Blackwater Falls State Park and Douglas Falls

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Blackwater Falls (57 feet high)

Blackwater Falls (57 feet high)

If you love amazing views and the perfection of falling water then you need to check this place out!  There is so much beauty to be absorbed by your pretty little eyeballs in West Virginia, so I highly recommend you plan a trip to this area.

My timing was a bit off, otherwise I would have made it to the state’s high point during daylight hours, but I did manage to see some great views and some gorgeous waterfalls.  And I came at the perfect time of year, to see the changing colors of all the leaves, but views like the ones at Blackwater Falls State Park can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

And I know I didn’t go to every overlook, or hike every trail, but I got a good taste of what this area has to offer and I will be going back to this exact location during my walk across the country.  There is a TON of natural beauty to explore, in and outside of the park’s limits, so give yourself plenty of time to absorb it all.

But enough out of me, check out the beauty yourself through the video below…

HOW DO YOU GET HERE?

If you would like to check out Blackwater Falls in Davis, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for the directions to the parking lot, above the falls.  There is plenty of parking, bathrooms and food provided here.

If you would like to check out the Pendleton Overlook and Pendleton Falls in Davis, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for directions to the parking lot, right next to overlook.  Once again, there is plenty of parking and it’s only a short hike to the waterfall.

If you would like to check out Elakala Falls in Davis, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for directions to the parking lot, right outside of the lodge.  Again, there is plenty of parking and it’s a short hike to the waterfalls.

If you would like to check out Lindy Point in Davis, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for directions to the parking lot, right beside the trail.  There isn’t a lot of parking here, but you can park on the side of the road if you need to, and it’s not that long of a hike to the vista.

And if you would like to check out Douglas Falls in Thomas, West Virginia then CLICK HERE for approximate directions to where you’ll park.  You will want to turn onto a gravel road called Rail Falls Road, which is marked with a green road sign, but drive slowly because there are a lot of potholes.  If you don’t have four-wheel drive, then just park your car on the side of the road whenever you don’t feel comfortable driving any farther.  It won’t be too long of a walk to the falls, but you will cross a bridge that looks like it’s constructed out of railroad ties and you want to keep going until you come to a gate, and then Douglas Falls is down the bank to the left.

HELPFUL TIPS

At Blackwater Falls they have a boardwalk, with a couple overlooks, so you won’t be able to walk right up to the base of the falls without breaking some rules.

But you will be able to get up close and personal with Pendleton Falls.  Just stick to the Pendleton Trace Trail, marked in blue, and go past a dammed area and over a wooden bridge.  Then, off to the left, you’ll see a small stack of rocks beside a trail and you should hear the falls in the distance.  Take that trail down the bank, but be careful because it can get a little tricky.  You’ll be able to see the falls from up top and the base.  And, if you check out the Pendleton Overlook, be careful around the edge of the gorge because some of the overlook locations don’t have any railing to keep you from going over the edge.

But the trail to Elakala Falls is clearly visible off to the left of the lodge parking lot and you’ll know you’re in the right place whenever you cross a wooden bridge.  Why?  Because you just walked over the top of the falls!  You can climb down the bank to see it up close, but there are actually three more sections to this waterfall, which are a little harder to get to.  So, if you want to see it in its entirety, then be prepared to slowly creep down the gorge, off the beaten path.

And there is a observation deck at Lindy Point, but there are side trails that allow you to walk right out onto the rocks, so be careful near the edge.

But don’t get confused when you’re looking for Douglas Falls, because there are a couple small waterfalls before you get to the true falls.  The first one is wide and falls a decent height but the rocks aren’t quite red at this point, and you’re looking for the reddish rocks, which mining helped color.  The second fall you’ll come across is really short, but now you’ll start to see the reddish rocks.  But you don’t want to stop walking, or driving, until you come to a gate, and you’ll hear the falls off to the left.  You’ll want to be careful on the rocks, but you will be glad you came down this rough road, outside of the park, to find this gem.

WANT MORE?

