Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Landscape Arch

Where: Arches National Park
Trail: Landscape Arch
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
Adventure Rating: 2 Stars
Pets: no

Even though the adventure rating is only a 2, it's still an awesome hike with a great view. The day we went, it was crazy windy at Arches NP. It was especially windy in the beginning part of the trail, where you walk through all narrow "hallway" of rock. Once we were out of that, the wind settled down considerably. It was an easy hike starting at the Devil's Garden Trailhead. The trail is well marked and easy to navigate with some uphill areas, but nothing too strenuous.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Zion National Park

Where: Zion National Park
Trail: Emerald Pools Trails to the Kayenta Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.6 miles
Adventure Rating: 4 Stars
Pets: no

We took the shuttle from the Visitor Center to the Zion Lodge. Across the from the lodge, we crossed the bridge over the Virgin River and began the Lower Emerald Pool Trail. The Lower Pool was my favorite. The brilliant green of the foliage and the light green of the pools was beautiful.

We continued on up the steep trail (there are many steps carved in the rock) to the Middle Pool, which was very small. It's chained off because it's very dangerous. Foolish people have crossed the chain and stood in the pool, which is very slick, and slipped and slid over the edge, plummeting to the lower pool and their death. There is no swimming in the pools for very good reason.

After yet another steep climb and a bit of rock scrambling, we made it to the Upper Pool. When it's not crowded, it's a great place to sit and relax from the hike. Stop a moment and just listen to nature.

We hiked back down the upper trail and then took the Kayenta Trail. The trail has moderate drop-offs, but overall is less strenuous than the pools trails. There is a more gradual decline down the mountain. It offers spectacular views of the Court of the Patriarchs and the other surrounding peaks.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Whiteoak Canyon at Shenandoah National Park

Where: Shenandoah National Park
Trail: Cedar Run, Cedar Run Link, Whiteoak Canyon Trails
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2 miles (I think)
Adventure Rating: 3 Stars
Pets: Allowed on some trails 

Originally, we planned to hike the Whiteoak Canyon Trail to the Whiteoak  Fire Road to the Cedar Run Trail, beginning at the Whiteoak Canyon parking lot. That hike is 7.9 miles, and after 3 days of hiking in various locations, we decided we weren't really up for that (especially since we thought it was only 6 miles).

Instead, we hiked a short ways on the Cedar Run Trail until we hit the Cedar Run Link Trail, then we took that over to the Whiteoak Canyon Trail. We hiked up that to the Lower Whiteoak Falls and then hiked the Whiteoak Canyon Trail back to the parking lot.

This is where the Cedar Run Link meets up with the Whiteoak Canyon Trail.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Coopers Rock State Forest

Where: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trail: Underlook, Rattlesnake, Rock City, Ridge, Mont Chateau, Clay Run...
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5.5 miles (I think)
Adventure Rating: 4 Stars
Pets: not sure...

First, let me just say that the trail markers aren't very good. Originally, we were supposed to hike the following trails: Underlook, Rattlesnake, Rock City, Rhododendren, Eagle, then take the road to the stone stairs, and finally to the Overlook Trail. We definitely hiked the first three trails and then I don't know what happened. As far as we can ascertain, we ended up on the Ridge Trail and then on the Mont Chateau Trail. I believe the last trail we were on was the Clay Run Trail, but I don't know for sure. What I do know was that briefly, we were lost in the mountains of West Virginia. So, it was only natural for us to decide to take a short cut--which actually worked out. Unfortunately, the shortcut was across an open area that was hot and sunny, as well as covered with thorn bushes. We got a little scratched up and I fell off a tree, but other than that, it was awesome.

We started out at the Coopers Rock Overlook, where I saw a bald eagle for the first time (in the wild). Then we headed down the Underlook Trail, which went below the overlook. The Rattlesnake Trail and Rock City Trail were very cool, with lots of rock scrambling.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Buttermilk Falls at Cuyahoga Valley NP

Blue Hen Falls
Where: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Trail: Unmarked Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: ?
Adventure Rating: 4 Stars
Pets: Allowed on leash

We parked at Blue Hen Falls, which were very cool. Originally, we were going to hike to them from the Boston Store Visitor Center, but we ended up just parking there. I found a website that mentioned Buttermilk Falls and knew we had to check it out. It's not marked on any maps that I could find, but if you hike downstream from Blue Hen Falls, you'll find it. There is a rough unmarked trail heading that direction, but we spent most of our time walking on the rocks along the stream. The water was shallow enough that we could cross back and forth across it. It was way fun.
Buttermilk Falls

The linked website says that you should visit Brandywine Falls before spending time on this one. If you're judging the falls on size, then sure, I guess they are right. However, I completely disagree with this statement. I found the Brandywine falls so uninteresting that I didn't even take a picture of them. Nor did we bother to do the hike. The Buttermilk Falls might not be amazing, but the adventure of finding them was amazing. I say don't even bother with Brandywine.

Ritchie Ledges at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Where: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Trail: Ledges Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2 mile loop
Adventure Rating: 3 Stars
Pets: Allowed on leash

We started at the parking lot and hiked 0.2 miles to the first fork in the trail. We took a right, hiking 0.3 miles to the Ledges Trail, just south of the Ice Box Cave. We hiked past the cave, going north until we came to the steps that cut across the top of the Ledges Trail. After that, we hiked south to the overlook. From there, we hiked north on the connector trail and then cut across the field to the parking lot. I think the whole trip lasted about 2 hours, but probably because we stopped a lot to climb on rocks and explore off trail. It was definitely an awesome short hike.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Red Rock Canyon

Where: Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada
Trail: Calico Tanks Trail
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
Adventure Rating: 4 Stars
Pets: Allowed on leash

We paid the entrance fee and started the drive back (it's a one-way loop). As we drove past all the beautiful red rock that gives the park its name, I began to wonder if I had selected the right trail for us. And then we parked in the Sandstone Quarry lot and I just knew I had picked the wrong trail. The area was flatter and there was far less rock. Certainly not the mountainous boulders we'd just passed. Thankfully we decided to try it anyway. I am so glad we did. The hike was awesome!

The beginning of the trail is well-marked, but once you get into the rocks, it's harder to find, which makes it more fun. And anyway, there came a point when we quit the trail altogether and just climbed from boulder to boulder. Even though dogs are allowed on the trail, we didn't encounter very many, probably due to the amount of climbing we had to do. Our little dogs loved it. They are adventurous as we are. At the end of the trail, there is a view of the mountains and Las Vegas. If I'm ever in Vegas again, I am definitely hiking Red Rock again.