Last year, I put together a Men’s Hike at Land Between the Lakes. We had a great time so I decided to do another one this year. I decided I would take the guys to Montgomery Bell State Park, an easy 10.5 mile hike around the park where the scenery entertains us with two lakes, a beaver dam, replica cabin and presbyterian church, and decent hiking trails. I really like hiking this trail and I knew the guys would too.
Unfortunately, some guys were not able to make this trip. Nevertheless we had a real good time regardless of the rain shower we ended up receiving (more on that later). It ended up just being three of us, Kevin (not me) and Mike and I. There were others that really wanted to go but already had plans that weekend.
Mike met Kevin and I at Subway in Clarksville and followed us to Montgomery Bell State Park. We arrived at the park about 10:30. We went in to the visitor’s center to get a map and check out the stuffed albino deer. We looked at the weather that called for a small percentage of rain later in the day. We were hoping we might get to the shelter before then.
We gathered our packs, took the obligatory trailhead picture and off we went.
There are a few trails at Montgomery Bell. We mostly stayed on the MB Trail but also utilized the blue Wildcat Trail and the Orange Creech Lake Trail. Most trails I’ve been on mark the trails by blazes but I figure Montgomery Bell State Park finds these little metal icons last longer than the painted blazes do.
Last time I hiked this trail, I hiked with my buddy Kevin. He’s behind me in this failed attempt at a group selfie. Most of the trail from the Visitor Center to the first bridge crossing is uneventful. It’s a lot of walking through the woods. Last time, Kevin and I spotted some deer but not this time. We also learned where we missed the trail last time and made sure to cut left after the maintenance department building this time so that we would get to see the small portion of trail we missed last time.
I didn’t take near the amount of pictures or videos this time. I didn’t feel like pulling the camera out every five seconds and we were having pretty good conversation while we hiked that it really didn’t dawn on me to grab the camera. Either that or I just wanted to enjoy the hike without looking through the viewfinder.
We made our way to another section of the creek and decided to take the packs off and rest. We all dipped in the water to wash our faces since it was really humid and hot. Then we set down at the picnic tables to drink water and have a snack. We hadn’t been hiking long but we didn’t want to rush the hike. We had all day to get to the shelter so we enjoyed a slow hike.
When I say slow I really mean it. We put our packs back on and just as soon as we started to head into the woods, we literally sat and watch three squirrels play in a tree for near fifteen minutes and talked about them. Finally, we decided to make our way to the ore pits. These are some pretty neat land markers where they used to dig for iron ore and process them leaving these pits in the ground.
We came across one pit that was able to hold water and we stayed there looking down at it talking about everything we possibly could think of as we watched two snapping turtles bask in the sun and I told some frog gigging stories because there were three bullfrogs down there. I also spent some time practicing my bullfrog calls. I don’t think it worked.
After the ore pits, we came to the McAdow Cabin and the presbyterian church. We sat our packs down at the cabin and walked around it checking it out then walked down the road to the church where we sat inside on the old wooden pews talking about church and where we came from religiously. I learned a lot from Mike and Kevin on their faith backgrounds. I also spent some time singing from the hymnal in a very Gregorian -meets-Southern Baptist kinda way.
Once we had rested for a while sitting in the church, we walked back to the cabin and grabbed our packs, crossed the creek and headed back into the woods. The creek is a very beautiful area back behind the cabin. I really enjoy hiking that portion. This part of the trail seemed a little longer than last time. Not sure if it was because we were taking our time to hike or somebody lengthened the trail out (that’s a joke).
There is a shelter midways with a bench underneath. We decided to have a seat when we got there and Mike and I spent some time reading all the “wuz heres.” Interesting how many people loves other people or wuz there at one time or another. I think somebody’s dog even scribbled on the wooden roof that it was there enjoying a doggie treat.
Back on the trail again, we made our way around the backside of the park, through what feels like the backyards of some houses. I was really screaming for some sweet tea and had I saw someone sitting outside, I sure would’ve begged them for some. It was hot.
We finally made it to Lake Woodhaven. We stopped to check out the scenery and realized a large storm cloud was beginning to move in. After a few minutes of watching the water bounce off the bank, we decided to make our way down the trail hoping to beat the front. The wind began to pick up and it was amazing to say the least. It’s been a while since I have been in the woods with a storm moving in.
