2019 was full of hiking for me – 106 times to be exact. Throughout the year, I was able to hike in many different state parks throughout Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Although I love every hike I go on, there are a few that stand out more than the others, so I’m going to talk about them.
Sweetwater Creek State Park
This state park is located in Lithia Springs, Georgia and is about 30 minutes from Atlanta. Going into it, I expected the park to be run down with pretty flat trails. To my surprise, it was nothing like that. The state park was very well put together, and it was very busy with hikers, dogs, and people enjoying their hammocks on the sides of the trails. I chose the White Trail that was 5.1 miles long. It was absolutely gorgeous. Towards the beginning, you come across an overlook of the Manchester Mill ruins. As you keep on going, you get to walk beside Sweetwater Creek for a while, and it is absolutely gorgeous! If you head to the state parks website, they tell you that this trail was made specifically to see wildlife and different plants. Let me tell you, it does exactly that. I really loved this hike because it offered a challenge while being surrounded by such beautiful scenery. The only downside of this hike was the amount of people there. It was very busy but still enjoyable.
Salt Fork State Park
Earlier this year, I got to travel to Ohio on a college visit. While I was there, I, of course, had to get a hike in. Salt Fork State Park is located in Cambridge, Ohio which is about an hour and 30 minutes from Columbus. Unlike the city, this state park is nothing but beautiful, rolling hills. I chose to go on the Shadbush Trail which ended up being 4 miles long. Being surrounded by the hills was breathtaking, definitely unlike anything in South Carolina. I loved this hike because it was beautiful but also because it was memory-filled. Hiking in Ohio was something that I had wanted to do for a long time and being able to was so much fun, and I’ll never forget it. The trails were very well maintained and marked.
Hocking Hills State Park
On my second trip up to Ohio, I knew I was going to be in the area of Hocking Hills, so I had to take a trip there. I had been following the Instagram page for it for a while, and I wanted to see the waterfalls so bad. Hocking Hills State Park is located in Logan, Ohio and it offers waterfall hikes, hikes through caves, lookouts, and more. When I got there, I went on the Cedar Falls and Old Man’s Cave trails. Honestly, not much hiking was really involved because both trails totaled 1.8 miles. However, I loved it because it was a really cool experience. Old Man’s Cave was really cool to see and go under. This state park was very heavily trafficked, which isn’t my favorite, but it still was a neat experience, especially if you pack a bathing suit to play at the waterfall (which I didn’t do but lots of other people did!). If I had more time, I definitely would have checked out way more trails than I did. There was a lookout trail that I wanted to see but didn’t get to. Maybe next time!
Wolf Run State Park
While on the same trip to Ohio as mentioned above, I stopped at Wolf Run State Park too. This park is located in Caldwell, Ohio. While it only offers 3 hiking trails, it’s still beautiful and a fun place to hike! While I was there, I went on a portion of the Buckeye Trail, which was 2.5 miles long (3.5 if I had hiked the whole thing but it was getting dark). This trail was so beautiful, and the whole time you walk beside Wolf Run Lake. I only passed one person heading out as I was going in, so it was very quiet and relaxing despite the climb!
Jones Gap State Park
When I went on my 99th hike, I got to go to Jones Gap State Park. This park is located in Marietta, South Carolina and offers a variety of different hiking trails. When I was there, I chose to go on the Hospital Rock Trail. This trail is 4.4 miles long and marked as strenuous. I had never been on this trail before and didn’t know what to expect but I wasn’t disappointed! The entire way, you’re going up, but you get a beautiful view of the mountains which I’m an absolute sucker for. About halfway to the top, there’s a super short, unmarked trail that leads to a lookout of the mountains, and it is incredibly breathtaking. That day, once I got to the lookout, I turned around and went back to the car because it was getting dark. A couple of days later, I chose this hike again for my 100th hike. This time, I went all the way to the top, which led to Hospital Rock. Honestly, when I got to the top, I was a tad disappointed because I was expecting some huge lookout, but it was actually just a rock that was kind of like a cave. It wasn’t very well marked towards the top, so I didn’t know that I had actually made it to the end until I couldn’t find the trail anymore. Nonetheless, it was still beautiful but the lookout is my favorite because I rarely get to see beautiful mountains up close where I’m located.
I thoroughly enjoyed hiking and documenting 106 hikes in 2019, but these are my favorite for various reasons, whether it be personal or simply because it’s beautiful. I really love hiking, and I’m so thankful I got to see what other states have to offer this year! Here’s to more adventures and memories in 2020!