Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


County Parks, Charleston, S.C.

One of the features that impressed us about the Charleston, S.C., area were the many county and municipal parks and their quality. I swear the county parks were like being in a state park. Awesome!

We visited Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands County Park, North Charleston Wannamaker County Park and Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park (where the Mount Pleasant Pier is located). And, in the next county over in Monck’s Corner, Cypress Gardens, which I’ll blog about later.
If we would have had time (and less rain), I would have loved to visit James Island County Park and Folly Beach County Park.
Here’s some photos from Palemetto Islands County Park:

There was a large marsh between the park and neighboring subdivisions.
The park is located among several housing developments.

Sidney on a boardwalk across part of the marsh.

A combination bird-watching tower and playground.

You cross this pond using a bridge to get to the visitors’ center.


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New River Gorge

Here’s some photos from our trip to the New River Gorge a several weeks ago.

We stayed for a few of hours and would like to go back when we have time to explore more of the park’s trails.

These photos come from the Grandview Visitor Center, which isn’t the area where the famous bridge is located. (Bridge photos are below.)

See the train hauling all that coal?

Even though the bridge isn’t at this location, this is a good spot to visit. Walking along some of the trails and climbing to the top of the Turkey Spur Overlook were great.

This is the beginning of the Turkey Spur Overlook. We walked up several flights of stairs to the top of this rocky outcropping.

Me, being all artsy with the leaves on the Turkey Spur Overlook deck. 🙂

This visitor center is located off I-64, east of I-77, and off of Route 9 in West Virginia. Check it out!

Here are photos from Canyon Rim Visitor Center where the famous bridge is located. This was really outstanding! Every little bit we would pull over and take photos of the bridge from different angles.

Sidney’s ready for the next trail! We’re on an overlook checking out the bridge.

The New River Gorge Bridge.
Probably my favorite picture of the bridge (shot from the smaller bridge seen below).

Shot of the river.

A smaller bridge that’s below and beside the New River Gorge Bridge.

The smaller bridge is to the right (not pictured) and here is a picture of the New River Gorge Bridge and the road that goes underneath it.

There are just some pretty leaves I found alongside the New River below the bridge.

I want to walk to the Kaymoor Trail to the old mining community. There are also more waterfalls along this trail that we didn’t get to see because it was getting too dark to walk far on the trail.

The first waterfall on the Kaymoor Trail.

Ha! I love the look on Chris’ face. 🙂

Canyon Rim is located off of Route 19 in West Virginia.

We also went to the Thurmond Depot, but it was too dark to see anything. It would be cool to go back and check out the old community and train depot. It is located off of Route 25 (follow signs from Route 19).


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.


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Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

Here’s some photos from our trip to Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, near Suffolk, Va. If you’re out that way, check out the Plaid Turnip, a delicious restaurant in Suffolk! Here’s a Hampton’s Road article about it.

Nearly all the trails at the refuge were closed for bear and deer hunting season while we were there, so we stuck to the Washington Ditch Trail and the Boardwalk Trail for our exploring.

We, unfortunately, didn’t make it to Lake Drummond, which is 4 1/2 miles from the trail head.

This is a park I’ve wanted to visit a long time and this one day trip was a let down. But I hope to go back when we have more time to explore it.

We didn’t get to see too much wildlife, just some birds flitting about, including either a parakeet or flycatcher and some other walkers. Oh, and what is possibly bear scat. Does that count?


Oglebay Resort, Wheeling, W.Va.

We did a quick drive through one day and then spent a few hours one afternoon at Oglebay Resort. (It’s pronounced Ogle-bee.)

This municipal park was donated by various landowners over the years, starting with Earl Oglebay. It’s now 1,700 acres and offers everything from trails and golf to lodging and shopping. It’s a pretty amazing place.
There were Christmas lights strung up around the park. Our friend said the park’s light display is recognized as one of the best on the East Coast. We saw two deer that were wrapped in lights. They must have crashed into one of the displays and got tangled up!
When Chris and I went back one afternoon, we checked out Carriage House Glass, which is a store filled with a variety of expensive glassware. Most was much too expensive for our wallets. We don’t have a lot of decorating items lying around our house anyway, so it was not a big deal to us.

We wanted to visit the greenhouse and garden shop but wanted to get to the Environmental Center before it closed, so we skipped that.
The Environmental Center has several small exhibits explaining the wildlife of the park and had a small exhibit that explained the environmentally-friendly way the building was constructed.

There were also a kids’ room filled with activities and toys. Hanging on the wall were a couple of frames with several moth and butterfly specimens and their ids.

The larger, exhibit area had examples of feathers, bones and fossils that can be found in the park. There were also a few snakes displayed. When we were there, the snakes were being fed a mouse each. Chris took photos of the keeper feeding the snakes and the snakes eating the mice.

