Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sharon Woods Gorge Trail, Revisited

So, apparently my posts are on a new schedule, occurring every 2.5 years or so!  Is life really THAT busy?  Yes, it is.  Since it is still January, I'll set an intention to hike and post at least once a month for the rest of the year.  Wish me luck!

Monday was a day off of school for the boys, so we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. day and the nice weather with a visit to Sharon Woods.  I came across this quote from Dr. King earlier that morning:  "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."  As we walked in the winter sunshine and encountered multiple people (and dogs) happily walking the trails, viewing the waterfalls, tossing stones at the icy lake, and playing impromptu games of tag on the playgrounds - the feelings of light and love were all around.

But the kids had more on their mind, such as this:

And this:
Sharon Woods has two main entrances. (If you are using VZ Navigator on an Android phone, do not follow the directions taking you to the Swing Rd entrance, unless you are actually planning to hit the golf course).  Here is a map of the park from the Great Parks website.  We arrived at the Lebanon Rd/US Rt 42 entrance which takes you to the playground in the top photo, (above) and easy access to the Gorge trail.  You can also find the visitor's center here which has a wonderful indoor play area for kids as well as a nature display center.  But, that's for a colder day.

The other entrance to the park is on E. Kemper Rd and takes you to the playground in the bottom photo.  During the summer, it is also a splash-land for kids and is located near the boathouse which gives you access to the lake and options for boating and fishing.

Our day was meant for hiking and enjoying nature - at least in my mind, so we used the Gorge trail to "get from one playground to the other". This strategy worked!  Here we are enjoying nature:

Giant Sycamore
Child with Giant Sycamore

Sticks are Swords

Ready to defend against wild beasts

Now, let's hit the trail!  To me, the main feature of the Gorge trail is the stream which accompanies you the whole way and contains multiple water falls and great views.  Signs along the trail talk about the natural history of the region.  But, the first sign to look for is at the trail head.  From behind the playground, you cross a stone bridge over the stream and turn upstream. You will see the first of the falls as you walk a path along the roadway.
First Waterfall

 A little bit longer and the trail head sign will be on your right.  Here it is and here we go!

Trail head sign

Second Waterfall, partially frozen - Cool!

The trail follows the stream

Third Waterfall - way down
Bridge over the stream
The Gorge trail is 0.7 miles in length.  At the end, you come to a view of the lake. On this day, it was mostly ice and we tested it only by throwing stones. 
Can I ice skate, Mom?  No.
A paved trail circles the lake and we took a portion of it to get to the playground near the boathouse.  You can see there were many people out enjoying the day.
Multipurpose trail around the lake
Resting with a Saber

Our entire visit on this day lasted just over 2 hours.  Next time, I'll pack a light snack to have before our walk back downstream and back to our car.  There is a vending machine near the boathouse playground that I tried to use, but accidentally chose the number for Hot Tamales instead of Granola Bars - [if you found a free bag of Hot Tamales in the bottom of the vending machine on MLK day in're welcome].

The Gorge trail is a pretty easy walk on a dirt and gravel path with beautiful views, and incentives playgrounds on each side to get the kids hiking.  There is plenty more to do at Sharon Woods as well.  I encourage you to check it out, ice, rain, or shine.  Happy Hiking!