New Year's early morning featured sun and blue skies over the valley fog, but by the time I left the house for the First Day Hike at the Droop Mountain Battlefield Park, these high clouds had moved in. Nevertheless, it was a fine day for a walk in my favorite park.
The hike as advertised in The Pocahontas Times:
"It will be a nice winter hike to see the park at a time when people don't normally see it," added Droop Superintendent Mike Smith.
While few people visit the historic state park in the off-season, Smith said the winter months offer their own special perspective on its trails. Smith said this is Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park's first scheduled winter hike in recent memory.
The First Day hike will cover two, mostly level, miles of trails, said Smith. Hikers will set out at 10 a.m. from the park office on a loop that encompasses the Overlook Trail as well as Horse Heaven or Old Soldier trail, progressing toward the lookout tower and back across to the park office on the Musket Trail.
Along the way, hikers will find an old bear den, small cave and rock features similar to those found at nearby Beartown State Park, as well as a stunning view toward Briery Knob. Smith will have a fire going in the park workshop and "maybe even some warm apple cider for when we return."
I've been all over the park at all seasons, but this is the first time I've had the pleasure of Mike Smith's guided tour. Civil War history, biogeography, prehistoric artifacts, or animal tracks--Mike can tell you something interesting about any aspect of the park.
The rain these clouds promised finally caught up with me on my way home. If you have to get caught in January rain, it's best to be within a quarter mile of the house.