Abingdon, VA – Virginia Creeper Trail (Alvarado Station to Iron Horse)

First off, want you to know that Iron Horse is not an official parking area on the Virginia Creeper Trail. But, we had most of the family with us today (Jason, Kim, and Carter joined us), and didn’t want to do 7 miles from Alvarado to the Damascus parking area. I called the folks at Iron Horse Restaurant (which I THOUGHT was mid-ways), and they were very nice and had no problem with us parking at their barn.

So, I just guesstimate and tell family that I’m thinking that it will be a 3 mile walk. Well, it ended up being a 4.6 mile walk. I honestly thought that it was further from Iron Horse to Damascus, than 2 1/2 miles. I was really given a hard time over that.

But, we started out at Alvarado Station. Most of your time on this section of the trail, you are on private property. It is very important to stay on the trail. Lots of time is spent walking along the river. You eventually come to a nice meadow. Was pretty hot through that section without the trees. We all had picnic lunches packed into our backpacks and were looking for a place to picnic along the trail. Every picnic table we were seeing was in people’s yards. Finally, after going through the meadow, we came around the curve and there was a bench. We had our picnic lunch and moved on. We eventually crossed under Hwy 58. You then curve around and go by a recycling area, a sewage treatment plant (on a hot day…shew), and not far up the trail, we finally arrived at Iron Horse.

Here are a few photos from today’s walk. As usual, run cursor over photos for brief explanation.

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Price Lake (Milepost 297)

This weekend, I wanted to do waterfalls, and Steve wanted to do lakes. So, we did waterfalls yesterday, and today we are doing a lake for Steve.

Today we have decided to go up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and walk around Price Lake. Steve and I have walked around this lake a few times. We normally park at Price Lake and walk around the lake. But, today we had our picnic over at the Julian Price Picnic Area. Instead of driving over to Price Lake to walk around the lake, we walked over to Price Lake from the picnic area. You cross the little footbridge behind the restrooms, which is on Boone Fork Trail. From the picnic area, it’s about 1/2 mile or so where you will come to a path on the left that goes down a hill. At the bottom, you cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and walk into the Price Lake parking area closest to the bridge.

Price Lake loop is a pretty easy 2.3 mile loop around a nice mountain lake. Today was such a nice / enjoyable day. So many people were out on the lake in kayaks and canoes. Lots of people were on the loop for a nice walk (some with their dogs), or doing some fishing. As you walk around the back end of the lake, you start seeing signs of beaver activity. You then loop back around and eventually come out where they rent canoes.

Here are a few photos from today’s walk. Run your cursor over each photo for a brief description.

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Cedar Mountain, NC – Dupont State Forest (Triple Falls / High Falls)

I know what you’re asking yourself. You went to Triple and High Falls and not to Hooker Falls? Well, we tried. I thought only the parking area at Hooker Falls was closed. But, the trail to the falls was also closed. They are building a walking bridge across the river to prevent everyone from having to cross the road to get to Triple and High Falls. But, to what we DID do on Saturday.

We parked at the High Falls Access parking lot (and so did hundreds of other people). The trail starts at the back end of the parking area. Very nice trail in this area. Nice / flat / smooth crushed gravel. After approximately 1/3 of a mile, we came to an intersection where you could head to either of the falls. We took the trail to the left to Triple Falls. After approximately 2/3 of a mile, you get to the intersection where you can turn right to go to High Falls. Don’t turn right, but just walk a few feet further and look to the right. There is a stairway down to Triple Falls. And I mean lots of stairs. We spent some time photographing the falls and headed back up.

To take the 4/10 of a mile walk on to Hooker Falls, you turn right when you get to the top of the stairs. Mom saw the trail ahead and decided to wait on us at the stairs to Triple Falls. She could  tell that once she went down those stairs, that it may be a challenge getting back up those stairs. That was probably the right decision because you spend probably the next 1/4 of a mile or more going down a pretty steep hill. It finally levels off and you continue on to cross the road to go to Hooker Falls. Well, we get out to the main road, and guess what? Trail to Hooker Falls is closed. So, we turn around and huff and puff back up the very long hill to meet mom.

After we met back up with mom, we turned left and took the 2/3 of a mile walk to High Falls. When you arrive at the viewing area, you get a pretty good view of the120 foot waterfall. Wish some of the trees were cut down so you could have an amazing view. One of the photos following is the best that we could get of the falls, along with the covered bridge at the top of the falls.

After continuing on from here, we came across Covered Bridge Rd. We turned left and walked the .2 miles to the covered bridge. Very nice bridge. But, probably wouldn’t take that way if we went back. I mean, it’s a very nice bridge. But, when you looked towards High Falls, all you see is where the water drops over the ledge. That’s it.

So, when we were ready to head on to the car, we went straight on Buck Forest Road. After about 3/10 of a mile, we arrived at the parking area.

I hope you enjoy the photos of this little adventure. I’d say in all, that we probably walked about 3 1/2 miles. Run your cursor over each photo for a brief explanation.

Directions: From Johnson City, TN, take I-26 to Asheville. Continue on I-26 through Asheville until you come to the airport exit #40. After you exit, take a right. Take Hwy 280, 16 miles to Hwy 64. Turn left onto Hwy 64 and go about 3 1/2 miles and you’ll come upon a stoplight at Crab Creek Rd. Turn right and travel approximately 4 1/2 miles to Dupont Rd. Turn right onto Dupont. Eventually Dupont will become Staton Rd. The parking areas are very well signed. Watch for High Falls Access parking. You may be able to park in the parking lot. You may have to park on the main road.