But if that wasn’t enough for you then check out the official site for Blackwater Falls State Park, here: http://www.blackwaterfalls.com

And if you’d rather not have me interrupt your viewing pleasure, then here’s the instrumental version of the video:

And here are some more pictures…

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Mohonk Mountain House and the Highest Point in Connecticut

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Garden at Mohonk Mountain House

Garden at Mohonk Mountain House

If you love outdoorsy resorts and climbing to new heights then you’re going to want to check this out!  This time around, I decided to take in two different views, in two different states, in two very different locations.

The first location is called the Mohonk Mountain House, which is a castle-like hotel on a cliff, in front of a lake.  It’s a really fancy resort and there are trails all over the place, but the views you can get of the hotel and cliffs are amazing.  It’s quite the hidden gem in Upstate New York.

But the second location is found on a backroad in Connecticut.  Oh yes, I tackled yet another state high point, and this one goes by the name of Mount Frissell.  It was a confusing high point, and you don’t actually go to the peak of Mount Frissell (because that’s in Massachusetts), but it was an interesting challenge that I’m glad I went through.

But take a few minutes and watch the video below to see what treasures await you at these two locations…

HOW DO YOU GET HERE?

If you want to check out the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, then CLICK HERE for directions to where I started my hike.  The green arrow points to the parking lot for people who have purchased a day pass, in order to check out the resort’s grounds.  If you are staying at the hotel, you will of course be parking a lot closer.  There are also shuttle buses that will take you closer to the hotel, if you don’t want to hike.

If you want to check out Connecticut’s high point in Salisbury, Connecticut, then CLICK HERE for directions to where you should park.  The green arrow points to the parking lot, off to the right of the gravel road.  If you turn on the satellite view on Google Maps and zoom in to just above the state line, just north of where the green arrow is, you can see where the trail starts, off to the left of the road.  In fact, you can pretty much follow the trail all the way up to the rocky top, with the satellite view.

HELPFUL TIPS

I just want to warn you that it does cost $25 (at least when I went) to hike around the Mohonk Mountain House, and if you think that’s bad then check out the room rates.  But I honestly think it’s worth it, because there is so much to explore, on land and in water.  And they will provide you with a map, so that you know where everything is, and you can ride their shuttle for free.  Some trails are difficult, but the main trails are really easy to hike and you’ll love seeing all the views, bodies of water and gardens.  And an interesting rumor is also floating around that this hotel was the inspiration for the hotel in The Shining, since Stephen King is said to frequently stay at the hotel.

And, to help dilute some of the confusion about Connecticut’s high point, you first want to start just north of the state line, right after you see the concrete marker.  It’s hard to miss and your trail starts off to the left, which is marked with red blazes.  There is more than one way to hike to the top, but this is how I made it there.  Now, not far down the trail, you will want to make another left and continue to follow the red blazes.  The trail will slowly start climbing and then you will have to scale some rocks, so make sure you have some sturdy boots that have traction.

You will eventually make it up to the top of a rocky mountain, see some great views and possibly think you’ve made it to the high point… you haven’t!  What you are on at this point is called Round Mountain, and you will need to continue on the trail to the right.  Yes, the trail does actually go downhill, but you have a longer climb ahead of you soon.  Once you tackle the second rocky climb, you will come to a fork in the trail.  If you go to the right, you can sign the log book and think you’ve made it to the high point… you haven’t, yet!  Go ahead and sign the log book, then head back the trail the other way (as if you turned left at the fork), and before long you’ll come upon a pile of rocks and a metal pole, stuck in a rock.

This is another Connecticut/Massachusetts border marker, but it also marks Connecticut’s high point.  It’s odd that they don’t mention anywhere on the marker that it’s the high point, but it definitely is.  And sadly for me, as you can see in the video, it started raining hard by the time I got to the top.  So, I feel bad but the log book got soaked before I could get it back in the box, but it happens, and I made it through all of the confusion so that you don’t have to be so confused.

WANT MORE?

If that wasn’t enough for you then check out the official site for the Mohonk Mountain House, here: http://www.mohonk.com/

And if you’d like to check out the instrumental video, while avoiding my face popping into the picture, then check out that video below…

And here are some more pictures…

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Golden Eagle Trail

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

View near Raven's Horn

View near Raven’s Horn

If you love taking long hikes to awesome mountain views, then you’re going to want to check out this trail!

