Browsed by
Tag: waterfall

Limekiln State Park

Limekiln State Park

into the foreste2

Limekiln State Park is just south of Lucia, California on scenic coast Highway 1. It was the only stop on our Big Sur road trip that we paid for and it was worth it! There is a $10 per vehicle fee to enter the park. There are three trails in Limekiln and I would rate them moderate. Although not great in length, there are quite a few creek crossings where you balance on logs. Although we were visiting California during the intense drought, this state park remained cool and green. Each trail has a different feature, but all three wander among redwoods, through ferns and clovers, and along side creeks.

DSC_0012e2  DSC_0015e2  DSC_0016e2

DSC_0028e2  DSC_0031e2

DSC_0035e2  DSC_0039e2  DSC_0040e2

 

One trail is approximately 0.7 miles down and back to the Limekiln Falls waterfall. Limekiln Falls is about 100 feet tall and when we visited was split into two smaller trickles. Perhaps, before the drought, it flowed together as one. We asked a couple who arrived shortly before us to take our photo and the guy really got into with multiple shots and angles. He said “I mean it’s a waterfall! How often do you get to see this?” When I said “Oh we go waterfall hunting as often as we can!,” he was confused until I explained we were not from California!

DSC_0045e2  DSC_0049e2  DSC_0051e2

DSC_0052e2  DSC_0055e2  DSC_0059e2

DSC_0073e2  DSC_0077e2

A second trail goes to the kilns. This one is about a mile down and back. Four large old kilns are tucked back in the forest. These were used to extract the lime from the stones in the area from 1887-1890.

DSC_0080e2  DSC_0101e2  

DSC_0110e2  DSC_0109e2

The third trail is about .9 miles down and back. Hare Creek Trail wanders back into the redwoods following the creek. There’s no big attraction at the end and we decided to skip this one as we only had one day in Big Sur!

On the other side of the park, under the Highway 1 bridge, is a beach. This area had sand, large stones, and bluffs.

DSC_0115e2  DSC_0131e2  DSC_0122e2

Limekiln also features around 40 camping spots, some among the redwoods and some by the beach. If I make it that way again, I would love to camp here! It was so peaceful back in the redwoods. I could see kids (and adults!) exploring the creek, forest, and beach in between seeing the rest of Big Sur. This was the exact kind of spot I would have loved to play in as a kid!

DSC_0034e2

Big Sur Road Trip

Big Sur Road Trip

DSC_0442 (2)e8

We spent one full day exploring the Big Sur Coast during our recent trip to the LA area. The area known as Big Sur is several hours North of LA, especially with LA’s traffic. We got a hotel room in Morro Bay for the night on either side of our Big Sur road trip, so we could have a full day exploring the coast.

Driving straight through from Morro Bay to Monterey, which encompasses all the area known as Big Sur plus other wonderful stretches of the coast, on Highway 1 takes about 3 hours. The roads are very windy and narrow, so you have to go fairly slow. If anyone can drive without stopping, they have a lot more self control than I do. Our plan was to drive the route North and then come slowly back down the coast making all our stops. The thought process was we’d have a better idea where things are and wanted to beat the crowds to the big attractions, like McWay Falls on the Northern end. We definitely made some stops on the way North. We could not resist those rocky ocean coastlines. But for the bigger attractions, I do think it worked well.

DSC_0168e2    DSC_0152e2    DSC_0211e2

Before you go…

  • Big Sur has almost no cell phone recpetion. I printed off a dozen google maps before we went and did a lot of research on where our stops were. It’s also lacking signage in some areas, so those notes and maps really came in handy!
  • Everything is very expensive in Big Sur. Fill up on gas before you go.

Calla Lily Valley

We didn’t stop at the “right” path. In fact what we traveled down was not technically a path. I said “Let’s follow this trail!” Donovan said “That’s not a trail. That’s a path water runs down.” I said “Well I’m going to follow it anyways.” We ended up on a beautiful point along the coast all alone. The wind was strong, the flowers were pretty, the views were gorgeous, and I felt on top of the world. Lesson: Follow the path less traveled, even if it’s not technically a path.

