Monday, April 20, 2015

Hike Report: Huntsville State Park

Donna and I hiked Huntsville State Park back in March, 2008. You can see the report for that hike on our website, Living the Good Life. The park has about 20 miles of trails, so on this trip we tried to hike some different trails. The park has an excellent trail map, by the way.

For our hike today, we started from our campsite, #20 in the Raven Hill Camping Area. We walked just a short distance east on the paved park road and then veered left into the woods on the Coloneh Trail, which at this point parallels the park road. After about a quarter mile, the trail comes back out on the park road to cross Big Chinquapin Creek, one of the main feeder creeks for Lake Raven. Across the creek, we ducked into the woods again for a short stretch to the other park road, which we crossed before joining the Dogwood Trail..

The Coloneh Trail near the start of our hike. This is typical of the trails we hiked on this day.

Signage is good on the trails.
Almost like walking through a tunnel.

We turned west on the Dogwood Trail. We passed a junction to the north and continued west, soon crossing a minor park road (see picture above). The trail emerged at a kiosk. Such kiosks are available at numerous places along the trails at Huntsville State Park, and the kiosks are indicated on the trail map. We then turned sharply north, staying on the Dogwood Trail. For a few hundred yards, this stretch of trail followed a power line right of way, then ducked into the woods behind the Prairie Branch Camping Area. Farther on, we ran into the Prairie Branch Loop Trail and followed it north for almost a mile.

Kiosks like these are located in numerous places along the trails. In fact, their locations are indicated on the trail map.
This part of the trail follows a power line right-of-way
Signage indicating where we get on the Chinquapin Trail.
We then turned south on the Chinquapin Trail. At roughly one-half mile, we crossed a spur to the Lone Star Trail. After another half mile, we reached the Nature Center, where we took a short break. After resuming our hike, we crossed the main park road and continued on the Chinquapin Trail. It slowly worked down to Big Chinquapin Creek, which is about one-third mile from the Nature Center. Just before the creek, we crossed an equestrian trail. A long boardwalk crosses the small creek. The surrounding area is quite swampy.

The Nature Center, along the main park road.

Long boardwalk over Big Chinquapin Creek.
It gets pretty swampy in some areas. This is near Big Chinquapin Creek.

Big Chinquapin Creek, looking upstream.
After crossing the creek, the trail began working up slowly, crossing another equestrian trail at about a quarter mile. Only 2 short stretches of equestrian trail are marked on the map, but I would guess there are more trails available.

We continued on the Chinquapin Trail until we neared the Coloneh Camping Area, where we exited the trail and followed the paved road back to our camp.

All of the trails we followed were well marked and well maintained. There is a lot of traffic on these trails, so they are clearly defined. However, since we were hiking during the week, we met only 4 other walkers and only 2 bike riders, but I’m sure the weekends are busy on the trails. There is very little elevation change, but roots are common and require attention. There are patches of sand from time to time, but not enough to be a problem. The mosquitoes were quite aggressive on our hike, and there was little breeze to help keep them away or to keep us cool from the high humidity levels. I would estimate the length of this hike to be under 5 miles.

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