Now, this trail has been called “the best day hike in Pennsylvania” and, while I would probably give that title to the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park, this is one trail you should definitely explore.  In fact, this was my second time attempting to hike this trail, because the first time my friend and I ended up hiking up someone’s driveway, instead of the trail.  So, the first time, we only managed to hike a small portion of trail, but the second time I was a bit more successful.

I went alone, I saw slithering creatures, came across many hikers and saw some amazing views.  But you can tap into almost everthing I saw by watching the video below…

HOW DO YOU GET HERE?

If you’d like to hike the Golden Eagle Trail in Cammal, Pennsylvania then CLICK HERE for directions to where you’re going to want to park.  Once you park in the parking area, just cross the road and you’ll see a big sign for the start of the trail.  Parking is free and there’s usually plenty of room.

HELPFUL TIPS

The Golden Eagle trail is a little bit over a 9 mile hike, so you’ll definitely want to be wearing some comfortable boots, have plenty of water and probably bring some food with you.  Depending on what time of year you come, you might have to cross a small “run” of water, but I went in the late summer and there really wasn’t much water to been seen.  But, I would recommend that you hike the trail in a clockwise pattern, so that you can get your legs warmed up  for the steep incline and save the best view for last.

And you will want to watch for snakes, because I came across a timber rattlesnake and a garter snake, neither of which did me any harm.  The timber rattlesnake was down in the lower part of the trail and stayed curled up as I walked by.  It didn’t rattle, move or anything, so don’t worry about them trying to attack you; they will more than likely make some noise and try to get away.  And the garter snake was almost up near the top of Raven’s Horn, just slithering down the trail beside me… nothing to worry about with this one.

WANT MORE?

If that wasn’t enough for you, then check out the site that feels it’s the best day hike in PA, here: http://www.pahikes.com/trails/golden-eagle-trail/119-golden-eagle-trail-best-day-hike-in-pennsylvania

And if you’d like to travel the trail through the magic of video, without my face popping up, then watch the instrumental version below:

And here are some more pictures:

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Highest Point in New Jersey and Manitoga

Friday, July 20th, 2012

 

Looking up, from the bottom to the top of the 220 foot monument at the Highest Point in New Jersey (1,803 feet)

Looking up, from the bottom to the top of the 220 foot monument at the Highest Point in New Jersey (1,803 feet)

If you love summiting high points or walking through calm, wooded areas then you’re going to want to check this out!  This time around, I managed to check another high point off my list (New Jersey) and to check out a man-made forest, constructed by Russel Wright.

Since I started out my hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail, I came across many hikers on my way up to the 1,803 summit.  It was a rocky and strenuous climb but the views are always worth it, even if I did climb 290 steps (after the hike) to see things from the top of the monument.

And I’m glad that designer Russel Wright, took it upon himself to restore his 75 acres, which had been ruined by logging and quarrying, because it’s such a peaceful and protected area today.  Other than a few sets of stone stairs or walkways, you probably won’t even realize that Wright had a hand in bringing things back to life, in a natural way.

But, why don’t you watch the video below and tag along with me on my trip?

HOW DO YOU GET HERE?

If you want to check out New Jersey’s high point, in Sussex, by hiking up to it then CLICK HERE for directions to where you’re going to want to park.  You can park here for free (avoiding the entrance fee) for about 12 hours, and there are bathrooms and drinking fountains right next to the parking lot.  In fact, you’re parking next to the state park office, which is only open from 9 AM to 4 PM, so it’s probably a good idea to move your car before 4 PM.

And if you’d like to check out Russel Wright’s Manitoga, in Garrison, New York, then CLICK HERE for directions to the driveway you want to drive up.  There is a sign along side the road (pictured below) which will let you know that you’re turning up the right driveway, and there’s a parking lot at the end of the drive.

