Tag Archives: state park

A park run by a state government, usually much smaller than national parks or a wildlife refuge.

Beacon Rock July 2018

Beacon Rock

The weather had finally started to change and I wanted to get out for a hike before things got to hot. I mentioned this to Tracy and we ended up doing a hike with Ellie to Beacon Rock. I was thinking Silver Falls State Park to the south but because of logistics we decided that was not the best park. I was able to hike this park on my way down to see SCI so it all worked out.

The park is only 40 minutes or so from Vancouver and it is right on the highway. The parking lot and trail head are steps apart. This is a well maintained path that while steep at times, almost everyone can complete this hike. Plenty of railings to hold onto. It is interesting seeing how they engineered the trail and all the barriers. There are even a couple of footpath bridges which are really cool. Lots of bent railing speak to the ever changing mountain.

Nice hike up the side of the mount with a ton of switchbacks. Its the only reasonable way you can get up there otherwise it is to steep. Once at the top you get some great views of the valley below. The time of day we went the sun was bouncing off the water and it was bright as crap. Still an impressive hike to a really close park. Once we climbed down the mount we continued to the day use park and the boat launch along the water.

You actually walk downstairs to the brewery.

During the hike we worked up an appetite and headed to Walking Man Brewing in the near by town of Stevenson. I had been here once before many years ago when visiting. It was just like I remember. Some really good beer and creative food which was all very good. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and had lunch on the patio.

A great hike that is rather close to the house. There is another hike close by that goes up another mountain and offers even better views of the valley. I will have to try this trail next time.

 

Trail of Ten Falls July 2018

North Falls

Some hikes I randomly stumble across can end up being really good. Another chunk of new hikes I learn about come from recommendations from others or me seeing it online for example. Silver Falls State Park I found from of all places as a Microsoft logon background one day at work. The picture was one of its many beautiful waterfalls with this huge cave cut out behind it. It was so green and looked really peaceful. I don’t remember which waterfall this was but there are several that it could have been. After seeing this picture and knowing it was so close I had to make it down.

I started at the western side of the park near South Falls Day Use area. The map was a little confusing but I ended up taking the Rim Trail all the way to the North Falls and then cut across the North Fork Silver Creek to the Canyon Trail. This I took all the way down the creek till I got to the South Falls which was the final stop before the parking lot. Not knowing any better, taking this route ended up being a good starting point and direction around the loop.

The Rim Trail follows a bike path and the road for most of the its journey north. You are up on the ridge with only a few break out views. Unfortunately you can’t see much of the valley below. At one spot you can hear the waterfall below but not actual see it. There are no waterfalls or much besides the forest on this part of the trail. After a couple of miles the first stop is North Falls which for me were the best waterfall in the park. It had the largest and deepest cave cut out of any of the waterfalls. It is not the tallest but still all around the most impressive of the bunch in my opinion.

The North Falls are the first good stop on the trail. Because of how things are so cut out in the cave there is a raised seating area along the back wall. This is where I took the opportunity to have lunch. Even though there were a dozen people in the cave all I could hear was the water splashing down below. The cave took that sound and amplified it, drowning out all the conversations. I really felt close to nature sitting there with all my senses going crazy.

From the North Falls you head into the valley and walk along the North Fork Silver Creek for several miles. It was already a nice day but on the Rim Trail it was easily 10 degrees hotter then along the water. This was a nice change of pace with the cooler temperatures. This is certainly a moderate hike. No serious climbs but it certainly goes up and down quite a lot. Its also a very busy trail so that adds to the effort getting around everyone. Nice thing is this trail is mostly covered. I would say 90-95% of the hike is in the shade which is awesome.

As I headed down the Canyon Trail this is where the meat of the waterfalls are, which makes sense. It really is just one after the other. Some are more impressive then others. For instance there are at least three of the waterfalls with huge cave cutouts behind the falls and trail behind them. First time I have walked behind a waterfall and it was pretty cool seeing it from that perspective. To me the North Falls was still the best one. It was the first one I saw and the best in the park.

South Falls

I started hiking at 10:30 and if anything I should have gotten there just a little earlier. The timing worked out really well for getting to Eugene and seeing String Cheese Incident. Not so good for having a quite trail or day use area. Along the Canyon Trail the closer I got to the South Falls Day Use area the more people I started running into going the opposite direction. Its not an easy hike and is over 7 miles so not a short one either. I just didn’t expect this many people out on the trail. But then again it was a really nice weekend and this is probably one of the busiest parks in the system. They actually had volunteers at major intersections helping hikers who were lost or didn’t have a map. I found it shocking all these inexperienced and unprepared people hiking this trail.

This is a great day hike trip activity. 1.5 hours from Portland, 3.5-4 hour loop hike and at the end you can picnic in the park. Then another 1.5 hours home before the sunsets with plenty of time to relax with a movie. This first time I did the Trail of Ten Falls to knock if off my list but looking at the map there are plenty of other trails to explorer at Silver Falls State Park.

The Battle of New Market 153 Years Later

When my brother and I were young my dad would take us on these weekend excursions to Civil War battlefields.  Never really sure if this was a hobby of his or just something he thought would be cool to do with his two sons.  For whatever reason we went to many battle fields over the years and it stuck with me.  Not so much the love of the Civil War but the love of traveling and getting the most out of a vacation.  A vacation should be relaxing but it can also be educational as well.  These trips I think help sparked my curiosity and love of learning.

When I was traveling down to Asheville for The New Mastersounds and beer I found a few spots on the side of the road that looked interesting.  One of them was the Virginia Museum of the Civil War in New Market.  When I finally got around to checking out their website I noticed they had their annual reenactment later in May.  I asked my brother initially on Mother’s Day if he wanted to go.  I thought it would be something cool to do with him and the kids.  He initially said no but by late in the week he was on board but keeping the kids at home.

The park had activities all day but we only cared about the reenactment which was happening at 1 in the open field.  Almost on the dot we hear the loud boom of the cannons signaling the start of the battle.  It was really cool how they played it all out.  They stated way off to the left of the field and battled initially with little forces right in the middle of the tall grass.  The battle progressed just like they would have in the real battle, just on a smaller scale.

Different phases of the battle raged around the structures, the orchard, open field and tree line.  Eventually the Confederates charge the Union line breaking it and winning the battle.  This is certainly over simplified but the end result is the same. It was really cool seeing all the people firing the guns and acting in real life what could have happened all those years ago.

All in all it was a solid hour of reenacting which was great.  With the black powder guns and the humidity in the air the smoke would just hang covering the field of battle. I can’t imagine a humid summer day wearing a heavy wool uniform with thousands of guns firing. In the end the VMI cadets make a valiant charge to capture a Union artillery battlement.

It was a long drive out the museum so after the battle we didn’t stay long.  We went up to the museum for a few minutes to walk around.  Saw part of a documentary about the battle while we cooled off.  We were so tired from standing outside and me double so because of the previous late night before.

As an adult I have never been in to reenactments.  Seeing one now not much has changed from when I was a kid.  Now the crowds are smaller and I think the participants are becoming older and fewer.  If you haven’t been, I recommend going at least once before they themselves fade away into history.

 

First Landing State Park July 2014

bald cypress
some of the bald cypress in the swamp

Photo Gallery

Earlier in the day I was disappointed with the Eastern Short park so went here to get a better hike in.  I wasted a lot of time at the other park but it was alright.  It just took longer than I wanted to travel to and from.  I at least knew First Landing would have a lot more trails to choose from, something I could spend several hours hiking.

This forest was much denser with lots of trees.  You could tell it was near a beach as most of the trail soil was sand.  Still hard to imagine all the trees this close to the ocean.  There were also shallow swamps areas as well with bald cypress trees.

first_land_july_2014-11All the hiking and I had worked up quite an appetite.  I found a local beer joint called Tapped Ghastropub in Virginia Beach.  I really wanted to just sit and have a couple of craft beers and this place was exactly what I was looking for.  I arrived well after lunch so it was pretty empty except for two others, one of whom was a business traveler.

When I finally made it to the venue I can’t tell you how great it felt to sit down for a while.  I would spend the rest of the night standing but at least before the show I could relax and get my energy back before rocking to a great Phish show.

York River State Park July 2014

york_river_july_2014-10Photo Gallery

York River State Park I more or less found by accident while driving to Portsmouth for the first of two shows at the nTelos Pavilion.  I got a late start because I needed to get my car inspected but thankfully Portsmouth isn’t that far from my house.  At first I thought about heading straight to First Landing State Park but that meant passing the hotel to get there so I decided against it.  I was driving down 64 looking at parks on my phone and stumbled across York River.  I didn’t have any information on it but it looked large enough that it should have several miles of trails, it was along the water so that was a bonus.

york_river_july_2014-07I was very surprised when I arrived at this park and started exploring.  First off it was much bigger than I had expected with 10’s of miles of trails to explorer.  Most trails are open to hiking but there are also dedicated trails for mountain biking and others for horse back riding.  A small section of the park also takes you along the water with a small sandy beach.  I forget the name of this beach but apparently they have dug up fossils as they remind everyone that taking anything from parks is illegal.

This park has some great hiking available.  For the most part, the elevation changes are gradual except when you get close to the water.  The paths are well maintained, wide enough to accommodate all the traffic.  Being the middle of the week it was empty with most people that I saw near the entrance enjoying the playgrounds and open fields.  Other than that I mostly ran into joggers and bikers but no hikers.  There are some great marsh shots along the water with dense forest inland.  One path I found near the bottom of the park takes you to an observation point along the marsh land.  If it wasn’t for the mosquitoes bothering me and find ticks crawling all over my legs, I could have spent a lot more time here just looking out towards the water.

The observation post along the river.
The observation post along the river.

I can certainly see coming back to this park to enjoy another long hike.  The scenery is nice and I like the changes from dense forest to marsh and the river.  This allows for a wide range of photos to be taken while hiking.  It is also nice that it can accommodate many different types of outdoor activities besides hiking which sometimes is hard to find in parks.  Well worth the $3 entrance fee that was on the honor system since the booth was unmanned while I was there.