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.