Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Big Ridge State Park

DAY ONE: 5.8                                                                 Outcast Total Miles: 1367.49
Lake Trail 1.5
Ghost House Loop 1.2
Road Walk 0.5
Big Valley Trail 1.3
East Dark Hollow Trail 1.3

DAY TWO: 8.8
East Dark Hollow Trail 1.3
Big Valley 0.4
Indian Rock Loop 2.6
Sharp's Station 0.4
Big Valley 0.4
West Dark Hollow Trail 2.7
Loyston Overlook 0.5
Lake Trail 0.5

Total Miles: 14.6

Well we finally made it to Big Ridge State Park on Norris Lake.  Troy had to cancel for family reasons, but we had Travis join us.  This was his first backpacking trip.  So my Dad, Marco, Travis, and I made it to the park by 12:30.  We got our permit and then hit the trail.  The park ranger was extremely friendly and helpful.  The park only has around 16 miles of trail so we did some figuring to get as many in as we could.

We started out on the Lake Trail just North of the park office.  The first big thing you come to is the park dam which holds the lake up for the park.  The rest of Norris Lake was about 35 feet down from normal.  We continued on the Lake Trail and stopped to look at the Snodderly Cemetery.  From there we took the Ghost House Loop counterclockwise and then road walked past the old Grist Mill to the Big Valley trail.  We took the Big Valley trail to the East Dark Hollow trail to Norris Lake where we camped for the night.  With the water down on the lake, Travis and I hiked another quarter mile down to actually see the lake.

There is a spring next to the campsite so that is where we collected our water.  After being told that he was in charge of the fire, Travis had flames before we got our hammocks set up.  We visited and then ate just before dark.  Afterwards we told lies and took our cough medicine.

The next morning we hiked back up East Dark Hollow and took the Big Valley trail up to the Indian Rock Loop trail.  We hiked it counter clock wise.  When we got to the site of Peter Graves attack by Indians, I heard a big "Thump" where my Dad tripped over a root and hit head first on the biggest bolder he could find.  He is always looking for attention and I think he was teaching Travis why you never backpack alone.  He busted his forehead and nose open so we got to do a little of that first responder thing.  Luckily he does have a hard head so after getting some of his sense back, he hiked on like a true hero would.

When you drop off the side of Big Ridge, the trail goes straight down the side very steeply.  I wouldn't want to try it when it was wet!  The campsite on the Indian Rock Loop is only about a twenty foot circle.  There is another campsite on the Sharp's Station trail which also has a fire pit.  There is another plaque out at the lake's edge for Sharp's Station.

As the trail follows the edge of the lake it is covered with Raspberry thorns.  At the right time of year, you could eat your way along this trail.  After we climbed back up Big Ridge we took a break and saw two Bald Eagles fly by.  We ate some lunch here and then hiked back to Dark Hollow.

We took the West Dark Hollow trail back to the Dam.  We got to see a doe on this section and heard some more up higher on the ridge.  The campsite on this trail is bigger and there is a good water source there too.  After we crossed the Dam we climbed to the Loyston Overlook.  This trail is really not worth the climb as you really don't get any good views and probably none when there are leaves on the trees.

We got back to the car by one and the Ranger wanted to know what happened to dear old Dad.  We had to tell the story. 

We had a great hike.  The trails are in really good shape.  There are some hills that need some switch backs, but it will give you a good work out.  As for Travis, this is what he had to say for his first ever backpack:

"This being my first hike I was amazed to the tranquillity that can come over one. The hike was more than just a walk in the woods, when was the last time you were able the hear peace and quite, I mean real quite. The night came upon us with a whisper, the stars look so close you hit one with a stone and a good arm. I do not believe I have ever seen so many in the night sky. Under stand that I had to pay a price for the trip in the way of sore muscles, but I would gladly pay it again."