Trail ended up not being much of a trail at all. I guess it’s mostly useful to access the lake, and not as great for hiking. The scenery was nice, though.

Over all, another day with over 4.5 miles of nice hiking. One of these days maybe we’ll get an earlier start and hike longer.

Hiking the Ganoga View trail at Ricketts Glen

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

On Independence Day, Sarah and I decided to go hiking at Ricketts Glen, a nearby state park. While the park is best known for its Falls Trail, with over 20 named waterfalls, and that trail is on our list of things to do before we leave PA, we chose to put together a loop with the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail and the Ganoga View Trail. Here’s a map of our hike.


View Ganoga View trail at Ricketts Glen 07/04/2009 in a larger map

The park was quite busy. I’ve only been there a few times before, but this was the busiest I’ve seen it. Not surprising, I suppose, given the holiday. Fortunately, the trails we chose had relatively few people on them.

We started out on the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail, which as its name suggests is an old fire road. The scenery was maily ferns, various hardwoods and pine trees, and the wide trail. There was a fair amount of mud, as well, but hiking was mostly easy.

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After a while, we saw a side trail with a sign saying 0.3 miles to the Falls Trail, and a view of Ganoga Falls. Despite the fact that we were largely avoiding the Falls Trail, we decided it couldn’t hurt to go check it out. The trail dropped a couple hundred feet rather steeply. The Falls Trail was very busy, as we expected, but the waterfall was impressive. My photos don’t really do it justice, apparently Ganoga Falls is the highest waterfall there, at 94 feet. We did not make the trek down to the bottom of the falls. We’ll go back sometime and hike the Falls Trail in its entirety.

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We made our way back up and got on the Ganoga View trail. The trail was grassy and a bit overgrown in places. I wore shorts, but that might not have been the best choice, given all the brush we had to walk through. We crossed a few streams and saw lots of mountain laurel, much of it in bloom.

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Sarah asked me to sit on a rock so she could take my picture. As I sat there, on a rock, surrounded by ferns, I noticed wild blueberries growing all around. Only some of them were ripe, but those that were ripe were quite delicious. A great find.

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This trail was a little more difficult than the old fire road; it was a bit rocky and was somewhat overgrown. And we were climbing for quite a while. But overall, it wasn’t terribly strenuous. There weren’t really any mountain views, but there might be during the winter. Still, it was a very beautiful hike through the woods. Some even denser ferns nearly enveloped the trail.

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We hiked about 4.6 miles. It was a great way to celebrate the holiday, and we managed to avoid the crowds that were on the Falls Trail. I look forward to going back and hiking that sometime. It’s long and difficult, so that will be a different experience altogether. But with 22 waterfalls, it should be worth it.

Storms

Monday, July 6th, 2009

We had some impressive storms on Friday. My wife and I spent some time on the other side of town, on a mountain overlooking the valley, and we had amazing views of some thunderclouds, some up high and some hovering low, over the valley. Yet at the same time, other parts of the sky were blue.

We went for a drive and as we were headed up Bunker Hill Road, one of my usual cycling routes, the road was blocked and we suddenly had to stop. We later learned that there was a mudslide, and some trees had been knocked over by the storm. I sure am glad I wasn’t out riding there at the time!

Later, the rain stopped and the sun came out, and we were on the lookout for rainbows. As we drove up a big hill, sure enough, we spotted part of a beautiful rainbow.

Rainbow

We continued our drive, and I took her on the route I rode the previous weekend. That’s something we’ve taken to doing. A lot of times if we feel like going for a drive, I’ll take Sarah and show her a route I’ve ridden. It’s great to be able to share the places I find with her, even though she isn’t into cycling. And I always see things a bit differently, too.

We saw a lot of beautiful scenery that day, but the rainbow was the highlight of our trip.

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