HELPFUL TIPS

When hiking to New Jersey’s high point, you’re going to want to be wearing some sturdy boots, and have some water with you.  It’s only about a mile to the summit, but the trail is really rocky and it can take a toll on your feet.  As to be expected, when summiting a high point, there’s also a bit of an incline, especially at the end.  And there is a trail at the viewing platform on the Appalachian Trail that goes to the beach… you want to ignore that trail and continue on the trail just a little farther until you see a trail that is marked with green blazes: that’s the trail you take to the monument.  And the actual high point marker is in front of the monument, past the pavement, attached to one of the rocks in the open area.

But if you really want to climb up into the 220′ monument, at the high point, then you’re going to want to come at the following times…

  • Memorial Day weekend to June 24th: 8:30 AM – 4 PM (weekends and holidays only)
  • June 25th to Labor Day: 8:30 AM to 4 PM (daily)
  • Labor Day to Columbus Day: 9:15 AM to 4:45 PM (weekends and holidays only)

But in all honesty, all you can do at the top of the monument is look out some small, closed windows and the view isn’t much different from up there.  So, if climbing about 290 steps isn’t too appealing to you, or you just came at the wrong time, then don’t worry; you didn’t miss much.  But there are some historical displays in the base if you want to check them out.

And the three trails at Manitoga are pretty easy, and not too long, so you might be alright without hiking boots or water bottles there.  I’d recommend you check out the Lost Pond and the second view up top, and be prepared to see some wildlife along the way.  There really isn’t a fee to hike here, and it’s open daily (during daylight hours), but there is a suggested donation of $5.  So, do what I did, and hike the trail first and if you enjoyed yourself then feel free to donate.  And you can also purchase tickets for guided tours through Wright’s home and studio, which are beautifully designed to merge perfectly with their natural surroundings.

WANT MORE?

If that wasn’t enough for you, then check out the official site for New Jersey’s high point: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/highpoint.html

And check out the official site for Manitoga: http://www.russelwrightcenter.org

And you can even check out the instrumental video, without my face popping up in the screen:

And here are some more pictures:

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Finger Lakes Waterfalls

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Hector Falls (165 feet high)

Hector Falls (165 feet high)

If you love waterfalls then you absolutely HAVE to head to upstate New York and check out the waterfalls around the Finger Lakes!  I had already seen the waterfalls at Letchworth State Park and Watkins Glen but I soon realized that there were quite a few waterfalls that I had missed.

And I’m not talking about tiny trickles of water, here and there, I’m talking about a handful of full-on raging waterfalls, that fall from heights taller than your house!  So, I had to go back up and see them all in one shot… which isn’t that hard to do, since they are all within 20 or so minutes of each other.  And after this trip, I can honestly say that if you love the climate of the northeast and you love waterfalls then you should think about moving to the Finger Lakes region.

I think you’ll soon agree, after you watch this video of my trip:

HOW DO YOU GET HERE?

If you want to check out Eagle Cliff Falls in Montour Falls, New York then CLICK HERE to see a map that shows you exactly where to go.  There are plenty of places to park in that loop, and there are also bathrooms, playgrounds and places to have an outdoor feast.

If you want to check out She-Qua-Ga Falls in Montour Falls, New York then CLICK HERE to see a map that shows you exactly where to go; I told you they were close together. 😉  You’ll have to park along the street to see this one, but even on the weekends it doesn’t seem hard to find a parking spot.

If you want to check out Hector Falls in Burdett, New York then CLICK HERE to see a map of where you can park.  You can pull into the place shown on the map, or park along the road, but be careful; it’s a busy road!

If you want to check out Taughannock Falls, from above, in Trumansburg, New York then CLICK HERE to see a map that will direct you to the overlook.  There’s a huge parking lot here, where you can see the falls from above.

If you want to check out the Upper Falls in Taughannock Falls State Park then CLICK HERE to see a map that will direct you to the overlook.  There’s a smaller parking lot here where you can see the falls from above.

But if you want to hike the Gorge Trail, and see Taughannock Falls from the base, you’ll want to CLICK HERE to see a map that will direct you where to start.  There are big parking lots on either side of the road, bathrooms and signs that will direct you where to go.

If you want to check out Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, New York then CLICK HERE to see where to park.  There’s plenty of parking, vending machines and bathrooms here.