DSC_0562e2  DSC_0596e2  DSC_0590e2

Bixby Bridge

This is a very popular stop and it was crowded. Not the best view in Big Sur, but it’s worth a quick stop. I read a tip on this blog to pull off on a dirt road to the Northeast of the bridge and it made a big difference! Almost no one else was there and it was a better view.

DSC_0551 (2)e2McWay Falls

The crown jewel of Big Sur for a good reason. Parking in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park costs $10 per vehicle, but there is plenty of parking along side the road. If the road is covered in cars going both ways, you’ve found McWay Falls. Make sure your car is not touching any of the white lines; they are serious about ticketing. We saw cops ticketing other cars. The path is short, slowly revealing the cove to you until you can see the Falls. It’s a beautiful pristine area, because there is no access to the beach by the falls. McWay Falls drops 80 feet from a granite cliff into the ocean.

DSC_0513 (2)e2  DSC_0518 (2)e2

Hermitage

The drive up to this Camaldolese Benedictine monastery is one of a kind. The drive to the top is basically a one lane road full of switch backs and breathtaking views. We didn’t go inside the monastery, but the drive up was worth it.

DSC_0700e2  DSC_0686e2

Limekiln State Park

Limekiln deserves its own post. It was beautiful and green even in the drought. I loved being back among the redwoods and the park has giant kilns, a waterfall, and beach access. This is the only stop we paid $10 to park and it was worth it. We love hiking and this was the perfect side trip to stretch our legs.

DSC_0012e2  DSC_0015e2  DSC_0073e2

Willow Creek

We were actually looking for Jade Cove when we ended up here. The views from the top parking lot are fantastic and you can drive down to walk along the beach.

DSC_0440 (2)e2   DSC_0445 (2)e2

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

This area features dozens if not hundreds of elephant seals. Humans can observe from the boardwalk.

DSC_0369 (2)e2  DSC_0382 (2)e2

There are a handful of places to eat in Big Sur and they’re all pricey. We stumbled upon the Big Sur Deli and were very happy. The sandwiches were giant and made quickly. We took ours and found a turn off along the coast to sit and eat. Great food and an ocean view for a small fraction of what you’d pay somewhere like Nepenthe.

We spent the night at 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites in Morro Bay. The hotel was clean, the complimentary br eakfast had good variety, plus our room had views of the harbor. We even got a veterans discount booking on their website! I would stay here again.

DSC_0248e2

If we had multiple days in the area, I would also want to check out: Highbridge Falls, Jade Cove, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (beyond McWay Falls), Pfeiffer Falls Trail, Point Lobos State Park, Salmon Creek Falls, and Sand Dollar Beach to name a few.

DSC_0416 (2)e2  DSC_0193e2  DSC_0534 (2)e2  DSC_0625e2

Ferne Clyffe Bork’s Falls

Ferne Clyffe Bork’s Falls

 “There is a hidden message in every waterfall. It says, if you are flexible, falling will not hurt you!”  – Mehmet Murat Ildan

Ferne Clyffe is a lot bigger state park than I originally thought. There are in fact 3 separate parts of Ferne Clyffe as shown on the map from the Department of Natural Resources website.

Ferne Clyffe Map

On previous trips (like here and here) I had always focused on the right section of Ferne Clyffe, as I think most visitors do. There’s not even a sign saying “Ferne Clyffe ->” for the middle section. But I was determined to go water fall hunting as all the snow was melting. After poking around online, I found some talk of Bork’s Falls, another waterfall in Ferne Clyffe located in the middle section.

It was not easy to get to. The melting snow made Regent Lane a hilly one lane road of mud and ice. Bork’s Falls actually flows straight across Regent Lane. I’m sure at times it’s much lower, but all the melting snow made it about half a foot deep in some sections. We parked on Regent Lane, on the East side of Bork’s Falls and rock hopped across the stream.

