Referring to my 60 Hikes book, I saw that there was an 'easy' rated hike just a few miles down the freeway from Spring Hill on the Duck River, so today around noon, I put on my walking shoes and grabbed my hiking stick, and pointed my truck towards Henry Horton State Park.
It didn't take long to get there, and the trailhead is right off the highway. Yeah, at first I thought that would be a feature, not a bug, but I didn't like it very much at all--I could hear traffic noise for most of the hike.
Officially, the trail is called the Willhoite Mills trail, and it meanders along the Duck River, through a civil-war era grain mill complex. In fact, just a few feet from the parking lot, you come across the first relics:
Just down the hill a few steps from the old industrial equipment, the path turns left and runs along the top of a limestone ledge that overlooks the river. It's not exactly treacherous, but then again, you have to pay attention where you step, else you'd go tumbling down the hill into the water. Not something I wanted to do, that's for sure.
The first point of interest along the river is the 'narrows', a spot where it was supposedly dammed up back in the old days. Also, it's claim to fame was that Andrew Jackson crossed there way back in the day. I have no political or military aspirations, so I just stayed on this side of the river.
It was actually a nice walk along the river, with several rocky outcroppings all along the way where you could sit and watch the water or toss pebbles in. I just kept on walking, although I stopped to take a picture or two.
After about a third of a mile or so, the path veered away from the river and up into the woods along a dried up gulch that led to a spot called Haunted Springs.
According to the legend, and lady was doing her wash in the spring, holding a baby in a cloth sling. But the baby fell out of the sling into the water and was immediately washed away, never to be found again, even after a large scale manhunt. Somehow, that makes it haunted, but wandering through there on a sunny afternoon, it didn't seem too spooky to me.
As the trail wound it's way through the woods, uphill and further away from the river, the path found its way to another dried-up riverbed. It was pretty cool to see, but I imagine that during the summer months, the place is just crawling with snakes. It just looks like a good place to live, if I were a snake, that's all I'm sayin'.
Even so, it's still very pretty, and the last quarter-mile of the trail heading back to the parking area was nice and shady, too. I enjoyed it a lot, although it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. The first bit had some up-and-down, and for someone who's still somewhat uncoordinated and out-of-shape, there were a few tricky steps here and there, but nothing major.
The further you got from the river, the easier the walk became--no rocks, a fairly defined dirt trail, and minimal change in elevation. According to the guidebook, it's only a mile, but with stopping for pictures and taking the occasional rest, it took me about 40 minutes to walk it. Definitely a better workout than wandering the sidewalks around the neighborhood, and certainly more interesting, too.
Once I got back to the truck, I rested for a bit, then crossed over the highway to check out the camping area at Henry Horton State Park. I'm always on the lookout for another good camping spot, and I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it was pretty sucky. Easily the lamest camping area I've seen yet. I mean, do they really need 4x4 timbers staked into the ground to mark where you have to put your tent? Seriously, it looked like the outdoors version of a time-out area. Not only that, the sites were tiny, way too close together, and on the edge of a huge field with a barn out in the middle of it. Who wants to camp there? Oh yeah, and it's not far off the highway, too, so there is plenty of traffic noise.
Worst. Campground. Evar.
Anyhow, now that I've seen it and scouted it out, we won't waste our time staying there next summer. At least the hike was interesting.