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Johnson City, TN – My Baby’s College Graduation

Okay, I know that this is a blog for hiking. But, I do have a life outside of hiking.

Tonight I got to attend my youngest son’s college graduation. He graduated tonight from Northeast State with an Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology. When they asked everyone to stand up that was a first generation college graduate, he got to stand up. I attended DeVry University in Kansas City, MO. But, we ended up moving back to Tennessee and I never went back to college. Do I see myself ever going back? At this point in life, I don’t think so. As long as I’m able to move, I want to be out there walking / hiking.

Here are a few photos that is proud mama took from his night!

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Bristol, TN – Rooster Front Park

This evening, we were having a get together at our house. Celebrating both my son’s upcoming graduation from Northeast State, and Mother’s Day. Had a lot of preparing to do, but we still wanted to get out and do a walk. So, we headed back over to Rooster Front Park to do the 2 mile walk over to Steele’s Creek Park.

We were just over there in January. I posted some pictures from January during a snow melt. Since we’ve had a change in seasons and we’re now well into Spring, thought I’d share some of our Spring photos taking that same walk.

It was slightly chilly, but there were a lot of people on the trail today. People on bicycles, taking their dogs on walks, boating, fishing on the banks. Where we recently had some rain, the water level was high too. So, of course this made the waterfall enjoyable. We’ve been on this trail many times, but this is the first time I realized how large the Wetlands are. We could see a bunch of turtles resting on a fallen tree, but there were so many tree limbs obstructing the view, that we were unable to get any photos of them. The park only has 1 boardwalk to view the wetlands. Since the wetlands is a pretty large area, I wish they’d build a second boardwalk on the other side of the wetland area. But, in addition to that, today we saw quite a few butterflies, waterfowl, blooms, people.

Here are a few photos from today’s excursion.

Directions to Rooster Front Park: I’ll make the starting point Bristol Motor Speedway. Head north on Volunteer parkway approximately 3.7 miles. Turn left on Vance Drive. Park will be on your left in approximately 7/10 of a mile.

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Vernon Hills, IL – Half Day Forest Preserve / Captain Daniel Wright Woods Forest Preserve

This afternoon, we will head for O’Hare to fly back home. We didn’t have to leave for the airport until about 3:00, so we took a walk before heading out. We chose these 2 preserves that are connected for today’s walk.

We parked at Half Day Forest Preserve. We took a one mile gravel trail, which then took us into Captain Daniel Wright Woods Forest Preserve. In Half Day, it’s amazing at the # of picnic areas / tables that there are. The trail also passes a 3 acre pond. At the Half Day Preserve, it’s amazing how many different types of birds that there were. We captured a few as you will see below. After about a mile,  you then cross the Des Plaines River and enter Captain Daniel Wright Woods Forest Preserve. After a nice walk through the woods, you come upon another nice 3 acre pond. We circled the pond, and headed back towards Half Day.

Here are a few photos from this walk.

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Lake Forest, IL – Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

As stated in my previous post, we attended a memorial service today for Steve’s Aunt. After the memorial service and having lunch, Steve and I took off for today’s walk at this preserve.

The preserve is on the property of what was the Fort Sheridan Army Base from 1887 to 1993. It is a prairie that rests on a bluff above Lake Michigan. Went spent a little time down at the lake. We then went back up on the bluff and took a 2 mile mowed and wood chip trail around the preserve. On the east and west side of the preserve, there are deep ravines. As you get to the south end of the preserve, you come across Fort Sheridan Cemetery. Gravesites go back as far as the year 1890. You then wrap back around and head back towards the parking area.

Here are a few photos from this preserve trip.

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Mundelein, IL – Ray Lake Forest Preserve

Lake County, IL has many forest preserves. Today we took a 2.7 mile walk on a nice flat crushed gravel trail, around this preserve (Blue Loop).  We added a little onto our walk by taking the Green Trail, which takes you off of the crushed gravel trail, onto a mowed / green grass trail.  One thing I do have to say about Lake County’s forest preserves, is that they do a great job at marking their trails. You surely can’t get lost.

This particular preserve has wetlands, prairie, and a few boardwalks. Being from the mountains, we were amused on our walk when we arrived at a sign that stated “Caution – Steep Grade”. I guess for IL this would be a steep grade, but it was just a little / gradual hill that took you to one of the boardwalks. Probably a 6 foot change in elevation.

But, hope you enjoy a few photos from this preserve. I like to list addresses or directions, but I couldn’t locate an actual address for this preserve.

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Glencoe, IL – Chicago Botanic Gardens

Steve and I took a trip to the Chicago suburbs from 5/2 through 5/7. We went to visit his family in Grayslake, IL. On Sunday, we had a great Greek Easter as usual. On Monday, we attended a memorial service for his 95 year old Aunt Mary that passed away a couple of months ago. Then, of course we got out and did some walking.

Our first big walk of our trip occurred at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I wasn’t expecting this place to be as enormous as it was. We didn’t even get to see everything. They have 37 different gardens, including a beautiful Japanese garden, fruit and vegetable garden, waterfall garden, and of course many other garden themes. They had a model railroad garden that I would liked to have seen, but we just never made it through there.

I went a little crazy with the pictures. I didn’t title any of the pictures this go-round since I’m definitely not a flower expert. But, I hope you enjoy the blooms, birds, etc.

Chicago Botanic Gardens address: 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL

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