Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park/Hiking Brandywine Falls

Finishing up our Virginia vacation was a planned stop about 4 hours into our 16 hour drive home at Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park to hike Brandywine Gorge Trail.¬† I knew we would need to stretch our legs and this national park was on the route home so we figured why not stop and check it out.

We arrived at the parking lot for the trail and found ample parking and bathrooms.

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The trail is 1.5 miles long and offers a great view of the Brandywine Falls. It starts out as a boardwalk to the falls.

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With upper and lower viewing platforms easily accessible.

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Then you follow the path up and over the actual waterfall and begin to follow a crushed gravel path.

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This crushed gravel path leads you a short ways until you then make a left hand turn down a rocky slope. Eventually it leads back to a crushed gravel path ending back at the parking lot after following the river bank.

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I liked this park. Off the beaten path and not well known meant not a whole lot of people were here. We did see many families with small children although, I can only guess its because its close to residential homes. There was no fee for entrance into this park and its widely spread out over a few miles if you want to explore all it has to offer. We did not explore, simply stopped to hike and stretch and then got back to driving as far as we could before night fall.

This was our last stop before returning home from a week of mountain hiking and relaxation…or at least what we call relaxation. It was quite the vacation and I am already beginning to plan our next adventure. We have a big anniversary coming up in 2018 and we plan to celebrate big……with more big mountains of course.

 

 

 

 

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Peninsula State Park: Hiking Eagle Trail

Peninsula State Park is one busy place if you have experienced summer in Door County, WI. However, for those of us who live in WI we know that after Labor Day attendance drops drastically with families back on school schedules and summer basically over. Although, with this being said….it’s still plenty busy just not as chaotic as in June, July, and August.

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We just spent our first time camping in this state park this past weekend and honestly I am not sure why we waited so long to do so. It’s fairly close to our home(just over and hour) and has one of the best hiking trails in the area….Eagle Trail.

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Rated as difficult I would have to say in Wisconsin standards they are correct. It’s a two mile loop with a steep decent to Eagle Harbor. Not handicap accessible in any way and small children will be able to do it with the guidance of an adult in some areas.

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The trail itself goes from narrow to wide in many spots.

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With rocks and tree roots making hiking challenging with those without good ankle/knee support.

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My advise would be if you have trekking poles this would be a great trail to use them on.

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Clearly you will be headed toward the waters edge and for 50% of the hike you will then follow the water until you start back up toward the starting point. Along this path there are many places to access the water for a toe dip, rest or even a swim if its warm enough.

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At the half way point you will reach the often talked about sea caves. They are quite amazing and can offer some exploration if you are into this type of thing.

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Continuing onward you will find some spots with wood planks placed by park rangers to cross over wet spots in the trail.

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And eventually you will come to a V where it is well marked and directs you to which direction to head back to where you began.

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Upon hiking upward toward the end you will come to the Eagle Panorama viewing area. Don’t pass this up since its a great view in all directions.

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Then directly across the street you will see more signs guiding you to the continuance of the eagle trail. Follow this a little further to where you began.

All in all its a great hike.It took my husband and I about two hours total with plenty of time to explore the caves ourselves.

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Give it a try if your ever in the Door County area and visit Peninsula State Park. To hike you will have to pay the park entrance fee or have an annual WI state park sticker on your vehicle.

 

Trading The Gym For The Outdoors

Lately, I find myself choosing the outdoors over the gym to get my daily workouts. As the seasons change I typically find this to be what happens, although this year it seems earlier than most for this to be happening.

I am not, by any means, a gym die hard. I do, however, like to keep a routine and try and make it there at least twice during week and twice on the weekends in the winter months. The remainder of the time I just find it more convenient to workout at home. When winter comes to an end, I still try and make it there twice during the week but weekends often are spent outside instead.

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That being said, I can’t help but struggle during the week with going to the gym when the sun is shining and there is so much to be offered outside to get in a great workout. Which means some weeks I don’t make it to the gym at all.

For one, I love to do yoga, weights, and stretching in nearby parks. Find a back corner where there is peace and quiet and you can really clear your mind and get in a good sweat.

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As a family we have come to love disc golf. It’s challenging, it’s often a nice walk through a wooded park, and offers fun while your exercising and you often don’t even realize it.

