Another semester down and another hike to do. However, this was a small day hike but it was a joy to get out to walk in the woods again. This trip took me to a local trail at Henry Horton State Park thirty minutes from the house. I didn’t know what to expect but it proved to destroy any expectations I could have had. Henry Horton State Park is offering more and more than they used to and I’m quite pleased to see that this park is finally up-scaling to offer many events and trails for the outdoors enthusiast. I parked at the camp store just off Highway 31. Although it was closed, I grabbed a map and checked out my options of trails. The Hickory Ridge Trail has two loops; inner and outer loop. Of course I chose the outer loop however I noticed that it also connects to another trail so I had to oblige and put two trails together to make it worth my travels. I started at the Camp Store parking area. It curls though some trees then a small forest road crossing to the parking area where the trailhead actually is. From there the trail takes off with plenty of rocky scenes. A campsite resides to the right where some campers had already settled. I may have been too early for them because it didn’t look that they had began to stir. I arrived at the first fork that offered the inner or outer loop. The outer loop continued through the woods curving through the trees offering birds of color and sounds and vegetation of Tennessee kind. I wrapped up some recording on my phone and tucked my phone in my pocket when I jumped a cute little fawn who took off just ahead of me and never looked back. Twenty feet down the trail I believe I ran into its mother staring at me from a distance. She saw me first. More walking brought me to a structure of rocks that I was guessing was a spring house but was unsure. I shot some more video of the structure and daydreamed of who would have constructed it and for what reasons. I spent some time looking around the structure and decided to move forward. The trail came to a clearing where workers had put rocks down for what may be swampy when it rains too much. I was very thankful for their hard work not just because of their attempts to keep my feet dry but also it created a very picturesque area. I came to another fork where my connector trail would take me to the Adeline Wilhoite River Trail. The trail commuted to the right where it worked back into the trees for a distance. It led me past a rock wall and paralleled the wall for yards before cutting up through the wall. A little further it opened up to cross another forest road. The trail then cut through hedges and tall grass before coming to the fork of the Adeline Wilhoite River Trail Loop. I went right anticipating the backcountry campsites and overlook deck. The trail would offer mud then dirt off and on through pines and overgrowth. I grabbed a perfect hiking stick from a fallen pine tree that fit my hand and was good enough to not cause discomfort by weight or length. Here I began the first incline of the trail. Compared to my previous experiences, this incline was small. It didn’t make me work hard enough to lose breath but the humidity of the day caused enough sweat to fill buckets. When the trail made it to the top of the incline, it cut left and lined the ridge for a while. Boulders began making themselves known and I even saw a Dr. Pepper can sitting on one. The backcountry campsites became visible moments after reaching the ridge-top. I never saw campsite three, found campsite two but didn’t follow the trail to see campsite one. The trail led to campsite one to the left but I took the trail that led down a steep decline to the right informing me of the overlook ahead. The steps on the overlook were a tad narrow. When I reached the top of the overlook, I noticed it overlooked a field. I was a little let down because the view I desired was not of a field but the Duck River. Further in the hike I noticed two other deer stands and began to wonder if maybe this overlook was built not to be an “overlook” but to be a glorified deer stand. In any case, I spent a moment then climbed down to make my way towards the river. The river scene on the Adeline Wilhoit Trail is brief. They do provide a bench for contemplation or rest but the river opening is a few yards long then the trail cuts back into the trees. At the fork you can take the left to continue the loop back to the connector of the Hickory Ridge Trail or you can go right which takes the River Trail which I’m sure has more water vistas. This was not my direction for today. I went left and the trail eased its way back up the ridge. No extreme climbing. The trail meanders back and forth (not necessarily switch backs) through the woods till it reaches back to the where the loop begins. I took the connector trail back to the Hickory Ridge Outer Loop and turned back towards the trailhead. So far the trail had not offered much in the way of views or vistas. It has been mostly woods and undergrowth with the songs of birds, crickets, tree frogs and wind. Towards the end of the trail (depending which way you turn at the fork it could be the beginning of the trail) I came across a tree that was very interesting.
Tradition says these trees were made by the indians bending the sapling over in the direction they wanted to remember and tying it down. Over time it grew with a bend. Check out this link to learn more. This one had a hollowed out area that contained some brown liquid. Not sure what that is. I lodged my phone in the bark of a birch tree and took a picture to give an idea of size. Further down the trail I came across another tree that was tall and hollow. I leaned my phone against a small tree and took another picture to contrast size. More towards the end of my hike I came across an area that is rocky and provided many holes and ditches that went deep in the ground. These are a gnome’s playground. The temperatures were very cool down in the bottom and provided temporary relief from the humidity above. I finally came to the original fork that leads back to the trailhead and further to the camp store. I was stopped briefly by a camper’s small dog that refused to let me by. I reached out to show I was harmless and implore for passage. It gave in because I had paid the price with a belly rub. I smiled to the camper and continued to the Camp Store. Unfortunately, a Fudge Round was not in order at the moment but a coke machine providing Mt. Dews were available. I put in my money and received as a reward for my hard work a hot Mt. Dew. The coke machine was on but I believe they forgot to fill it with freon. You better believe I chugged it anyway. The Hickory Ridge Trail and the Adeline Wilhoite River Trail surpassed my expectations more than it let me down with the overlook. I was very pleased with the hike. All in all, it was 6.5 miles. I can’t wait to take the wife and son back to do some backcountry camping. Hike out, camp out then hike back. Should be a fun trip. I do recommend if you are in the Henry Horton State Park area to treat yourself to this great day hike that shouldn’t take you more than 2-3 hours. Don’t expect views but do expect solitude and fresh air. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrSgJHEpThE