Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Falls of the Ohio, Clarksville, Ind.

On a recent Saturday we took a short trip across the Ohio River to Falls of the Ohio State Park. This small, state park features a fossil bed on the shoreline of the Ohio. The visitor and interpretive center sits on a cliff overlooking the Ohio and the fossil bed, which you can reach via a long set of steps and climbing down over some big rocks.

Falls of the Ohio

Some of the fossil beds aren’t visible year round due to water levels, though late summer and early fall are good opportunities to see them. There were pools of water in various spots along the fossil bed when we visited. Every once in awhile we found a minnow trapped in a small pool.

Pools of water are common along the fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio.

Pools of water are common along the fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio.

Chris and Sidney check out the pools of water at the Falls of the Ohio

Chris and Sidney check out the pools of water at the Falls of the Ohio

We spent half an hour looking for fossils embedded in the rock. An interpretive sign said the fossils include many different types of coral, trilobites and brachiopods. Here’s some photos:

Falls fossil 1

Falls fossil 2

Falls fossil 3

The visitor center had signs posted warning visitors that the temperature on the rocks could be as much as 20-25 degrees warmer. I can believe it. We were only on the rocks for about 10 mins. before I broke out in a sweat on what was a relatively cool, summer morning. Make sure you take water if you visit on a really hot day!

The park has events throughout the year. You can also pack at picnicking, fish or hike. I just discovered the park has one trail. I wish we’d found it while we were there. We did walk a little ways on the Ohio River Greenway.

The park is open year round, except for a few holidays, and is located near I-65 in Indiana.

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.

Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, N.C.

Another park Chris and I discovered recently on a day trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway was the Mount Jefferson State Natural Area in Jefferson, N.C.

We stopped by there yesterday on our way to search for North Carolina’s New River State Park.

Driving up the mount, you wind through a middle class neighborhood. Toward the summit, the homes give way to an oak-chestnut forest.

There are two overlooks on the way up the mountain providing views of North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Although hazy, I could just pick out the outlines of Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, the two tallest peaks in Virginia, located in Grayson County.

The road ends in a long parking lot. Off of that a path winds through a large picnic area, which includes one covered and one handicap accessible picnic areas.

Following the path through the picnic area leads visitors to the park’s hiking trails: Summit Trail, Rhododendron Trail and Lost Province Trail. There’s also an outcrop of rock, called Luther Rock, that gives a view of the valley below on three sides.

The trails are listed as moderate to strenuous and you should except a work out, although the trails are no more than 1.1 miles. The Summit Trail is 0.3 miles, Rhododendron Trail is a 1.1 mile loop and the Lost Providence Trail is a 0.75 mile loop off of the Rhododendron Trail.

It seems that the park is a popular picnicking area for the locals. The parking lot and picnic tables were full of families. We also met lots of people along the trails and on Luther Rock.

Common plants seen along the trail are rhododendron, laurel, oak, chestnut, birch, soloman and false soloman seal, bloodroot and jewelweed.

We also discovered a few new plants we’d never seen before — a type of coreopsis we’ve never seen before, whorled loosestrife and purple-flowering raspberry.

This is a type of coreopsis.

Whorled Loosestrife
Purple-flowering Raspberry

There was plenty of wildlife to see too. We saw a groundhog, a bird that looked like a Northern bobwhite and a large chipmunk.

We met a couple who were peering through binoculars at a bird singing in a tree close to the Rhododendron Trail. I couldn’t see it, but it sounded like a towhee, a black and orange bird. According to several bird guides, towhees sound like they are saying, “pick up your tea,” with the second syllable stressed and the fourth syllable trilled.

Butterflies we saw included morning cloaks and frittilaries.

I think this would be a perfect place to go for a picnic and a short afternoon walk. But parts of the trails are strenuous. So if you have asthma or are not used to outdoor activities, just take it easy.

For more information, visit the Web site or contact the park at (336) 246-9653 or mount.jefferson@ncmail.net.