Time With An Old Friend
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Distance: 20.30 Miles
Duration: 8 hours, 30 minutes
The last time I hiked Huntsville State Park was in 2008 when my dad was still alive. He came along with me and sat in the car while I hiked. It's been over 5 years since I've hiked Huntsville, so coming back was like spending time with an old friend. It also brought back many fond memories of my father.
Huntsville is a good place to get some distance hiking in. The views are not spectacular, but it's still nice to be in these woods. Nice trees. There are some scenic parts down near Lake Raven and this park is also inhabited by the endangered and elusive pileated woodpecker.
The trails are color-coded and well-marked. The trail map they provide you at the park HQ is very good. One problem with the way this park is laid out, though, is that there aren't many cut-off trails. So, once you get on a trail, you're committed to it. This comment is especially pertinent to new hikers or hikers that are accustomed to shorter hikes. If you hike 3.5 miles down one of these trails and get tired, it's another 3.5 miles back.
This park has some small hills so you periodically get some elevation training, but it is nothing major. If you decide to stay for a few days, this park has some great camping spots, too.
I do not have any photos to upload this time since I forgot to take my camera.
Bikers and Hikers Everywhere
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Distance: 7.00 Miles
Duration: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Although the day started cool, it soon warmed up, and people flocked to the park. As we hiked the Chinquapin Trail around the park, we probably encountered no fewer than 75 people, including 3 groups of at least 10 people each.
Despite the traffic on the trails, we did enjoy this hike. The trails are well-marked and maintained, and we encountered no problems. Numerous roots on the trail are probably the worst thing about this trail, and they are not bad at all.
This is a typical hike through the woods. The only unique features would be the numerous boardwalks (2 in the northern part of the hike, and another across Big Chinquapin Creek) and the lake, including the dam and spillway.
If anyone else hikes this trail, I would like to get their impression of the area just north of where the Chinquapin Trail intersects the Triple C Cutoff just north of the dam. There seemed to be a depression there where the trail dipped down for perhaps 100 yards or more. The trees and underbrush were more dense there, it seemed; very little sunlight filtered down there.
For others who might be considering this trail, pack a lunch and plan to eat at the spillway. On the south side of the spillway is a picnic table with a good view of the lake; it's a good spot for lunch.
Beautiful Park, Beautiful Trails
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Distance: 15.00 Miles
Duration: 5 hours
I really enjoyed hiking this particular park. Overall, the trails were well-marked and in great condition. There was a lot of sights to see in a forest setting.
I parked at the Ranger Station at the entrance of the Park and took the Chinquapin Trail down to the marshy area of Alligator Branch. After crossing the walkway, I took the CCC trail along the periphery of the park. I saw a family and a mountain biker.
As I came around the park, I decided to take the CCC Cutoff Trail down to the dam on Lake Raven. This was a good call as it provided a spectacular view of the lake. I had a short lunch break here and then moved on.
I was very impressed at how well the park trails were marked throughout the park, except for one point. This was in the area of the Chinquapin Cutoff near Prairie Branch Creek. Somehow I got back on the CCC trail heading north, but rather than backtrack I decided to take the CCC Cutoff Trail again down to the dam. On this second trip, I took a different trail which got me on to where I wanted to be (Chinquapin Cutoff Trail).
From there, I took the Chinquapin Trail to the CCC Trail which took me across Little Chinquapin Creek and along the southern park boundary. I hiked along the panhandle section of the park back towards the Ranger Station.
Since I was enjoying myself so much and I had some extra daylight to spare, I decided to take the Chinquapin Trail again to where it joins the Dogwood Trail. I took this along the Prairie Branch Loop trail down to the camping areas near the lodge on Lake Raven. By then it was late in the day so I headed back along the Dogwood Trail back towards the Nature Center and the Park Entrance.
Although the park was extremely beautiful, I was really surprised at the lack of wildlife. Aside from a few birds, I did not see any animals. There were a few bikers and joggers, but overall the park was fairly empty which made for a very tranquil hike.
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Distance: 6.00 Miles
A beautiful day for a hike through the piney woods. Hike was pretty flat, & easy going.
Foliage was nice and green.
My kids enjoyed it.