April 2017: Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Flat Rock, North Carolina
WEBSITE

THE PARK
In 1945 at the age of 67 Carl Sandburg, widely lauded as the “Poet of the People,” had accomplished enough for two lifetimes. He left school at 13 to go to work and help his Swedish immigrant parents in Illinois. In his teens he traveled the country as a hobo and then fought briefly in the Spanish-American War. Afterwards he landed a job as a newspaper writer and established himself as a crusading investigative reporter and champion of labor rights. An inveterate collector of folk songs, Sandburg became a popular lecturer and in 1926 recorded an album of songs for the RCA Victor Talking Machine Company. Turning his talents to research he became known as the biographer of Abraham Lincoln and won a Pulitzer Prize for history in 1940 for four-volume set Abraham Lincoln: The War Years. 

So when the Sandburgs packed up their belongings, including 16,000 books, onto a train in Michigan and moved to the Connemara Farm on the slopes of Glassy Mountain it could be expected he was ready to relax. Not so. After fixing up the 1839 Greek Revival house that had been built as a summer home for South Carolina political leader and first Secretary of the Treasury for the Confederate States of America, Christopher Memminger, Carl Sandburg would produce more than a third of his life work on the farm in his remaining 22 years and win another Pulitzer Prize, this time for poetry.

THE WALKS
On over five miles of groomed hiking trails the Carl Sandburg Home offers something for any level of canine hiker. For easy jaunts with your dog there is a splendid undulating trail around the picturesque Front Lake beneath the house - go around three times for 1.2 miles. For more spirited canine hiking there is a 623-foot climb in 1.5 miles to the views atop the Big Glassy Mountain rockface. Halfway up the mountain, exactly when your panting dog will welcome a breather is a dammed creek reservoir that forms an ideal canine swimming hole. It that hike sounds a bit too ominous you can content yourself with a trip around Little Glassy Mountain on the Memminger Trail. And if athletic dogs are whimpering for more, you can abort the trip around and go over the summit of 2,426-foot Little Glassy Mountain that abounds with Lady Slipper’s orchids in the spring.

SOMETHING SPECIAL
Until she was 53 Paula Sandburg had never given much thought to goats. In 1935 when her youngest daughter wanted a milking cow for their Michigan farm, her father suggested a dairy goat instead. Less expensive to feed, easier to move around, he said. Soon a handful of goats were happily grazing the dunes on the Sandburg farm above Lake Michigan. Paula discovered that her chronic digestion problems were going away as she drank goat’s milk. She became immersed in dairy goats, keeping meticulous records on herd management and best breeding practices. Her Chikaming herd became internationally renowned for the quality of their milk and followed her to Connemara Farms. Jennifer II, a Toggenburg dairy goat, was the world’s top producing Toggenburg in the world in 1960. If the herd is outside, your dog can still see descendants of three breeds of champion goats today - no dogs allowed in the barn area.

DIRECTIONS
Flat Rock; take Exit 53 off I-26 onto Upward Road west. At its end turn left on Greenville Highway and right on Little River Road to the parking area on the left.

September 2015: Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area

Peters Mountain, Pennsylvania
WEBSITE

THE PARK
Peter Allen built a stone house on the mountain that came to be named for him in 1726. The house, the oldest in Dauphin County, still stands at the intersection of PA 225 and PA 325. In 1962, Joseph Ibberson, a long-time Bureau of Forestry executive, began buying land here to create a tree farm and in 1998, the same year he was named Pennsylvania Tree Farmer of the Year, Ibberson donated his land to become the first conservation area in the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks.  

THE WALKS
The trail system in this 350-acre swath of unbroken hardwood forest is a crown jewel for area canine hikers. The paths are wide, the woods are airy, and the choices are many. The only thing Ibberson Conservation Area lacks for canine hiking superstardom is varied access to water sources. A pleasant woodland pond is encountered along the Turkey Foot and Pine trails. For those sniffing out a challenge, the Victoria Trail - utilizing the historic Victoria Road that was used to drag timber to the iron furnace - grinds for two miles up to the Appalachian Trail on top of Peters Mountain.

SOMETHING SPECIAL
This is a good place to observe forest succession. Pioneering species are typically pines that require healthy doses of sunshine. The original white pines and hemlocks that populated these slopes were mostly cut and mostly hardwood trees grew up in their place.

DIRECTIONS
The Ibberson Conservation Area straddles Peters Mountain, north of Harrisburg. The park entrance is on the north side of the mountain. From Route 322/22, take PA 225 north over the mountain and turn right on Hebron Road near the bottom of the other side, a distance of about 4.5 miles. Follow Hebron for another 4.5 miles, bearing right at the forks in the road, until reaching the Conservation Area on the right.

August 2015: Bear Creek Educational Forest

Tallahassee, Florida
WEBSITE

THE PARK
The journey of the Ochlockonee River from Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico was interrupted on the outskirts of Tallahassee in 1927 by the construction of Jackson Bluff Dam to generate electricity, create recreationand produce waterfront real estate. The river backed up enough to create the 8,850-acre Lake Talquin. Bear Creek Educational Forest is a 492-acre tract of the Lake Talquin State Forest. Opened late in 2005, programs are offered for free to school and youth groups.  

THE WALKS
The full trail system at Bear Creek sweeps away from the same trailhead as you work your way downhill to the forest’s two feature routes. The Ravine Trailis a sporty 1.4-mile loop that travels above the vegetation-choked Beaver Pond. Your dog will be bounding up inclines and past steephead ravines as the path twists and turns. This is the best place in Northwest Florida for tree identification. In addition to an interpretive brochure the signposts continue for the entire trip and often repeat to reinforce the learning of the native species. More paw-friendly hiking is available on the orange-blazed Bear Creek Trailthat traverses hardwood forests and a longleaf pine-and-wiregrass community. All the hiking at Bear Creek is under a shaded canopy and guaranteed to give your dog a workout.

SOMETHING SPECIAL
The Living Forest Trailis a half-mile paved path that switches down the west side of a ravine. If your dog has the patience you can stop and listen to “talking trees” describe the native trees and plants and animals by simply pushing a button. 

DIRECTIONS
West of town via I-10. Take Exit 181 and head south on SR 267 for 4.8 miles to tract entrance on left.

July 2015: Pink Beds Picnic Area

Pisgah National Forest; Brevard, North Carolina
WEBSITE

THE PARK
When George W. Vanderbilt purchased 125,000 acres for his Biltmore Estate much of the land was severely over-farmed and in drastic need of reforestation. Vanderbilt turned the task over to Gifford Pinchot, the first private forester hired in America. When his friend Theodore Roosevelt became President in 1900, Gifford Pinchot was named the first Chief Forester of the United States Forest Service. During his tenure, national forests would triple in size to 193 million acres. Back in Asheville, Vanderbilt hired Carl Schenck, a German versed in scientific forestry, to take command of the Biltmore forests. Schenck founded America’s first school of forestry, the Biltmore Forest School, which graduated nearly 400 students with expertise and practical experience in forest management until it closed in 1913. The Cradle of Forestry National Historic Site in the Pink Beds was established by Congress in 1968 to preserve the legacy of the old Biltmore Forest School. The 6,500-acre Pink Beds takes it name, naturally enough, from the profusion of pink wildflowers that bloom in this flat, hemmed-in valley every spring.  

THE WALKS
In the more than half-million acres of the Pisgah National Forest, the Pink Beds Loop is the easiest extended hiking you will find with your top trail companion. The loop winds lazily through mature oak-dominated hardwoods with a spattering of white pine stands in the cove forest but the dominant feature is the rare mountain bog. Sometimes the Pink Beds are too-well lubricated and impassable; even in dry times expect wet feet and paws. The Pink Beds Loop covers five miles but can be short-cutted across the wetlands on the Bennett Branch Trail.
Next door, the Cradle of Forestry sports two paved interpretive trails of about a mile in length - the Forest Festival Trail that focuses on forest products and includes an antique portable sawmill and a 1915 Climax locomotive. This 2-speed, geared steam engine was popular with loggers and more than a thousand were produced between 1888 and 1928. The Biltmore Campus Trail snakes through the rustic campus where many restored historic buildings still reside.

SOMETHING SPECIAL
More than ninety percent of the Appalachian bogs have been drained for cropland and the Pink Beds is one of the largest intact wetland complexes in the Southern Appalachians with a nationally significant population of rare bog plants such as bog roses, northern green orchids and bog Jack-in-the-pulpit. Most important of these are the swamp pinks, a member of the lily family designated as threatened in 1988. It has a pink flower the shape and size of an average pine cone. In this nutrient-challenged land environment some plants turn to animals for sustenance. The insectivorous pitcher plants lure insects into a deadly trap for consumption by a cocktail of digestive fluids in the ewer-shaped pitcher. Tiny hairs pointing downward prevent the trapped insects from crawling out to freedom. 

DIRECTIONS
Take US 276 south from Milepost 412 of the Blue Ridge Parkway four miles to parking on the left (all paved).

June 2015: Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania
WEBSITE

THE PARK
By the 1870s the railroads had penetrated the rugged Youghiogheny River Gorge and reached Ohiopyle, chasing the timber trade. Quickly enough the breathtaking scenery held sway and soon the Baltimore & Ohio railroad was hauling tourists as well as lumber. It cost $1 to ride from Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle and back. Hotels popped up along the gorge, including the four-story Ferncliff Hotel built on a 100-acre peninsula where the Youghiogheny River doubles back on itself. But roads were slower to arrive than rails and with the rise of the automobile vacationers were diverted elsewhere. Hotels fell into disrepair and were torn down. In 1973 the Ferncliff Peninsula was declared a National Natural Landmark in recognition of its many rare and interesting plants, many being Southern species at the northern reach of their range.  

THE WALKS
Just about anything on your dog’s canine hiking wish list is on the menu in the nearly 20,000 acres of Ohiopyle State Park. Waterfalls. Swimming holes. Overlooks. Easy hikes. Vigorous workouts. The mandatory canine hike is luckily the easiest and most centrally located - the three miles of trails that sweep around and across the Ferncliff Peninsula. Hugging the water for most of its 1.7 miles, the hemlock-draped Fernwood Trail leads to detours through mature hardwoods and carpets of ferns and past hotel ruins. Waterfalls can be tracked down with little puchase on Jonathan’s Run Trail, the Great Gorge Trail and Meadow Run Trails. Along Meadow Run the water sluices through waterslides that you don’t need a kayak to enjoy. Strap on your dog’s climbing gear and check out valley views along the Kentuck Trail and atop Baughman Rock.The Youghiogheny River Trail is a hike/bike trail so fine that it was tabbed by Travel & Leisure magazine as one of the “The World’s Best Walks.” Your dog won’t have to do all 27 miles through the park to agree. Ohiopyle is also the southern terminus for the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Trail, one of Pennsylvania’s permier footpaths. That would be a highlight of most parks; here it is scarcely a footnote.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
The famous Lower Yough begins after the Ohiopyle Falls and flows seven miles downstream to the Bruner Run Take-out. This is the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River, studded with Class III and Class IV rapids. A half-dozen alone can be viewed from the Ferncliff Trail.  