If you want to check out Lucifer Falls in Newfield, New York then CLICK HERE to see where to park.   There’s plenty of parking, vending machines and bathrooms here too.

And if you want to finish out your trip like I did, and check out the Lower Falls at Robert H. Treman State Park, then CLICK HERE to see where to park.  There’s plenty of parking, camping, vending machines, bathrooms and even swimming is allowed at the base of the falls.

HELPFUL TIPS

If you’re going to check out Eagle Cliff Falls, then wear some waterproof boots or your swimming suit.  Even though they say you’re not allowed to swim at the base of the falls, you can get up close and personal with the water and wetness shall be had.  It’s a pretty short hike to the falls though, and it’s a relaxing spot to hang out, but it will cost you $2 to park here.

She-Qua-Ga falls is right along side the road, so there’s nothing to hike to… there’s a sidewalk right up to where you view the falls, benches along the way and a fence right in front of it.  So, this one might be a good waterfall to check out on a stroll after you go out to eat.

You’re going to want to be careful at Hector Falls though, because it’s right on a busy road.  You’re not supposed to park right on the bridge, where the waterfall flows beneath, but you can park alongside the road, and it’s busy.  Just stay clear of traffic and you’ll be golden, but you’ll only be able to see the top section of the falls from the road; to see the rest you’d probably have to be in the lake.

It’s nice to check out Taughannock Falls from the overlook, and the parking’s free, but you really ought to head down to the Gorge Trail to see it from below and really appreciate its size.  Parking in the lots at the start of the Gorge Trail is $7, but the trail is only 3/4 of a mile long.  And if the water’s low, like it was when I came, then you have the option of walking on the flat, rock bottom of the creek bed, the whole way to the falls, or the trail itself.  If you opt to walk in the creek bed then bring some waterproof boots because some places are a bit deep.

But don’t count the Upper Falls out; it’s 100 feet high and worth checking out before you go see Taughannock Falls.  It’s a really short hike from the parking lot and a worthy distraction from the main falls.

It’s supposed to cost $7 to park at Buttermilk Falls as well, but if you come later in the day, like I did, then they’ll just wave you through.  From May to June 18th, and from September 11th to October 18th they only collect the fee on the weekends.  But if you come sometime between June 19th and September 6th, and it’s between 10 AM and 6 PM, then they will be collecting the parking fee as well.  And I opted to not hike the whole way up the Gorge Trail here, because all I really came to see was Buttermilk Falls, but there are some other waterfalls to check out, farther up the trail.  Oh, and it appears that the pool at the base of the falls is a popular place to go swimming on hot days.

And it’s supposed to cost $7 to park at Lucifer Falls and Lower Falls as well (they’re in the same park) but no one was collecting money when I came in and I didn’t see a sign telling me to pay.  So, either I missed the sign or you don’t have to pay later in the day.  But, unless you plan on walking the whole trail to see both of the falls at once, then you’ll want to check ahead and make sure that the full Gorge Trail is open near Lucifer Falls.  It wasn’t when I was there and it ruined my plan of avoiding climbing a bunch of stairs.  But, if the complete trail is open, then plan on parking in the lot for Lucifer Falls, hiking the Rim Trail and then walking DOWN the stairs to the base of Lucifer Falls, then hike back the Gorge Trail to the parking lot (about 1/2 a mile round trip).  It will be a lot easier on you, and there are some great views from above.

And then you can drive to the parking lot near the Lower Falls, in the same park, and possibly take a dip in the deep pool at the base of the waterfall.  You can even drive over/through a waterfall of sorts, if you want to go into the camping area.  Oh, and if you want to get a drink from one of their vending machines, then I hope you have those Presidential $1 coins because I tried 6 different $1 bills and it wouldn’t take any of them!

WANT MORE?

If that wasn’t enough for you then here’s the official site for Taughannock Falls State Park: http://nysparks.com/parks/62/details.aspx

Here’s the official site for Buttermilk Falls State Park: http://nysparks.com/parks/151/details.aspx

And here’s the official site for Robert H. Treman State Park: http://nysparks.com/parks/135/details.aspx

And you can also check out the instrumental version of my trip, without my face popping up in the video, right here:

And here are more pictures:

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