DSC_0003c2  DSC_0011c2

DSC_0020c2  DSC_0030c2

After exploring on top of the waterfall for a little bit, we kept walking west on Regent Ln, in hopes of finding Trail 18, our original destination. If I had one piece of feedback for the Illinois DNR about Ferne Clyffe, it’s put up signs. If the trails on the map are numbered, put some numbers up on the trails! Basically nothing but the main area is labeled in the park and everywhere we go we say “I guess it’s this one.” So for this trip we are assuming we found Trail 18. The trail head is just around the curve on Regent Lane with signs talking about native trees and cleaning your boots before entering.
DSC_0034c2

The trail itself wasn’t a bad hike and it would be easy if not for the slick snow and mud. We walked down the trail for about quarter of a mile before it crosses a large opening. Instead of continuing across the side of the opening, which is heading away from the Falls, we double backed this time following the canyon floor and the river. After all, the point of our trip was waterfall hunting.

DSC_0035c2  DSC_0043c2

  DSC_0047c2  DSC_0056c4

DSC_0061c2  DSC_0063c2  DSC_0065c3

The walk along the river was also pretty easy, until the trail we were following ended. Then we had to cross the river and pick up on the other side. More rock hopping! Luckily no one fell in.

DSC_0079c2  DSC_0083c2

The trail on the east side of the river took us past some gorgeous frozen waterfalls. I love them just as much as I love flowing waterfalls.

DSC_0086c3  DSC_0095c2  DSC_0100c2DSC_0109c2

I heard the waterfall before I saw it again. Bork’s Falls is 30-40 feet high with a wading pool beneath it.

 DSC_0134c2  DSC_0112c2  DSC_0123c3

Finally we crossed the river again and hiked up the side of the ridge to get out. It was a great hike! A perfect cure for my wonderlust that has been building over our snowy cold past few weeks. I can’t wait to go back when the trees have leaves.

DSC_0120c2

Chasing Waterfalls in Central Tennessee

Chasing Waterfalls in Central Tennessee

DSC_0417c2E

The area East of Nashville has quite a few waterfalls to offer the adventurer passing through. Before our trip I looked into, Cummins Falls State Park, Burgess Falls State Park, Virgin Falls State Natural Area, and Fall Creek Falls State Park. All four feature beautiful waterfalls and landscapes. Unfortunately, Burgess Falls had several of their main trails closed due to heavy rainfall damaging their stairs. Virgin Falls was stunning, but a 10 mile hike that lots of people choose to do overnight. Sleeping in a tent next to a waterfall… sign me up! But we only had one day in our road trip scheduled for this area, so Virgin Falls was cut from the list as well. That left us with Cummins Falls and Fall Creek Falls to explore on our day in Central Tennessee.

Cummins Falls is a 211 acre park with it’s main feature being a 75 feet high waterfall. There are several paths to hike and views of the falls. We decided to do the route directly to the bottom of the falls and back and it did not disappoint!

According to the website, it was about a 3 mile round trip hike. On the map we followed Overlook Trail, Shortcut Trail, Downstream Trail, and followed the gorge bottom to the falls. We spent about 2.5 hours visiting Cummins Falls. 1 hour hiking to the falls, due to how many times we stopped to take pictures and enjoy the area. 1 hour exploring at the falls and half an hour to hike back with fewer stops.

DSC_0052c2  DSC_0016c2  DSC_0053c2

DSC_0094c2  DSC_0102c2

The trail to the waterfall is a bit rugged. They don’t recommend flip flops, although I saw some others making the trip in them. I wouldn’t recommend it. We, however, often chose the most difficult path, rock hopping and crossing the river on stones to get pictures and explore. The trail back was easier as we stayed on the river bank more. There is one part where you have to cross the river via rock hopping and we had some difficulty with it.

DSC_0108c2  DSC_0136c2  DSC_0121c2

DSC_0146c2  DSC_0154c2

DSC_0171c2  DSC_0195c2

The views along the river and completely worth doing this trail. Plus, seeing the waterfall from the bottom is stunning!

DSC_0200c2

DSC_0229c2  DSC_0215c2

Cummins Falls is the 8th largest Tennessee waterfall in volume. The water pooled at the bottom of the falls goes up to about the chest of an average adult female. If you do want to stay a while and swim, bring a suit! The state park has a line of safety jackets for younger swimmers.

DSC_0203c2  DSC_0256c2

Cummins Falls is one of the most beautiful places I’ve had the pleasure to explore. I would definitely recommend this hike if you’re in the area!