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You all know if I had to choose a great hike over a visit to the gym….the hike would win every time. Here in the midwest, hiking season is short so I take advantage of every chance I get to log trail miles. Granted, I don’t get to work every muscle group I could be working at the gym….however, hiking is one activity that’s truly brings me peace and let’s me know that I can literally walk away from life for a short amount of time. On the trail I can just let everything go.

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Once summer arrives in full force, our paddles come out, get dusted off, and the water calls my name every weekend and even some week nights. From kayaking to paddle boarding, I often struggle with which one to do on which weekend. I know right….what a hard decision to have to make. Believe me…..it really is sometimes.

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During the months of June,July, and August I will be very lucky to touch foot in the gym even once. Weekends are jam packed with summer fun and week days are also jammed packed with other types of summer fun while I work. Caring for children during the days in the summer months is twice as exhausting as in the winter months for me. Winter offers the same activities in rotation. Summer, however, leads to all sorts of summer fun….especially when my husband and son are also home to join in the action. Things such as water balloon fights and critter hunting always add to the fun of summer.

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Do you prefer to spend time exercising outdoors or inside?

What’s you favorite outdoor exercise?

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

This was the only state park we visited while in the state of Tennessee. Located in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties and it surrounds the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau. We explored two waterfalls while here, Fall Creek Falls and Cane creek Falls.

Even when you take into consideration that we visited here without a plan, in mid January, and really only came to hike a quick hike to the Fall Creek Falls itself…..our visit here ended up being quite amazing. Now, apparently, there is an inn, campsites, cabins and meeting rooms for, I would assume, weddings and such…..we saw non of this. Like I said, it was quickly planned and we went directly to the trailhead we were seeking without any extra exploration.

Upon arrival to the trailhead we found ample parking, great signage, and an overlook for anyone not hoping to hike down to the falls itself.

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All very gorgeous and easily accessible……but we were looking to hike. So down into the gorge we headed.

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It was amazing. The terrain was mostly rock with some dirt trail here and there. We knew to be careful not to turn an ankle since the park ranger we spoke to upon arriving told us many individuals do injure themselves on this trail.

Beside the falls itself, our favorite spot we found to explore was a crevice in the rock that we all crawled into. If you recall in Sedona, the new family rule is I only hike on trails that are as wide as my hips and thankfully my hips fit through this crevice which meant I could also explore with my boys.

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Eventually you arrive at the end of the trail and two waterfalls roaring over the edge into the gorge.

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After we all did some exploring in this area it was time to head back out of the gorge and see if we could find our way to Cane Creek Falls.

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Although, by the time we reached the top again, we were hot…. in January…..again just amazing, so it was time do some adjusting to our zip off hiking pants.

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To reach Cane Creek Falls you followed a fairly smooth trail through some dense wooded areas with lookouts along the way.

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For us the lookouts were quite a disappointment since you could see very little if anything around the over grown tree line. So we headed a bit further down the trail to what we had read was a swinging bridge. How fun does that sound right? Well, it was fun, shaky and a bit unnerving to see cables with only, what I refer to as, chicken wire for edges. However, you only live once, so we all crossed it once and then twice to return to our vehicle from there.

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Our entire hike took us 5.3 miles through this state park.

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The park service rated this hike as strenuous and going into the gorge down to the falls I would agree simply because of the terrain. With that being said, I think anyone not disabled could do this at a comfortable pace per individual.

The trail to Cane Creek Falls I would rate as easy….since there is very little rock to be scrambling over to reach the overlooks.

 

First Hike Of 2017

We decided to forgo the gym on January 1st. and hike since the sun was shining and I came down with some sort of nasty respiratory bug which made working out difficult the day before. Plus, my husband was dying to try out his new GPS we bought him for Christmas.

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We headed to my favorite nearby trail to see if the construction signs were removed yet and the trail had reopened. Upon arrival, I was thrilled to see it open….it had been closed for at least the last 6 months. We wasted no time making tracks in the snow since it was too cold to stand around.

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The temperature was about 20 degrees when we arrived but the winds were quite low which made this hike fairly tolerable for this time of year. The trail did have varying depths of snow cover but was still easy to maneuver through.

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It felt so good to be outside and soak up some natural sunshine. It has been weeks since I have ventured onto any trail in the area.