DIRECTIONS
from the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76), take Exit 91, Donegal. Turn left onto PA 31 east. Travel about two miles, turn right onto PA 711 and PA 381 south. Travel ten miles to Normalville, turn left onto PA 381 south for 11 miles to park.

May 2015: Clay Head Nature Trail

Block Island, Rhode Island
WEBSITE

THE PARK
David and Elise Lapham first visited Block Island for a vacation in 1951. Over the next decade they kept returning and finally decided to buy five acres on the island’s north end. While looking at a small parcel of land across the road they ended up instead with almost 200 acres atop the clay bluffs gouged out by retreating glaciers some 10,000 years prior. David Lapham discovered he had an affinity for trail building. He picked up a chopping machine and began clawing out brush and thickets in every direction. One day he set out to measure his walking paths and found out he had nine miles of trails on his property. With his trail system complete the Lathams began decorating the footpaths. Over the years more than 7,000 daffodil bulbs went into the ground. Thousands of trees were planted. From the beginning, the Laphams wanted to share their land with its spectacular setting. When they decided to leave the property in the stewardship of the Nature Conservancy it was with the proviso that the public would have access to the trails.  

THE WALKS
David Lapham’s trail system has come to be known as “The Maze.” These grassy trails are unmarked but well-maintained and a delight for your dog. You can pop out at a stone wall or one of the best views on the East Coast. The Clay Head Nature Trail runs for about one mile along the top of the 70-foot bluffs. It is easy going but will be one of the longest miles you’ve ever taken your dog on when you factor in the frequent stops for watching the crashing waves or charting the progress of a passing vessel. 

SOMETHING SPECIAL
Setting out from the northern terminus of the Clay Head Trail you can reach the North Light with your dog after about a 20-minute walk on a sandy beach. Dangerous shoals and frequent fog banks made the passage around Block Island a tricky affair for mariners. Between 1819 and 1839 alone fifty-nine ships wrecked on or near Block Island. The current granite lighthouse dates to 1868 and was the fourth light to be built here. The first three, dating to 1829, fell victim to shifting sands, faulty design and voracious waves.

DIRECTIONS
From Old Harbor, head north on the Corn Neck Road (the only road to the north end of Block Island) to the trailhead at a post marker about 2.5 miles from town.

April 2015: Elk Neck State Park

Northeast, Maryland
WEBSITE

THE PARK
At Turkey Point the Northeast and Elk rivers have pinched a finger of land in the Upper Chesapeake Bay so violently that it swells to more than 100 feet above the water. The result is Elk Neck State Park, a vibrant mix of sandy beaches, marshlands and hardwood forests.  

THE WALKS
There are five main trails at Elk Neck State Park. None is longer than two miles and all can be covered in a leisurely afternoon of canine hiking. The White Trail through the Thackery Swamp is a self-guiding nature trail. The Black Trail skirts the shoreline of the Elk River and the waters of the Chesapeake Bay can be reached from the Blue Trail at Turkey Point. You start your explorations on an old access road high above the waters that soon turns towards the Old Turkey Point Lighthouse. The various footpaths radiate off the main trail across the peninsula.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
A lighthouse was authorized by Congress in 1831 and two years later a tower and keeper’s quarters was situated on a 100-foot bluff where the North East and Elk Rivers converge. Originally, the 35-foot tower had a panel of red glass to warn ships they were approaching the shallows. The beacon was visible for 13 miles and was the highest of 74 lighthouses on the Chesapeake Bay. The keeper’s quarters are gone but the tower and spectacular views remain atop the grassy bluffs.

DIRECTIONS
From I-95 exit onto Route 272 (North East Road)and go south 2.4 miles to Route 7 (East Cecil Avenue). Cross State Route 7, stay on Route 272 and go 11 miles to the end of the road and the park.

March 2015: Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park

Garrettsville, Ohio
WEBSITE

THE PARK
Retreating glaciers covered much of the prehistoric Ohio seabed with soil and rock but the formations at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges remained exposed. At the mercy of eroding winds and ice the sandstone cliffs have fissured and surrendered giant slump blocks of rock. In 1940 the State of Ohio began acquiring land in the area and in 1949 the park was created to protect the one-of-a-kind landscape.  

