National Park Access Free

2014 National Park "Free Entry" Dates!! January 20th Martin Luther King Jr. Day; February 15-17th Presidents Day weekend; April 19-20th opening weekend of National Park Week; August 25th National Park Service Birthday; September 27th National Public Lands Day; November 11th Veterans Day

Sunday, August 10, 2014

#31 - Prince William Forest Park

I enjoy having Prince William Forest Park nearby, as it offers everything one could want in a great hike. There are paths as long as you want to go, hills that help ensure you get a good workout in, and gently flowing creeks providing rock structures and a beautiful backdrop to the largest Piedmont Forest in the National Park Service. The footpaths are long and narrow, taking you back to the days of the Algonquian Indians that roamed along this same creek.

Wanting to get 5+ miles in, and realizing I had not got Riley out for a hike in awhile, we grabbed our gear and some water and headed out to a section of the South Valley Trail we had yet to hike, between the waterfalls of the South Fork and the lake formed by the Civilian Conservation Corps dam.
Creek Crossing
Riley enjoys hiking along the creek and while I need to find a place to cross, she happily plummets in, chasing waterbugs, swimming and splashing along. The sound of the creek is a reminder to keep moving, and even as you bend away from it here and there, it is always nearby and you always come back to its rock structures, rapids and pools.

What I really like about this trail is how it remains just a foot path, tucking into the forest, providing opportunities to take a break creekside, and the coolness of the shade as you work your way along.

Of course, Riley has a blast and takes off like a bandit first thing, expending 90% of her energy in the first quarter mile. She eventually settles in to a more constant pace, picking up scents of dear, chasing butterflies, birds and reflections on the water.

Alas, we make it to the dam and the lake beyond. We take a break on the rocks, listening to the waterfall, watching the shadows get longer in the late afternoon sun. Riley knows the way back from here, so as I get up to put my camelbak on, she is already on the move, plopping in the water to chase a waterbug, running over rocks to get back to the trail, chasing the scent of some animal of the forest; burning up 90% of her energy in the first quarter mile.

Hike on, friends!


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