DSC_0296c2  DSC_0257c2

We arrived at Fall Creek Falls at about 5 PM. Knowing we didn’t have a lot of sunlight left, we chose to visit the waterfall overlooks instead of hiking to the bottom of the falls.

DSC_0384c2  DSC_0390c2

According to the website, Fall Creek Falls is Tennessee’s largest and most visited State Park at 26,000 acres. There are four falls in the park: Fall Creek Falls is the tallest at 256 ft, Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls, and Cane Creek Cascades. See the map here.

Then we drove along the Gorge Scenic Drive stopping at some view points to see the beautiful tree covered mountains.

DSC_0429c2   DSC_0417c2

Finally, we did two quite short trails by Piney Creek Falls. One was the overlook path. The falls were a little hidden behind the trees, so this would definitely be one to hike to the bottom of if you have time.

DSC_0435c2

The second short trail we did led to a suspension bridge, but didn’t feature any views of the falls.

  DSC_0448c2  DSC_0455c2

DSC_0490c2  DSC_0473c2

We saw lots of people with bikes for their bike trail, canoes, and fishing gear. There’s also an adventure area with a zip line and other aerial obstacles, tennis courts, a golf course, and stables. I can see why this area is so popular. It offers a lot to do, very beautiful views, but isn’t too rustic. For those who want a more rustic visit, there is a long overnight trail as well.

We ate dinner and spent the night at the lodge on the State Park. Overall, it was clean and edible, but didn’t impress us in any way. If you’re going to spend some time here, I would camp if you have the gear.

DSC_0506c2

Both these areas I’m sure are packed during the summer and weekends. We visited on a Tuesday afternoon/evening in mid September and the crowds were very light.

Ghost Dance Canyon

Ghost Dance Canyon

DSC_1149c4

Dixon Springs is a 801 acre state park near Golconda, IL. The area is known for mineral-enriched water and was a health spa in the 19th century. The area today is known for cliffs, crags, boulders, and bubbling brooks that turn into waterfalls with enough rain, just a few of my favorite things.

The park contains a swimming pool and some camp grounds (although I read that they aren’t the best in the area). The trails could also use some maintenance. There were a few times that I was guessing where it went next and eventually just followed the sound of the water. The areas without a clear trail were filled with brush and Chiba’s leash became tangled too many times. That being said, it’s a lovely area for a more adventurous hiker!

There are two trails in Dixon Springs: a short down and back trail about a mile called Ghost Dance Canyon and a longer loop of Oak Tree Trail, Bluff Trail, and Pine Tree Trail. I cannot find a length for the longer loop on the internet. The longer loop is definitely the better known of the two. Ghost Dance Canyon can barely be seen on the map of the park. I had read online, however, that Ghost Dance Canyon was the real gem of the park. This time I only completed Ghost Dance Canyon, but I hope to go back for the longer loop.

DSC_1090c2

Ghost Dance Canyon begins in the parking lot for the swimming pool. You probably wouldn’t even know it was a trail just looking at it. It immediately crosses the brook, takes a left pass a sign for the trail, and goes under a highway bridge.

DSC_1114c2

After the bridge, you follow a brook for a while. There’s several points where it’s quite easy to be right next to the river and climb around on the rocks. Chiba had fun trying to snap at bubbles.

DSC_1172c2

The next turn is a tricky one, you have to cross the river, but the path isn’t well laid out. There’s a series of rocks in a line across the brook. If it was warmer, you could easily walk in the water. I did read online that the water can get high in a very rainy season and it’s not advised to cross then.

DSC_1195c

The trail picks back up here and you walk alongside a cliff.

DSC_1234c2  DSC_1247c2

Again there are several paths to walk down to the water’s edge.

DSC_1261c2  DSC_1269c2  DSC_1277c2

After this is where I became more confused and just followed the sound of falling water. The waterfall was flowing for me!

DSC_1299c2  DSC_1311c2

DSC_1315c2  DSC_1357c2

The small waterfall was lovely and river rock hopping is always a favorite for me. I do wish the state would spend some time and money cleaning up this area. Even knowing this, I’ll be back to do the longer loop!

DSC_1368c2  DSC_1393c2