The keeper told us of a herpetology camp for adults coming up next June near the eastern border of West Virginia and invited us out. I’m not sure we’d go that far for something we’re not completely excited about but it might be fun. Now, if it were dragonflies or butterflies (which was this year’s camp), Chris would be all over that!
The guy also spoke with us about a rare, blue grosbeak that’s supposed to be seen in our area. We discussed it and I think I may have caught a glimpse of it last year on the New River Trail near Byllesby Dam. That was pretty cool!
Another interesting feature inside the center was the bird watching room. It’s on the end of the building with windows on two adjacent walls. There’s also feeders that jut out and open to the outdoors. You can sit on a stool and watch the birds feed on black sunflower seeds. We saw chickadees and nuthatches.
Behind the building are more bird feeders (swarming with birds), a butterfly garden and an observation deck with interpretive signs. The signs shared info about what trees are in the area, what butterflies and birds and explained a forest’s canopy structure.

Next, we explored some of the trails behind the center. The one we took ended at a waterfall. It was a very nice trail and a perfect day for hiking!

There are three trails, the longest being close to 2 miles and loops around. The center’s site says the trails are 5 miles long. We took the second longest trail and it was 0.9 miles out, I think.
Besides the areas we explored, there is also a zoo and planetarium, an observatory, golf, Frisbee golf, tennis, a lodge and cottages, dining and swimming. There’s so much to do there, I may have forgotten something! It’s worth the trip there.


More info on Beaver Dam Trail


A friend wrote and asked for more details about the Beaver Dam Trail, Hillsville, Va. This is the trail that Chris, Sidney and I frequent the most as it is in the middle of town.

The trail is about 2 miles long and runs from Beaver Dam Road to behind the Carroll County Governmental Complex on Pine Street. You can also continue your walk across Pine Street to stroll along Main Street and visit the downtown merchants.
Beginning at the Beaver Dam Road end of the trail, there is ample parking across the road from the trail head. The trail is mulch, so not that great for wheeled transportation such as bikes and wheelchairs.

The trail, unlike the other end of the trail which I’ll discuss next, is level and makes for a nice stroll along side the Beam Dam Creek, horse pastures and wooded lots.

If you are a nature lover, there are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife and plants. As mentioned in a previous post, Chris and I have spotted several type

s of birds, butterflies and plants. There have also been many sightings of deer, turkey and groundhogs. One Carroll County resident has also claimed he spotted a black bear a couple of years ago.

Among Chris and my favorite bird sights are king fishers, cedar waxwings, scarlet tanagers and blue herons.
There is an a

bundance of fritillary butterflies along the trail as well as whites and blues. Last summer was a wonderful year for yellow Eastern swallowtail. Once crossing one of the several red metal bridges that hang over the creek, we were surprised to see a knot of these yellow and black winged insects mudding, or soaking up nutrients, from the creek bank. You should have seen the butterflies fluttering around and crawling over each other. It was just beautiful!
Here is a picture of these butterflies mudding at a different location in the area earlier this year:
Plants include may apples, cardinal flowers, flame azaleas with gorgeous or
ange blooms, joe pye weed, rhododendron, sassafras trees (Chris’ favorite), ever
greens, cucumber trees and jewel weed.
Here is a picture of a flame azalea taken  earlier this year: 
After about a mile, the trail traverses the Hillsville Police Department and Carroll County Sheriff’s Department’s shooting range and former Hillsville Sewer Plant property. The old holding tanks for sewage are still standing and now serve as staging grounds for straw used by the town.
Curving around this open area, the trail then becomes gravel and steep. It curves up and around Magnolia, a manufacturing facility. The trail is closed off from the plant and a horse pasture with chain link fences.

Not much wildlife save for the horses, birds and pine trees in this area. But there is a bench at the top of the first hill to rest and catch your breath before climbing the next hill.

The next stop and over the second hill, you’ll find yourself behind the Carroll County Wellness Center, the town’s local gym. The trail winds around the edge of the parking lot and once again becomes paved. It headsup a grassy hill overlooking the wellness center and heads toward what’s known as the Carter Pines, a stand of trees that was planted in the 1930s, and the Carter Pines Community Park, which is basically a picnic shelter and a granite Community Honor Wall.

Cutting through the stand of white pines, walkers can see a 1924 hydraulic water ram system (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and undergrowth that provides perfect shelter for birds. Alongside the water ram is a newly constructed deck for bird watchers to catch a glimpse of various winged creatures.

The trail begins a steep climb after leaving the Carter Pines. There’s a wet land area on the left and many blackberries and devil’s walk stick plants along the path. The trail comes to the back parking lot of the county governmental center and circles around to the left of the building and ends on the other side of Pine Street.