Category Archives: National Parks

billyGoat

Billy Goat Trail Section A (Potomac, Maryland)

[confirmation]Experience level: 2/5 | Get ready to rock scramble![/confirmation]

ABOUT THE TRIP:

It was the dead of winter and we were tired of sitting indoors and looking at each other, haha, so we needed to get outside for a little bit.  We did some research to see what hikes were close by, and found this awesome trail.  We hiked the Billy Goat Trail Section A which is located in Great Falls National Park on the Maryland side.  We parked right next to the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center.

The blue blazes guided us through this 1.7 mile zig-zagging trail that runs adjacent to the Potomac River. We only wish that we had hooves and a bun protector as we slid, gripped, climbed, and leaped over the huge boulders. From afar, the vertical incline that we came across looked daunting, but getting to scale the giant rock was exhilarating. The views of the transparent turquoise water and the white craggy mountain background were spectacular. This trail was so much fun that when we finished, we were bleating to do it all over again!  (hehe.)  After we finished the trail, which lead us back to the towpath, we walked an additional 1.7 miles back to the parking lot.

[warning]Don’t forget your hooves…wear shoes that have good traction![/warning]

WHAT WE BROUGHT:

CanonSD Powershot 1000, CamelBak, Cliff Bars, warm layers, hiking boots, sneakers, gloves, scarves, sunglasses, and a wool hat, and a fleece headband.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Our favorite part of the trail was scrambling over the huge boulders.  We loved sitting at the edge of the cliff and watching the kayakers come racing down through the Gorge.  Unbeknownst to us, we came upon a cliff face on the trail that we got to scale.  The cliff face was icy and we had to get a little creative climbing it, but it was so much fun.  The trail was pretty muddy from all of the melted snow.

WHAT WE SAW:

People, kayakers, ducks, and beautiful scenery.  After we went on our hike we walked along the towpath and then walked down to view the amazing Falls.

LIVE AND LEARN:

We went on the hike late in the afternoon and as we were finishing our walk the sun started to go down fast and it got really cold.  We probably should have started the hike a little earlier so that we could have hiked Billy Goat Trail Sections B and C.  Now we’ll know for next time!
[info]Don’t forget to check out the main attraction….The Great Falls![/info]


SHOW ME THE DOUGH:

Fuel cost of trip: 30 miles round trip = $3.00
Park fee: $5.00

GRAND TOTAL: $8.00


PHOTOS:

harpersFerry

Harpers Ferry and Maryland Heights Trail (Harpers Ferry, WV)

[confirmation]Experience level: 2/5 | [/confirmation]

About the Trip

This trip holds a special place in our hearts as it was one of our very first day trips to a historical place.

Nestled in the foothills of the Shenandoah Valley lies the charming town of Harpers Ferry. This local gem is packed with rich history that predates the Civil War.

We arrived at Harpers Ferry very early in the morning before the crowds arrived. After parking our car, we went to the Visitor’s Center to get some general information and then hopped on the bus, which drove us about a mile or 2 to the historical location. After getting off of the bus, we quietly strolled through the cobblestone streets and peered into the beautifully preserved homes. It was so peaceful in the morning. We like to tour historical towns in the early morning/evening. Trying to envision a town in the 19th century while there are cars and trucks, tourists, and cell phones, really takes away from the experience. Plus you’ll get some excellent photographs during this time because of the lighting and because you won’t have any tourists in your photos.

We walked through the old buildings and took the steep stone steps up to the St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, which overlooks the Shenandoah and Susquehanna Rivers. Once the town awakened, we went to “The Coffee Mill” where we had some coffee, then walked up past the church and walked onto the Appalachian Trail. We were equally stoked about hiking the Appalachian Trail! One of our lifelong dreams is to hike the whole thing—quite an undertaking, but I know that we can do it.

While on the trail, we came across Jefferson Rock (basically a bunch of rocks piled on top of each other.) The significance of it was that Thomas Jefferson stood on and around the rock. We hiked a bit further and then turned around and on the way back to town we took a small path off of the trail which led to the Harpers Ferry Cemetery. We walked through the local cemetery and viewed the whitewashed headstones. What I remember the most about the cemetery was the eery silence. It was so piercing that we got the chilling feeling that we were not alone…… We found Robert Harper’s tombstone along with the tombstones of the Wager family. I think that we always walk through the cemeteries because it brings you as close as possible to the historical characters that you learn about while touring the town.

