Over the last few years, it has become popular for state parks to offer guided first day hikes (on the first day of the year) to get people outside, and to start the year off right. This year, I decided to jump on the bandwagon with my own first day hike.
After a little advertising, I was surprised to find 9 people wanting to go on the hike. They made a good choice. I decided on a 6 mile loop with moderate terrain and great scenery; it follows Wolf Run, Bean Run, and Bowmans Creek in SGL 57. It really is the perfect dayhike, with tumbling mountain streams, big rocks, streamside hiking, a view, beautiful forests, isolation, and a stunning hike along Bowmans Creek. Part of our hike is described as Hike 29 (White Gold Loop) in Hiking the Endless Mountains.
After a drive deep into the gamelands, we reached the parking area along Wolf Run. Our hike follows unblazed and unmarked trails that are well-established and just a pleasure to hike. The trails are also used by mountain bikers. We climbed up along Wolf Run as boulders and cliffs adorned the woods. At the top of the glen, there were red spruce trees. We left the loop for a hike to Coyote Rocks Vista. The view was forbidding with a cold wind, flurries, and dark skies. Everyone liked the view, but we did not linger.
Our hike continued as the trail crossed the plateau west to Bean Run. This is a superb woodland hike that everyone enjoyed. In summer there are meadows of ferns and ground pine under stately hardwoods. It is simply beautiful.
Next was our descent along Bean Run. The trail followed this pristine stream along an old grade with more spruce. Huge boulders soon crowded the trail, making it a beautiful place. One angled boulder created a small cave. Bean Run was higher than I expected and it took time for everyone to cross on a fallen cherry tree. No one fell in the water.
Our loop continued by following Bowman Creek, where two mountain bikers passed us on bikes with large, fat tires. This was everyone’s favorite section, with comments such as “it’s like a rainforest” or “it’s like a jungle”. It is simply a sublime hike. The trail closely follows scenic Bowman Creek through tunnels of laurel and rhododendron. Hemlocks tower overhead as the creek danced over rapids and swirled in pools. It’s the type of hiking you wished never ended. Everyone was impressed. People had the look in their eyes that said I never knew this was here.
We reached the end of the loop. Everyone enjoyed the hike and wanted to go hiking again. After a quick stop at Beth Run Falls, we all headed our separate ways.
2016 is off to the right start.