Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Breaks Interstate Park, Breaks, Va.

The last camping trip of the year happened at Breaks Interstate Park, Breaks. Va. It’s located on the border of Virginia and Kentucky, and is one of two interstate parks in the country.

Chris and I were excited to check this park out because we assumed it would be the best one yet. When we arrived it appeared the park had seen its heyday. The facilities were dated and well-used. Check out this outlet in the women’s bathroom in the campground we chose:

Breaks outlet

This is the floor of the shower:

Breaks shower

I didn’t shower. I decided I could wait until we went home the next day.

We did have running water and electricity at our site. Some of the tent sites don’t have water and electricity, so you should get to the park in plenty of time to choose the best spots. There were also a few spots squeezed together, including a couple right beside the camp playground. I wouldn’t want my kids playing next to some random campers.

We were one of three campers in the whole campground that evening. Other campgrounds had a few campers, as well. This was both good and bad. Good, because it was quiet. Bad, because we had visitors during the night. Doesn’t matter how well you clean and store away the dishes and food. If you leave out the dog dish, someone is going to come exploring.

Oops! Someone either got really angry or tripped over the tent.

Oops! Someone either got really angry or tripped over the tent.

I didn’t sleep after our visitor came and went around 1:30 a.m. I longed for 6 a.m. and when it came, I was up and packin’.

The trails, however, were great. Beautiful, rugged, and long. Just the way we like them.

Breaks Trail

Camping at Smith Mountain Lake Park, Huddleston, Va.

After breaking camp at Holliday Lake State Park, we headed to Smith Mountain Lake State Park, which we’ve visited before. We arrived around 10:30 a.m. and set up camp. Rain was forecasted for later in the afternoon, and we wanted to get camp set up and make it to Booker T. Washington National Monument for Harvest Time.

The camp site we selected wasn’t as nice as Holliday Lake State Park’s facility. Many of the tent sites share a parking lot and the pads are located a short distance away. This isn’t too bad, because the vehicles were in sight of the camps. Water was accessed from one shared faucet located in the shared parking lot. Electricity also isn’t offered. If you want, you could pay extra for pads designated for RVs, which have water and electricity. We did see one family with tents set up in an RV pad.

One other disadvantage of Smith Mountain Lake compared to Holliday Lake State Park is the cost of firewood — $4 versus $3 a bundle.

The tent sites have great tree cover, so there will be shade during hot, sunny days. During the rain, the trees helped provide extra cover, too. It was a lot quieter than Holliday Lake State Park, but that’s probably because it rained from 2-9 p.m. and no one could sit outside their tents and RVs.

The bathrooms at Smith Mountain Lake are great. There are five exterior shower rooms in the bathhouse. The showers are very roomy and are kept clean. The bathhouse also has a large sink for washing dishes.

We didn’t stay the next day to walk any trails. We were tired of the rain and ready to head home. So after breakfast, we broke camp and headed home.

Finishing up the camping trip posts

Today I’m working on the rest of the camping trip posts. I’ll spread those out over next week, so please come back to learn about camping at Smith Mountain Lake and the Breaks Interstate Park. I’ll also have some pics from Harvest Time at Booker T. Washington National Park.

While you wait, if you’re interested, go check out other posts I’ve written about Richmond. We went there for a brief visit this week, which makes our third or fourth visit. I don’t remember how many times we’ve visited now. I’m beginning to lose count!

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Holliday Lake State Park, Appomattox, Va.

A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to Holliday Lake State Park in Appomattox, Va. We were the only campers in the Red Bud Campground the first night.  We had our pick of prime real estate. It sounded like a woodpecker had a nest over our tent. We heard his or her call throughout our trip, especially late in the evening and at dawn.

Holliday Lake campsite

In the park the first day, there were two other RVs and the camp host just up the road in the Laurel Ridge Campground, a fisherman at the beach and two state employees. Later in the evening, two more people in a RV picked a site not too far from our camp in Red Bud.

After setting up camp and buying ice and firewood, we walked the 0.1-mile Sanders Creek Trail to the Lakeshore Trail, which is 6.3 miles around the lake. We only walked a portion of the Lakeshore Trail and all of the 0.7-mile Dogwood Ridge Trail. The walk on the Lakeshore Trail brought us to the beach and a couple of picnic areas.

Holliday Lake beach

Holliday Lake flowers

As always, we didn’t think to bring bug spray. We’re used to not having mosquitos where we live so we don’t think of bug spray when packing for trips.

The bathhouse at the Red Bud Campground has three stalls and two showers. Since the campground is for both tents and pop-up campers, the few number of showers may not be a problem. I took a shower in the evening so I was able to avoid the early morning rush on the bath house (and wet towels from the morning dew).

After a trip to Appomattox the next day, we walked on another portion of the Lake Shore Trail and a portion of the Carter Taylor Trail. We saw turkeys, a kingfisher at an overlook and several spiders with their webs across the trails. One bright red spider had a body that was more than an inch long.

On the second night, at least a dozen people had joined us at the park. It was definitely not as quiet as the night before.

Occoneeche State Park, Va.

On our way to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, we stopped at Occoneeche State Park, Clarksville, Va. The park is on the John H. Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake).

The park is designed to appeal to boaters, horseback riders, campers and hikers alike.

While there, we walked on the Big Oak Nature Trail and the Old Plantation Trail where we explored the site of the former Occoneeche Plantation, reading interpretive signs about the home’s foundations, the terrace gardens and cemeteries.

Claytor Lake

On a recent night on the town, we headed to Christiansburg. On the way there, we stopped at Claytor Lake to walk the pup.

A lot of people were out at the park for the day. Boating and fishing, biking and hiking. There were some people camping or staying over in cabins too.

I wasn’t feeling too inspired as far as photos go. I think the next time we stop (we’ve been a total of 3 times already) we should explore the longest trail — Claytor Lake Trail, which is 1.6 miles.
There are 3 miles of trails and we’ve been on most of them and part of the Claytor Lake Trail.
Most of the trails are very easy walking and appropriate for most people. Those people with wheelchairs, strollers or walkers may want to stitch with the Lake Shore Trail, which is paved and runs along the parks roads, serving as a sort of sidewalk. The rest of the trails are dirt.
Here’s some photos:
Wild basil, maybe?

The lake.

Look, the lake! Again. 🙂

One of the trails we took — Poplar Leaf Trail. There are 3 miles of trails at the park.

Barkcamp State Park

On our trip to W.Va., we stayed at Barkcamp State Park in Belmont, Ohio. It’s just over the state line from Wheeling, W.Va.

This is a small, park in the middle of Barkcamp that has old buildings and interpretive signs. You can find barns all over the is area of Ohio and W.Va. with Mail Pouch Tobacco billboards on the side.

The area in Belmont is quite historic. We took time to explore some of the towns, including Morristown, which has streets lined with beautiful old homes and buildings, and St. Clairsville, which has grown up with big box stores.

A coworker said his family is originally from Belmont and have graves throughout the area, including an uncle who was buried in St. Clairsville after a horrific mine accident.

The park is quite nice and features amenities not usually found at Virginia State Parks — an archery range, miniature golf, basketball courts, playgrounds and a nature center.

It also had several trails, including one for horses and snowmobiles! There’s also a lake where you can enjoy swimming, fishing or boating.

We set up camp at campsite B, which was one of two that allowed pets. This is also the campsite closest to the only shower house in the whole park.

If you visit Trip Advisor or other review sites, you may get poor or average ratings just based on that fact. But the park’s maps clearly note there is only one shower house. We were lucky enough to be within walking range, but I’m sure other people had to drive.

The only complaint I have is the women’s shower didn’t have any heated water. Brrrrrr! Chris said his shower was warm.

It was pretty hard to take a shower early in the morning when it was 45 degrees out. But I had a shower and that made me happy.

Chris and I were amazed at how clean and well maintained everything was. Buckeyes must be proud of their state employees . . . or at least should be.