The leaves began to turn over and we knew that we were about to be in for it. The tops of the trees began to sway as the wind swept through from top to bottom. We watched the trees lean from side to side and a few branches came falling down near by. I looked at the guys and told them it’s probably best if we kept moving rather than sitting here waiting on it to pass over. We were stuck in the woods with no hard shelter for protection from any falling debris.
We began to feel a drop or two and so we eased our way down the trail. Suddenly the bottom fell out of the rain cloud. I immediately reached into my pack and pulled out my rain jacket which I had stored right on top because I knew this was coming. Kevin sat waiting on me and Mike to get our gear on. Unfortunately for Mike, he couldn’t get to his rain gear so him and Kevin hiked the rest of the way unprotected from the torrential downpour. I was prepared and hardly got wet. I just put my head down and hiked on.
Once we finally arrived to the Woodland Shelter, we all sat down for a rest and to get out of the rain. we talked about where to hang the hammocks and I found my place. When the rain slacked off, I set mine up. I absolutely love my hammock and think it’s the best piece of equipment I have. There would be no fire tonight. Too much undergrowth to find wood. Besides, it was all wet now so we would have to do without fire to warm us up, dry us off and build a little camp morale.
We decided to al take a nap or at least a rest. There’s nothing like walking a few miles, setting up the hammock and passing out for a day nap.
When I woke up, I decided to do a little journaling, smoke my corncob with some Black Cavendish and listen to the crickets. We then decided to walk down to the spring to fill up our water bottles. Another thing I love about hiking with a group is the comraderie. We all went down and share the pumping experience and made small talk about the spring, the creek, the shelter, the hammocks, the weather, the humidity and my frog calling.
After the water filling extravaganza, it was time to get prepared to make supper. I would be having the Mountain House Lasagna. It’s a staple in my hiking diet. I also picked up the Backpacker Pantry’s Cheesecake. I can’t tell you how awesome that stuff tasted. I highly recommend it. Dang that was some good stuff. It was so good I couldn’t hold out. I had to share it with the guys.
Because we didnt get a fire going, we sat in the dark and talked through the night. The bedtime discussion revolved mostly around our jobs and what we do. That was some good talking. Eventually, we decided that it was time for bed so we made our way to our resting spot, I in my hammock and killed it for the night. I have to say I think I’m getting the hang (no pun intended) on how to hang a hammock. That was the best sleep I have ever gotten in the hammock. I slept like a rock.
Come morning time, we all started to move around and jest about Mike’s snoring. I’m not sure how Kevin got any sleep that night. I could hear Mike twenty feet away with my earbuds in. After breakfast, we filtered some more water, packed everything away, and just about the time were wrapping up, four men came around the corner.
They had slept at the Wildcat shelter the night before and walked over to our shelter. Only one guy was carrying a pack so we don’t know really the whole story of what they were up to. They were friends who occasionally get together to hike and now they just do mostly “day hikes.” They seemed like they already had a beer or two that morning. They were nice but I felt a little unsure of what they were up to. We said our goodbyes and they headed off ahead of us a few hundred yards.
We decided not to do the full loop but instead head down the trail that cuts the loop in half so we could walk by the lake and check out the scenery. Kevin and I hiked this last year and there is no scenery on the backside so we talked Mike into going down the center of the park. I’m glad we did. It was worth it to walk lakeside for a while.
We came across a few men fishing but not catching anything. We enjoyed the beauty of the lake which is a small lake and moseyed our way lakeside till it was time to turn left away from the lake.
After we passed the lake, the trail parallels a creek for a ways before turning left up and up and up and up and up. Geez, I didn’t think we’d ever reach the top. It was a gradual climb but a aggravating climb. It was already hot and humid and reaching the top, I believe I down a liter of water just standing there. We were within a mile from the trucks so we gathered an extra inch of energy and made our ways back to the Visitor’s Center.
I like hiking Montgomery Bell State park. It’s an easy hike, a fun hike and plenty to look at. Once we got back to the trucks, we changed shoes and shirts and wiped the saliva from our mouths because next stop was the Amish store in Cunningham TN. A turkey sandwich on sourdough bread with a Mountain Dew and a fried pie for me and a gallon of Birch Beer for my friend Kevin. We grabbed our food and sat on the front porch in the swings and allowed heaven to wash all over us.
It was really a great hike, rain, humidity, frogs and all. Check out CloudHiking’s post of the MB Trail.
Also, to read about my last Montgomery Bell State Park hike, go HERE.