We lunched at The Secret Six Tavern, where I ordered a turkey club sandwich with french fries and Dave ate a hamburger with french fries. As were sitting on the deck, we couldn’t help but notice the colorful objects on the mountain in the distance. They were people chilling on side of the mountain! We were feeling adventurous so after we ate, we first checked out the location where John Brown’s Raid occurred, then we crossed over the railroad bridge, and followed the signs to the Maryland Heights trail to join in the fun! On our way across the bridge we came across some Appalachian thru-hikers. Harper’ Ferry is the half way point on the trail and usually the hikers stop into town to buy supplies and eat a hot meal. I was so excited to see an actual hiker that I struck up a conversation with one man and basically started interviewing him. He must have thought I was nuts because I followed him for as far as I could go and was snapping pictures of him too. He had hiked all the way from Georgia….I wonder to this day if he ever made it to Mount Katahdin.

The hike to Overlook Cliff is an arduous ascent and I had to stop a few times to catch my breath…. On our journey to the top we admired the lush foliage and could hear the singsong of the birds. We came across a slithering gray snake that Dave followed into the forest to photograph. After about 45 minutes we reached the carved out terrace known as “Overlook Cliffs.” The cool breeze provided us with immediate relief as we sat on the rocks and took in the aerial views of Harpers Ferry and “The Point,” which is where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet.

Upon our return from Overlook Cliff, we went to a local ice cream shop and got a large raspberry sorbet dessert. We walked behind the ice cream shop and sat on the steps of an old historical home and shared our dessert while recapping the events of the day before catching the bus back to the Visitor’s Center.

[info]Be a trailblazer and stroll along the Appalachian Trail.[/info]

HIGHLIGHTS

While on the bus back to the Visitor’s Center, I was perusing through our pictures and came across what is now a heavily debated picture….The picture is posted below but earlier that morning I took a black and white picture of a spider web that was located right outside of one of the historical buildings. As I looked at it, I could see the outline of a face. The face looks like a man who is wearing a bandana. Perhaps it was the façade of the building that just so happened to resemble a face. I’d like to go back and photograph that same spot just to see if I can capture the same effect. I don’t know what it is….but it would be pretty cool if I caught a ghost on camera.

Other highlights included our big debut on the Appalachian Trail, our journey to Overlook Cliffs, and talking to the friendly thru-hiker. We wonder to this day whether he completed the Trail.

WHAT WE BROUGHT

Small bag with water and snacks, sneakers, credit card, comfortable clothing, and two cameras.

LIVE AND LEARN

It might be interesting to take a tour to gain a little more insight about the history of Harpers Ferry…or go on one of their ghost tours.


Show me the dough

1 Coffee = $2.50
Lunch at The Secret Six Tavern= $25.00
1 Large Raspberry Sorbet=$5.00
Fuel Cost: Round trip of 120 miles = $12.00

GRAND TOTAL: $44.50

PHOTOS:

CandOCanalPath

Bike Ride along the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath in Washington, DC

[confirmation]Experience level: 2/5 |[/confirmation]

About the Trip

The DC area is one of the most outdoor friendly cities in the country. With a multitude of trails and parks to choose from, finding nature within the borders of this city is actually quite easy.

Following a trail from our apartment, we ventured down to Georgetown, crossed the Key Bridge, rode our bikes through the Francis Scott Key Bridge Park, and rode over a small red bridge that took us to the starting point of the C&O towpath.  The towpath is a dirt road trail that starts in Georgetown and runs 184.5 miles to Cumberland, MD.   The towpath runs through the C&O National Historical Park, which is the narrowest national park in the country.  Here is the link to the park’s website: http://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm.  On this short day trip, we rode along the towpath for a little while, then turned around and rode over to visit the newly designed Waterfront River Park to bask like lizards on the retaining wall which overlooks the Potomac River.

[warning]If you bike ride in the spring, watch out for hissing geese![/warning]

WHAT WE BROUGHT

Our bikes, camera, helmets, comfy clothes and sneakers, biking gloves, and water.

HIGHLIGHTS

The highlights of the trip included riding past the families of hissing geese, hanging out at the park and watching the boats and kayakers ride by, overlooking the views from the Key Bridge, and just enjoying each other’s company.

LIVE AND LEARN

I need to invest in a pair of padded biking shorts, because the towpath is a bumpy ride so extra cushioning would be a big plus.

[info]Remember that you eventually have to turn around and go back so time your ride and pace yourself.[/info]


Show me the dough

GRAND TOTAL: $0.00


PHOTOS: