Sunday, January 1, 2017

Three Creeks South Loop

Happy New Year! I am so excited to see what 2017 brings for my family.

We had a case of cabin fever after a long winter break filled with family activities, traditions, and way too much screen time. So out to the trails we went, a perfect cure for cabin fever and a refreshing way to start the year. It's been a couple of months since we hiked, which made this venture not only fulfilling, but also a good workout.

We headed to Three Creeks Conservation Area. While it's our favorite hiking spot, we haven't been there in over year, because we've been exploring new territories. We did use the trail head at Three Creeks for a winter solstice celebration for the last 2 years, where we decorated the trees with animal food, and welcomed longer days with a night picnic and hot beverages by a campfire. Eli and I also recently went just a ways into the woods to forage for craft supplies (more on that later). But it's been far too long since we've gone down to the creek for a good hike.

Remnants of our Winter Solstice celebration - bird seed bagels and orange peels hanging from the trees at the trail head.
En route to the hike, we told the boys our destination, and Lex said, "We're going to Three Creeks!?! What a great way to start the new year! That's my favorite hiking spot!" And the very fact that he has a "favorite hiking spot" makes me feel like I've earned a parenting medal.

So off we went. If you're interested in taking this hike, here is a map to the Three Creeks area. 
We went to the Meyer Lane entrance and followed the south loop. It was right around 2 miles. We've never been on this particular trail in Three Creeks but have been on many of the other trails and are really familiar with the terrain Unfortunately, my phone was not cooperating so the Geotracker app couldn't capture everything I wanted it to.

This particular trail is a multi-use trail. It's for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. That means it's nice and wide in most places.

The trail starts with 1/4 mile descent over rocky terrain. It was actually pretty tough to walk over for such a long time, but we stayed to the sides when we could and otherwise, just wove our way through the smoothest areas.

It was  in the low 40's with a slight breeze, so we were bundled up and told the boys to keep moving to stay warm. It worked.

We have long preferred winter hikes because you can see so much more through the trees.

And the winter sky was perfect. I had to keep reminding myself to look up.

But this is the view that we come to Three Creeks for. Heavily wooded trails that make you want to just keep going and going.

We found a lookout over a cliff - the kind where we don't let the boys out of our reach.

The trail just kept going down and down. The way we usually go has a very steep and treacherous descent but it gets you to the creek rather quickly. On this trail, it's not as steep, and it seemed like it took a while to get to the creek.

But at least it was pretty.

Albeit muddy.

We saw some horses. It looked like so much fun! 

And then we saw it.

The creek bed - the same creek where we have waded, skipped stones, found crawdads, picnicked, "accidentally" slipped in... We have spent hours on the banks of this creek with the boys.  We love how wide the banks are (at least when it's relatively dry) because you could probably walk up and down this entire creek if you wanted to.

Usually it's around this time in our hike when the boys throw a rock that's too big or "slips" on a rock and ends up with a wet foot. So on this particular hike, we took a minute to explain to them that under no circumstances were their feet to get wet on this hike. It was nearly freezing cold after all. It must have worked because the only one who got a little wet was me - when I stood too close to splashing rocks.

The boys do love to throw rocks though so we always plan to stop when we get to the creek. It's funny though - in all of our hikes. They have never experienced this before. Skipping stones takes on a new meaning when there's a layer of ice over the creek.

And someone may or may not have been so involved with filming them that one may or may not have stepped in a huge pile of horse poop. Maybe. 

Here's another view of the never ending creek.

Check out this cool structure we found. It looked like maybe someone was trying to build a Christmas tree? Eli excitedly contributed to it with a couple of flat rocks of his own. Hopefully it wasn't Andy Goldsworthy who built it or at least someone who welcomes artistic collaboration from a 5 year old.

And how amazing is this tree that has grown up right between the cliffs. Magnificent. 

Then there's this cute kid.

 This picture below - I can hardly believe that this isn't some kind of local monument. Can you see the face in it? And the nose - it's actually a cave! A cave nose in the cliff face. Once I saw it, I couldn't stop seeing it. And it's also the picture that Jeremy chose to post on Google maps so it's out there for everyone to see now. The cliff face with a cave nose. I absolutely love this kind of thing.

 And along the creek we went.

Such a beautiful winter day.

Another spot for ice skipping stones.

And then we looped back to the uphill climb of our hike. And up hill it was. My legs felt like jello by the end - in a good way.

And when it was all said and done, Lex said, "Hashtag fun hike." Yep. #funhike

Happy New Year and Happy Hiking to you!

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