THE WALKS
Your dog’s hiking day here will be confined entirely to the Ledges that run north-south in a confined area that is bracketed by waterfalls at either end. Four color-coded trails fan out from the same trailhead opposite the south end of the parking lot. Following the prescribed routes can be difficult and it will take a few false turns before you get used to picking up the trail blazes. Or you can also disregard the trails altogether and let your dog investigate the rock formations and slot canyons as she will. The Yellow Trail is the only one of the quartet that heads north, poking through slender passages at the base of the cliff wall on its way to Cascade Falls that plunge across a vertical rock face. Gold Hunter’s Cave under the falls was the site of a brief and fruitless gold rush in the 1870s. The southbound trails each offer a unique Ledge experience. The easy-going White Trail ascends to the top of the Ledges and morphs into a traditional woodland canine hike. It climaxes at two-tiered Minnehaha Falls where Sylvan Creek slides into a twisting canyon. The Blue Trail traverses the front of the Ledges and is the best route to view their striking natural beauty. Several species of ferns cling to the ledges and the cool, moist rocks breed spectacular wildflowers such as the rare red trillium in spring. Adventurous dogs will want to challenge the Red Trail that descends imaginatively into the heart of the Ledges. Don’t be ashamed to turn back trying to follow your dog’s wagging tail into seemingly impossible passages like Fat Man’s Peril and the Squeeze. Eventually you pop out in the dark chill of the Devil’s Icebox.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
The ledges in Northeast Ohio are composed of a sedimentary rock known as puddingstone in which white speckles of quartz have cemented together over millions of years. Mixed with it is a combination of other pebbles and stones of various sizes, shapes and colors that give it a vague resemblance to old-style, chunky Christmas pudding. Some may even contain tiny fossils from ancient river beds, swept down from Canada. Your dog will find easy trotting on the good-gripping puddingstone that makes a fine ornamental stone when cut and polished properly.

DIRECTIONS
Northeast of town on Nelson Ledge Road (SR 282), north of SR 305 and south of US 422.

February 2015: Falling Waters State Park

Chipley, Florida
WEBSITE

THE PARK
At 73 feet, Falling Waters is home to Florida’s tallest waterfall. The potential of power generated from tumbling water disappearing into a cave at the bottom of a sinkhole attracted industry in the 19th century. A grist mill operated here, grinding corn into grits and cornmeal during the Civil War. After it was abandoned, timbers - some on display in the park - fell into Falling Waters Sink. In 1891, a whiskey distillery just above the waterfall provided legal hooch for nearby railway workers. When the still went away the Glen St. Mary Nursery operated here but it failed during the Depression of the 1930s, leaving behind exotic species such as mimosa, Japanese privet and date palm on the property.  

THE WALKS
At Falling Waters you take your dog into woods of towering Southern pines and Northern hardwoods but it doesn’t take long for this hike to cease to resemble a typical forest walk. In short order you are introduced to fern-draped sinkholes, the namesake waterfall, a wiregrass prairie, and a two-acre lake. The trail system essentially links the Sinks Trailto the Wiregrass Trail to the Terrace Trail. Starting from the parking lot your dog will be working up one of Flordia’s highest hills to an elevation of 324 feet in the campground. Probably not enough to set him to panting but midway the trail passes by the lake where your dog can slip in for a quick refresher. Detailed plant identification brochures accompany the trail to explain the rich biodiversity that exists along the Branch Creek. Your dog will be trotting on elaborate boardwalks and the remnants of old country roads.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
A crack in the earth and old Indian legends triggered dreams of black gold in the head of Jose Mantanza. In 1919 he parsed together a tall, wooden derrick and steam-driven rig and sunk one of Florida’s first oil wells at Falling Water. At 3.900 feet a blow of gas shook the ground and reports of a gusher raced through the community. But no oil followed. Drilling continued to a depth of almost one mile but no oil was ever found. The well was capped in 1921.  

DIRECTIONS
Three miles south of town. Take Exit 120 off I-10 and go south on SR 77 for one mile. Turn left on State Park Road and follow to the entrance.

January 2015: Bear Mountain

Salisbury, Connecticut
WEBSITE

THE PARK
Through much of the 19th century reference books stated confidently that no part of Connecticut was higher than 1,000 feet. No one living in the remote Litchfield Hills probably paid much mind but Robbins Battell of the prominent musical family of Norfolk wanted to set the record straight.He identified Bear Mountain as the highest point in the state, negotiated a long-term lease on the property and had it surveyed to make it official. But having set out in his quest for accuracy, Battell actually muddied the waters more. Long after the expert flutist, state senator and philanthropist died in 1894 modern surveying techniques identified the side of Mount Frissell, four miles away, as the highest point in Connecticut. Bear Mountain, however, is the state’s highest summit.  

THE WALKS
Every Nutmeg state dog should get a chance to stand on the state’s highest summit. The most popular route is via the blue-blazed Undermountain Trail to the Appalachian Trail, tagging the peak in just under three miles. Bear Mountain is an honest mountain - there is scarcely a downhill step on the ascent to the top - no depressing drops into saddles and ravines that set tails to drooping when you know you should be headed up. You are gaining over 1,500 feet in elevation on this canine hike but the serious panting does not begin until the final half-mile. Across Bear Mountain you’ll find view-blocking stretches of blueberry and huckleberry struggling with pitch pines and oaks in the stingy mountaintop soils. The views come soon enough, first to the west, then to the south and finally in all directions. You can continue across the summit and return on the 2.1-mile Paradise Lane Trail that crosses upland forests with small ups and downs. The drop down the north slope is steep, quick and rocky and will challenge the most cautious of dogs so take your time here. The full loop with a backtrack on the Undermountain Trail will cover about 6.6 miles.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
Robbins Battell hired local mason Owen Travis to erect a tower on the roof of Connecticut in 1885. Without the aid of any roads, Travis spent the next three years hauling 350 tons of stone to the summit. He built a pyramid 20 feet sqaure and 22.5 feet high in the rural tradition of New England stone fences with no mortar. A lightning rod extended another 17 feet above the surrounding countryside. Over the years the tower has crumbled but you and your dog can still scramble up ten feet of stabilized rubble and think about what it took to bring all these stones to the top of the state.

DIRECTIONS
From Salisbury head north on Route 41 from the intersection with Route 44 in town. Go 3.5 miles to a large parking lot on the left for the Undermountain Trail (it is signed).

December 2014: Allaire State Park

Farmingdale, New Jersey
WEBSITE

THE PARK
James Peter Allaire was born in Nova Scotia in 1785 where his family, loyal to the crown of King George III, fled in exile during the American Revolution. The Allaires returned to New York City in 1806 and the 21-year old James Allaire opened a brass foundry. In 1822 Allaire came to the wilds of New Jersey and bought the 5,000-acre Monmouth Furnace to supply his engine works. The isolation of his new Howell Works caused him to build a self-sufficient village around it. The ironworks thrived until 1850 when Allaire retired. Legendary newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane bought the property as a retreat and maintained much of the old village. His estate deeded 800 acres to the State of New Jersey and the park today covers more than 3,000 acres.  

THE WALKS
Thanks to the Manasquan River the trail system is a bit disjointed; to reach all of it you need to drive to various parking lot trailheads on either side of the water. From the parking area at the Allaire Village you can access a 4.5-mile walking trail that tours the historic building and joins up with the stacked loop Red Trail at the Nature Center. The Yellow Trail slips out of the village and explores the Manasquan River floodplain. The canine hiking is easy on these wide, pedestrian-only trails and the pace is relaxed away from the village. Allaire State Park is laced with sand roads and an abandoned railroad have been converted into multi-use trails. Jump on any of these well-marked pathways for hours more of comfortable canine hiking in the northernmost reaches of the Pine Barrens.

SOMETHING SPECIAL
The Pine Creek Railroad in the park dates to 1953 and is the oldest continuously operating steam preservation railway in the country. Narrow-gauge trains like this hauled bog iron more to the furnace and moved finished goods out to market.

DIRECTIONS
Monmouth County; from the Garden State Parkway take Exit 98 and follow the well-marked signs to the park. From I-195 use Exit 31B.

November 2014: Beaverdam Park

Gloucester, Virginia
WEBSITE

THE PARK
Mordecai Cooke was the earliest English settler of this land, patenting this part of Gloucester in 1652. His descendants established several large estates in the area, including Wareham that includes much of the park property today. The Beaverdam Reservoir is of recent vintage - in 1990 a newly built earthen dam flooded the open fields and woodlands of Beaverdam Swamp to a depth of 25 feet to stabilize the Gloucester water supply. The 665-acre park surrounds the many tentacled lake.  

THE WALKS
Given just a slender band of land along the lakeshore park officials have succeeded in creating one of the Tidewater’s best trail systems. The main multi-use trail stretches 9.5 miles from the main park around the northern edge of the reservoir to Fahy’s Road and is used as a stem for a string of loop trails. If you have a car shuttle that journey through thick hardwoods makes for a solid day’s outing with your dog but otherwise you have a score of options to craft your canine hiking day. The multi-use trail is hard-packed and stony; the various spur trails are reserved for hikers and more paw-friendly. The two bridges on the route are often used as turn-around points by trail-users; Morgan’s Bridge from the main park is a three-mile round-trip and canine adventurers seeking a bigger outing can find a six-mile round trip on the loops at the Route 606 trailhead. For a relaxing inroduction to Beaverdam Park’s splendors pick up an interpretive brochure and follow the Lake’s Edge Trail from the ranger station at the main entrance.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
Film buffs may already recognize Beaverdam Park from the action thriller “Minority Report.” The waterside home of Tom Cruise’s estranged wife is on Ware Point Road, near Beulah, Gloucester. After escaping via a car production line, Cruise drives the red Lexus through Beaverdam Park.

DIRECTIONS
From Route 17 turn onto 17 Business into town (Main Street). Turn onto Roaring Springs Raod and follow to the main park at end. For Fahy’s Road (Route 606) trailhead, stay on Route 17, turning onto Fahy’s Road and continuing three miles.

October 2014: Frick Park

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
WEBSITE

THE PARK
Henry Clay Frick was born in Westmoreland County in 1849 into the Overholt Whiskey Distillery family. At 21, vowing to be a millionaire by the age of 30, he struck out on his own to manufacture coke for the steel industry. He was employing 1,000 workers by his deadline. In 1882, while on his honeymoon in New York City, he met Andrew Carnegie and struck up a partnership that propelled Frick into one of the most influential industrialists of the Gilded Age. Although he spent his later years in New York City, Frick bequeathed 150 acres south of his Point Breeze mansion, Clayton, to the City of Pittsburgh for a public park. He provided a $2 million trust fund to help with long-term maintenance and the money was used to purchase more land, enlarging the park to 600 acres and making Frick Park the largest of the city’s four major parks.  

THE WALKS
Frick Park has something to enthrall any level of canine hiker. Just out for an easy stroll with your dog? The Tranquil Trail travels gently up the spine of the park through Fern Hollow Valley, tracing and crossing the stream for more than one mile. If the wide, crushed gravel and dirt path isn’t paw-friendly enough, grassy shoulders abound. For trail dogs sniffing out more of a challenge, head over to Riverview Hill and the trails that wind up and around the wooded promontory. Or leave the Tranquil Trail and make the short spirited climb up the Biddle Trail or the longer but considerably more scenic pull up the Falls Ravine Trail to Clayton Hill and the Frick Environmental Center. Here your dog can trot the exceedingly agreeable North/South Clayton Loop for just over a mile. This is all shaded hiking for your dog.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
The stone Frick Gatehouses provide an elegant gateway to the park. The French-style gatehouse at the north end of Tranquil Trail on Reynolds Street was designed by John Russell Pope, architect of the Jefferson Memorial.The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy completely restored the gatehouse, cleaning the stonework and adding a new clay tile roof and historic lighting. New cypress doors, matching the originals, were installed, reusing some of the historic hardware. 

DIRECTIONS
For the Tranquil Trail, turn south on South Braddock Road to parking on the right beyond the tennis courts. For the Frick Environmental Center, turn onto Beechwood Road.

September 2014: Colt Creek State Park

Lakeland, Florida
WEBSITE

THE PARK
Charlie Mac Overstreet began raising beef cattle on this land in the 1930s. More than 1,200 acres of pastureland here grazed a herd of some 1,000 head. After the State bought over 5,000 acres of the Overstreet ranch in 2006 the remaining cattle were driven from the property. Colt Creek became Florida’s 160th state park and one of five management units of the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. Second only to the Everglades in wildlife abundance in Florida, the headwaters of the Peace River, Withlacoochee River, Ocklawaha River, and Hillsborough River course through the Green Swamp. Colt Creek is one of the many tributaries that create this hydrological treasure.  

THE WALKS
Colt Creek is the park to head to for big, solitary hikes with your dog. There are over 12 miles of trails here, mostly on wide, grassy road-trails tripping through airy pine flatwoods. The star walk is the multi-hour excursion on the Orange Trail loop that is the only route accessed from the park trailheads. From there you can simply point your dog down the orange blazes or craft a canine hiking day with blue-blazed side trails and cut-offs. Most of your dog’s time will be spent with the saw palmetto and longleaf pines but the trails also touch on the expanses of heritage pastureland where your trail dog can channel his inner cattle dog. Don’t overlook the short Nature Trail near Mac Lake which wanders through a hardwood hammock with the park’s thickest concentration of sabal palms and cypress on a sandy path.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
Of all the American states, Florida ranks fifth in mineral production. Phosphate mining is the most widespread activity with the Sunshine State supplying one-quarter of the world’s phosphate needs. But Florida also ranks second in the production of limestone, used for cement and as a road base. Lime rock mining was carried on here for decades - the lakes in the park are artifacts of the old mining pits. You can still spot large lime rocks as you hike with your dog on the Colt Creek trails; if you don’t see any “wild rocks” in the woods you can see lime rocks used as roadway barriers.

DIRECTIONS
From I-4 take Exit 32 and go north on US 98 for 13 miles to SR 471. Turn right and continue to the park entrance on the right.

August 2014: Finger Lakes National Forest

Hector, New York
WEBSITE

THE PARK
In 1790 the Federal government gave away this former Iroquois land in 600-acre lots to Revolutionary War veterans. Settlers came, cleared the land and after 100 years of grinding a living out of marginal soils, mostly left. Between 1890 and 1930 more than half the farms and over a million acres of farmland were abandoned in south central New York State. Back came the Federal government. Between 1938 and 1941, over 100 farms were purchased in the area now in the National Forest. As this was done on a farm-by-farm basis not everyone was willing to sell, so today the forest lands are here and not there and sometimes over that way. In 1982 the forest was shuffled among federal agencies and became the Finger Lakes National Forest, New York’s only national forest and America’s smallest.  

THE WALKS
The main activity in Finger Lakes National Forest takes place on the orange-blazed Interloken Trail that runs 12 miles north-to-south up the spine of the park’s largest contiguous tract of land. This is really an easy go for your dog as it weaves through second-growth forest and old-time pastureland. With a car shuttle you could complete the entire route or use the many intersecting trails to create loops of varying duration. Horses are only allowed in the southern sections where the terrain is a bit steeper; bikes and horses are both allowed north of Teeter Pond.Canine hikers may prefer a tour on the 1.25-mile Gorge Trail (Mark Smith Road off Route 79) or the Ravine Trail (at the Blueberry Patch Campground) that are reserved for foot traffic only. These are kinder, gentler gorges than the other nearby gullies. The stream’s work is less frenetic here and the soft dirt trail works along a rounded hillside. Both link with the Interloken Trail for an extended exploration of the forest.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
The National Forest currently manages 1,400 acres as shrubland, a relatively uncommon habitat in the Finger Lakes. For canine hikers this means stretches of open-air travel with long views and maybe a bit of sunshine on the neck. Management is designed to maintain and promote fruit production so you may be able to pluck a blueberry or two in your travels.

DIRECTIONS
Forest headquarters are at 5218 State Route 414, north of Watkins Glen. To reach the Interloken Trail, turn right on Schuyler County Route 2, a half-mile north of the Ranger Station. Follow CR 2 for 4.0 miles until you reach the Blueberry Patch Campground and parking area.  

 

July 2014: Chapin Forest Reservation

Kirtland, Ohio
WEBSITE

THE PARK
When this land of glacier-formed ledges and towering forests was threatened with logging after World War II, Frederic H. Chapin purchased 390 acres and turned it over to the the State of Ohio. The park is especially popular during the winter when nordic skiers gather at the Pine Lodge Ski Center to take advantage of the groomed trails, fireplace and amenities. Storms blowing across Lake Erie clip the elevated ledges here and begin dropping the snow for which this part of Northeast Ohio is famous.  

THE WALKS
Chapin Forest serves up more than five miles of trails to hike with your dog, mostly on the blue blazes of the Buckeye Trail that follows a serpentine route across the park. The most dramatic scenery under the majestic climax forest are among the ledges and rock outcroppings of Sharon conglomerate but these paths are restricted and open only to guided walks, which are scheduled regularly throughout the year. First time visitors to Chapin Forest will want to take dogs on the 1.5-mile Lucky Stone Loop. Like most of the trails that wind through the mature woods, this wide path is formed from compacted stone and fine gravel and mostly paw-friendly. After a moderate, tongue-wagging climb to the top of the ledges the Lucky Stone rolls merrily along. The highlight comes at a break in the trees where the view on a clear day reaches all the way to Lake Erie and the Cleveland skyline about 18 miles away. There is no finer overlook in Northeast Ohio. There are other half-hour canine hiking loops at either end of the park. You can also take your dog on any combination of small loops off the Buckeye Trail that acts as a spine to the mostly linear trail system. However you craft your dog’s hiking day in Chapin Forest Reservation, you will be in no hurry to leave.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
The Stories In the Stone Trailis a short loop around Quarry Pond that operated in the early 1800s, extracting Berea sandstone. Stone blocks from this quarry were hauled by wagon two miles north to lay the foundation for Kirtland Temple, the first temple built by the Church of Latter Day Saints. Joseph Smith, latter-day prophet and founder of the Mormons, was quarry foreman from 1833 to 1836.

DIRECTIONS
Take Exit 193 from I-90 and head south on SR 306, Chillicothe Road. The main park entrance is on the right at 10090 after crossing Eagle Road. An alternate entrance can be reached by continuing to Chardon Road, making a right and another right on Hobart Road. 

 

June 2014: Noanet Woodlands

Dover, Massachusetts
WEBSITE

THE PARK
This land was cleared for settlement and industry early in the 19th century. Samuel Fisher, Jr. used Noanet Brook to operate a sawmill, producing lumber to raise the blossoming town of Dedham. Later, the Dover Union Iron Company installed a large rolling and slitting mill that made barrel hoops, wheel rims, nail plates, and nail rods from forged iron. In 1923, Amelia Peabody purchased Mill Farm on Dedham Street and for the next six decades she shaped the Noanet Woodlands of today. She bequeathed the original land for the 695-acre park in 1984. 

THE WALKS
You can’t get there from here. Noanet Woodlands is a paradise for trail dogs; Caryl Park doesn’t allow dogs. There is no parking for Noanet Woodlands, you have to park in Caryl Park. You can’t get there from here. It can be confusing to newcomers but dogs are allowed on the trail/road from the parking lot that leads into the woodlands. Alternately you can park be hind the ballfields and enter the woodlands back there. Just don’t let your dog stray off that golden path. This is flat-out one of the best places in Massachusetts to hike with your dog. The trails are wide and paw-friendly dirt and, especially in the early going, woodchips. There may be more dogs than people in the Noanet Woodlands at any given time and leashes are as seldom seen as unhappy canine hikers. There are 17 miles of trails packed into the park, with the most common destination being the modest 387-foot Noanet Peak. Many routes lead to the open, rocky summit with its one-way view straight into downtown Boston. Most involve only modest exertion save for a short, steep final surge to the top.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
Today the mill pond is postcard worthy, nestled into a peaceful sylvan setting. But this was a serious industrial site 150 years ago. The dam stood 24 feet high and the mill was powered by a mammoth 36-foot overshot waterwheel. A flood destroyed the dam in 1876 but Amelia Peabody rebuilt it in 1954 to restore the pond, without the hustle and bustle of the mill.

DIRECTIONS
From Dover Center, take Dedham Street east .6 mile to Caryl Park entrance and parking on right. 

 

May 2014: Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Asheville, North Carolina
WEBSITE

THE PARK
European settlers moving into the area in the late 1700s named this creek for a horseshoe-shaped bend near the French Broad River. Over the next hundred years the entire area was logged and bustled with more than 100 homes and 20 businesses. After the Forest Service purchased this land it set aside 1,100 acres around Bent Creek for research by the Appalachian Forest Experiment Station, which Congress had established in 1921 as one of the oldest experimental forests in the East. In 1935, about 5,200 acres were added and the Experimental Forest now includes most of the Bent Creek Watershed. In 1942 the creek was dammed and the 13-acre Lake Powhatan formed to become the center for recreational activity in the forest. 

THE WALKS
There are no great destinations in Bent Creek Forest, no spectacular waterfalls, no awe-inspiring views. What there is, however, is great woods-walking with your dog on gated jeep roads and foot trails that ease you up the slopes on long, sinuous hikes. Bent Creek and its 44 miles of trails is not the place to come for a quick leg-stretcher. Your dog will find the easiest trotting around Lake Powhatan and down beside Bent Creek (and plenty of company on the trails as well.) These stream-bottom communities are thick with rhododendron and stands of white pine and hemlock which thin out the further you venture up the slopes. One of the best hiking loops with your dog without driving too deep into the forest is up the Ledyard and Wolf branches north of Lake Powhatan. In the course of almost five miles you pass through fern-encrusted clearcuts, regenerating hardwood forests and selected harvest plots.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
Woodland Indians long used fire to maintain an open understory but the U.S. Forest Service has historically waged war on forest fires. Recent thinking has postulated that decades of suppression have made fires burn hotter and more destructive when they do occur. In recent years prescribed fires have become a critical tool in forest management but there are few long-term studies to confirm the benefits of fire to a healthy hardwood ecosystem. Prescribed fire is one of the multi-year research studies taking place in Bent Creek Experimental Forest so don’t be surprised if your dog sniffs fresh charred wood on one of your hikes here.

