Monday, June 23, 2008

Pennyrile Nature Trail hike

Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
I was feeling macho, so I thought I'd do serious hikes both days this weekend. (There really isn't a good female equivalent for macho, is there?) So on Sunday I went on a hike with the Nashville Hiking Meetup at Pennyrile State Park in western Kentucky. The hike was billed as about 13 miles long and "moderate."

When hiking the previous day, I had wondered about laying out trails and choosing routes. Sometimes one end point is obvious - the natural wonder or the top of the mountain. How do you decide where to put the other end? How long should it be? Which direction should you approach from? At the Walls of Jericho, the natural wonder is one end, and the trail has two other ends, both of which connect to the nearest roads. I was still thinking about this on Sunday as we set out.

The Pennyrile Nature Trail doesn't seem at all obvious in its layout. One end is in a state park, and the other is at a random parking lot. The scenic high point is about 1/3 of the way from the park. So why not just build a trail to there and stop? There is a road parallel to most of the trail, so access points aren't the determining factor. This isn't to say the hike isn't pretty or good exercise, but it doesn't seem to have a strong raison d'etre. I think the result of this is low traffic. We saw no one else on the trail, and in some places there wasn't really a trail at all. (It was very well signed, so we couldn't get lost despite the lack of a trail.) It didn't seem to be receiving a lot of use.

13.5 miles is a long hike for me, and I was feeling the effects the previous day's hike. Around miles 7-10 I was sure my body would insist on giving up the moment we reached one of the places the trail crossed the road. But after mile 10 or so, I got my cliched second wind. Today my legs are sore, and there's no way I'm up for my Ashtanga yoga class tonight!

You can see photos from another hiker here.


Anonymous said...

We are tackling this trail this weekend with some youth not used hiking. Any tips? Stuff you wished you'd taken, or hadn't? We are stopping halfway to camp overnight, but won't carry camping gear. Wondering if swimwear is warranted, or if it'll get too hot under clothing.

Eve Proper said...

Honestly, I would not recommend this hike to first-timers. The first couple of miles would make a nice dayhike (bring swimsuits definitely), but the trail is very poorly built and maintained. I would take them on a better-built trail if you hope to make repeat hikers out of them.

Anonymous said...

I didn't (see your comment before I left. If I could leave any suggestion for the park website, it would be "pants strongly encouraged." The views aren't great, signs completely missing around the prettiest view of the route (party-ers likely removed them,while leaving very stinky party area at the one photogentic spot on the trail) there are no good camping spots halfway, and even the staff didn't know where the trail head started. It's an extreme hiking situation for sure...we had to have someone whacking to lead through bramble most of the way with those following trying to step down briars. I'm all for nature, but you almost couldn't enjoy nature for watching your feet and legs. It was an adventure, but I think this trail could use some maintenance. We got caught in the dark, which was particularly challenging. Thanks for your reply! They did great...we did lose three overnight, but they made it six miles!

Anonymous said...

Also, for others reading, I picked forty and ticks off my pants coating constantly with tick spray.

We also felt the end of the trail was poorly marked to know to use a "road" rather than a trail to get to the final footbridge. We started feeling lost and frustrated the last couple miles. I carried two bottles of water and it was barely enough. Three recommended.

Also, the left foot take a lot of abuse for some reason. The inclines all slant down to the left. Plan on blisters.