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Even though my toes were cold by the time we were finished, it was a great way to start the new year.

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Today we hiked the first 3 miles(almost) of many more to come this year.

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Did you do anything special on January 1st?

Learning To Use Trekking Poles

My first trekking poles were given to me by my husband for our anniversary a few years ago. Now, some of you may cringe at this gift for an anniversary but I was thrilled to death. I am not the most graceful person you will find on any trail and my balance is by far balanced. Trekking poles have made life for me on the trail so much more enjoyable and have given me the confidence to explore deeper, hike farther, and go higher than I ever would have attempted without them. I am a complete fan of trekking poles which is why my husband recently bought his first pair.

His reasoning for purchasing trekking poles is a bit different than why I love mine. His is for help with his knee pain since his wife(ME) likes to hike mountains and this is what causes him pain. So recently we took a day trip to my favorite rocky bluff state park and he had his first experience with his trekking poles. IMG_5227

Our goal on this day was to hike up and down the bluffs which is a mixture of a few different trail terrains. Our first hike was up a gravel/rocky path on the East Bluff Trail.

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Uphill the entire way to the top with larger rocks thrown in there for some fun.

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After reaching the top we headed back down the Pothole Trail. This consisted of rocky steps all the way back down the bluff. This equals=painful on the knees.

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Next, we took a bit of a break, had a snack and headed back up. Although this time it was back up steps, not a rocky trail. And after that is was back down a mixture of terrain.

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He took many stops to adjust the length of his poles along the way until he finally got the hang of what he liked on which type of terrain.

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After a full day of hiking a park we have hiked numerous times in the past and knew exactly what we would feel like when we were done….the verdict was that his knees were not nearly as sore as they typically are after this particular hike.

I can only hope they offer as much relief to his sore knees during our trip to Arizona…especially since my goal is the very top of a very well know rock! Which ultimately means, if we reach the top we will also have to return back to the bottom.

Here are a few more things we saw during our hike and after when we took a quick tube float in the lake as a reward for a big day of hiking.

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Have you ever tried trekking poles?

What is your favorite brand?

Hello Again….It’s Been Awhile

Hello, hello….It’s been awhile since I have posted anything. Well, life got a bit busy and I needed to let something fall behind and it just so happened to be blogging. So let’s catch up a bit.

Training for our upcoming Arizona hiking trip has consumed most, if not all, of my free time. And I assure you, free time is not easy to find. If I am not working, I am exercising. Which has led to my new best friend being my foam roller. This really helped when we first started doing flights of steps which has since gotten much easier. It’s rewarding to see progress so soon.

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As to why my free time has been so limited….two weeks ago I added a newborn to the group of children I care for everyday. She is quite the little peanut but adds so much more work to my day. Feedings are much closer together and much of my time is spent sitting, feeding bottles to everyone during the daytime hours. All while keeping the toddler in our group happy and content. Add in household chores, meals and laundry and by evening I am tired. But each day she gets a bit older and now that everyone is starting to adjust to our new group dynamics its getting easier.

We did end up cancelling a recent camping trip we had planned due to a weekend of rain. This was quite depressing but we decided last minute to do the next best thing, we went shopping for outdoor equipment. We hopped in the SUV and headed to our nearest REI (2hrs from us) to purchase a few needed things for our trip and then made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s….my favorite grocery store.

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Before falling asleep every evening I have been researching places, restaurants, trails, outfitters and so on for us to explore while in Sedona. From what I read, there is a very good chance my husband and son may starve to death while we are here. I, on the other hand, will be in pure bliss since most of this area is vegan/vegetarian. And the one thing I am looking forward to trying is prickly pear ice cream….apparently this is very popular in this area. We shall see…

And remember that hiking group I am working on forming in our area. I have gotten some great responses from some people. Now I have been working on our first meet and greet trail hike and a date for this to happen. Hopefully it becomes a regular monthly thing. If any readers are local and interested in joining us, let me know.

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That about sums up life here lately. With the morning a bit cooler, school back in session,

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and fall right around the corner, I am racing to have as much fun as I can before the snow flies. You will all have to forgive me if blogging becomes scarce for awhile since I don’t find a whole lot of time to sit and type my name much less a complete blog posting.

Until next time….