DIRECTIONS
From I-26 take Exit 33 and go 1.8 miles south to Wesley Branch Road on the right. Turn and follow into the forest and the information board on the right (all paved). 

 

April 2014: Oregon Ridge Park

Cockeysville, Maryland
WEBSITE

THE PARK
An active mining community thrived at Oregon Ridge in the mid-19th century. Irish immigrants and emancipated slaves did most of the hard work pulling first Geothite, containing iron ore, and then highgrade Cockeysville marble from the hills. The iron was smelted in a furnace along Oregon Branch and the marble was used to build the United States Capitol and the Washington Monument. The Oregon Ridge Iron Works supported a company town of 220 workers and their families before the business died away in the 1870s. Today Oregon Ridge Park is Baltimore County’s largest park with more than 1000 acres of woods and meadows. 

THE WALKS
Although you get under way with a pleasant stroll into the forest across the wooden bridge spanning the Grand Canyon of Oregon Ridge (an abandoned open pit mine), it doesn’t take long to realize you have signed on for a serious hike here. The Loggers Red Trail pulls you to the top of the ridge - elevated enough to launch hang gliders - and your pick of nine short trails. The full loop of the property leads south along the yellow trails and will add 4 stream crossings and serious hill climbs to your outing. All told there are 6 miles of trails at Oregon Ridge. All are wooded and almost uniformly wide and soft to the paw. The lone exception is the rocky slopes of the S. James Campbell Trail which are a trade-off for the scenic trekking in the ravine. Be sure to make your way to the half-mile Lake Trail, a rollicking romp above the green waters of the 45-foot deep Oregon Lake, a flooded old iron quarry.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
An interpretive trail leads to exhibits on the bountiful natural resources that Oregon Ridge provided to settlers in the region: water, timber, iron, marble and rich farmland. The trail begins at recreated tenant houses of the Oregon Ridge Iron Works just below the Nature Center.

DIRECTIONS
From GA 53 in the center of town take Burnt Mountain Road north out of town until it joins GA 136 in three miles. Bear right and continue east another three miles to the parking area on the right.

March 2014: Burnt Mountain Preserve

Jasper, Georgia
WEBSITE

THE PARK
After the Cherokees were rudely dispatched in the early 1830s, Scotch-Irish from the Carolinas made their way to Georgia to settle in the southernmost mountains of the Appalachians. They raised what they needed to survive but the soil on the 3,000-foot mountains was thin and the growing season short. Nevertheless, by the Civil War Burnt Mountain Community boasted a church, a school, a grist mill and the mark of existence - a post office. This mountain, which has two peaks, was also known as Burrell Top since the brothers Joseph and Grandville lived here. But the future lay in the developing valleys not on the mountaintops so the Burrells sold out to George Marble tycoon Sam Tate and moved to Alabama to raise cotton. Tate had grand plans to develop the “prettiest town on a mountain in the South” with a lodge, a golf course, and an airfield all designed by the leading architects of the day. Connahaynee Lodge opened on Burnt Mountain peak but the Great Depression lurked around the corner. Tate Mountain Estates filed for bankruptcy in 1934 and the lodge burned to the ground in March of 1946. There has been no further development on the mountain for three-quarters of a century and the trail system on Burnt Mountain, now owned by Pickens County, was built in 2006 by the Mountain Stewards, a private advocacy group. 

THE WALKS
The canine hiking on Burnt Mountain comes from three stacked loops that with satisfy any level of trail dog. You will start out at an elevation of 2,500 feet and how far you drop off the mountain will determine your dog’s hiking day. The log-lined trails travel through stands of second-growth hardwoods (most of the trees were cleared for the Connahaynee Lodge) with little understory so during the winter months there are impressive south-facing vistas. The Crest Trail stubbornly defies sliding down the hillsides and will be completed in an easy 15 minutes by any canine hiker. The yellow-blazed Preserve Trail winds 400 feet down Burnt Mountain but just before it appears you are on a never-ending descent it makes a sharp left-turn to return to the mountaintop after a mile. These are just warm-ups for athletic dogs to bound a full 800 feet down into Champion Creek Valley. There are some switchbacks cut into the two-mile Champion Creek Trail but this hike will set any dog to panting.  

SOMETHING SPECIAL
The south-facing views off Burnt Mountain look down to Marble Hill and the heart of Georgia’s marble industry. Gleaming white Georgia marble was used to craft the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial. Closer to home Georgia marble was used to build the Tate Elementary School, government offices and the 19,000-square foot Tate House constructed by Colonel Sam Tate, president of the Georgia Marble company. This is one of the few places in the world where pink marble is found and you can see it used in Tate’s classically-flavored, Renaissance Revival mansion.

DIRECTIONS
From GA 53 in the center of town take Burnt Mountain Road north out of town until it joins GA 136 in three miles. Bear right and continue east another three miles to the parking area on the right.