the hawksbill trail.

It started out as your typical Saturday morning filled with sleeping in, feeding the animals, and trying NOT to think about the office. We decided to try Lake James State Park to see how Caroline would handle a canoe, and since that is one of main attractions of this park we packed our things and hit the road towards Nebo, NC.

As we arrived into the Lake James Park entrance we noticed the "driveway" was very long and well-kept. Once to the parking lot by the Park Office and main swimming/boating area, we then realized how crowded it was. We headed towards the ranger station and obtained our 10th NC State Park Passport Stamp (which I'm very excited about since they award you with a prize pack after completing 10 until you reach 50 -- more info about my first PRIZE when it arrives). Next we headed towards the boat rentals and soon learned the news that all boats had been rented and because of our late start, we probably wouldn't achieve that goal on this particular day.

EDIT20EDIT2EDIT1 See you later Lake James, but luckily our good friend Potts had just arrived to meet us! After informing him of the news and being a frequent traveler of the area, he mentioned how the Pisgah National Forest was right here and we all decided to just go HIKE. And so we did.

We followed him onto HWY181 and turned onto Ginger Cake Road, which leads into Table Rock Road. These turn into dirt roads at some point and it's nice to have four wheel drive, but not necessary. We kind of just picked a spot from there and parked. We saw a sign that read "Hawksbill Trail", agreed that none of us had hiked this and up we went.

EDIT4 Easy at first, with a split to the left indicated by a sign after about half a mile. We ran into some ladies and asked them some details and they informed us of how strenuous it was especially towards the top. We had Caroline with us (of course) and she played with her dog for a bit as we chatted until we continued onward.

Steep this trail became, yes, and I did my best to keep up with the boys and our hairy four-legged girl. Once at the very end of the trail, you are climbing over steep rocks and a steep hill, but once you step out into the open there are panoramic views of the mountains that are absolutely breathtaking.

EDIT8EDIT19EDIT18 From here we were able to see Grandfather Mountain, Table Rock, and mountains and more mountains and more endless views of mountains. This view was 100% my favorite of all the hikes we've ever done. I'd go back here in a heartbeat. At the top, there are areas where you can have a nice picnic and sit down, and you can see where people have camped as fire pits had been made out of rocks. The flowers and growth of rhododendron were in peak bloom, and I gazed upon them as the boys (and girl) posed for a picture and we took some more snaps.

EDIT17EDIT16EDIT15EDIT14EDIT13EDIT12EDIT5 As it was a hot day, we found a nice spot to sit in the shade and enjoyed a nice "hike beer" and relaxed for a bit. Over beside us a girl had brought her pet miniature pig and we laughed as the pig snorted and made grunt noises.

We began the hike down shortly after which was obviously all downhill and easy compared to the hike in.

EDIT11EDIT10EDIT7EDIT6 There's nothing quite as peaceful as escaping reality for a bit and coming to a place like this to free your mind. We said our goodbye's to Potts and headed home.

As I constantly blog about my adventures in the great outdoors, I hope they provide motivation and encouragement for all that read to get out and explore for yourself. I can't complain about a park being too crowded because it truly is a great thing -- it means people aren't sitting on their ass. And that's something to smile about. :)