Around the Lake (Rocky Gap)

Trail sign for Lakeside Loop.  The orange blaze harkened me back to our hike on the Log Roll Trail in Green Ridge

Trail sign for Lakeside Loop. The orange blaze harkened me back to our hike on the Log Roll Trail in Green Ridge

A number of factors brought us back to Rocky Gap State Park to hit its other major trail–the Lakeside Loop.  First of all, we were nursing a combination of allergies, a strained shoulder, and my perpetually aging knees.  Hiking doesn’t always have to be about long distances, rocks, and elevation, and the jaunt around Lake Habeeb promised to be a nice distraction–if not a relatively easy hike.  It produced on both accounts.

An out of the way cove

An out of the way cove

There were a few ups-and-downs along the trail, but it was relatively flat.  I can’t vouch for the total mileage, though, because nothing quite seemed to add up.  A map we looked at showed the trail to be 4.25 miles, but adding the directional distances back to the lodge produced a total of 4.9 miles.  To muddy things further, Candee’s new pedometer app  calculated the trail to be 5.5 miles.  In the words of Vinny Barbarino, “I’m so confused!”

Rocky Gap Run entering Lake Habeeb

Rocky Gap Run entering Lake Habeeb

I suppose some of the confusion can be explained by Rocky Gap Run feeding into the main body of the lake.  Where the stream once had small tributaries, there are now coves, and in some spots the trail took some roundabout meanderings around them. Could it be 4.25 miles around the lake and considerably further on the trail?  In some of the more out of the way spots, ducks went about their business, seemingly unaware of the hundreds of cars in the parking lots and throngs of people playing slots in the casino.

Lakeside Loop's orange blaze.  It's nice having choices.  I went to the left.

Lakeside Loop’s orange blaze. It’s nice having choices. I went to the left.

As is the case with many family-oriented parks, there were restrooms and places to play along the way.  Also, food, drink, maps, etc. were available toward the upstream end of the lake near the halfway point.  The Evitts Mountain Homesite Trail (last week’s hike) was well-marked and maintained, but anyone needing a drink or privy heading up the mountain is on his own.  There are pros and cons regarding all types of trails, and I’m not going to judge one way or another.  In fact, I’m pretty non-committal on most things, but that’s another story for another post.

Stand of tall pines

Stand of tall pines

Rounding the turn and heading into the homestretch (just past Rocky Gap Run), we walked  into a flat section running underneath of a stand of stately pine trees.  This area seems to be popular with mountain bikers, and just beyond the trees, we found a narrow waterway lined with different types of plants and wildflowers.

Diverse plant life

Diverse plant life

This seemed to be the general theme of the trail.  There were ducks, wildflowers, and many different types of trees, but there were always reminders that civilization wasn’t that far away.  In the case of hiking in Rocky Gap, the crowds aren’t necessarily a bad thing.  The park has plenty to offer in the way of recreational opportunities and scenery, and I think I just might head back at some point in the fall to check out the changing of the leaves.  In all, I do appreciate a lonelier stretch of trail, but hiking in Rocky Gap was a good experience.

Back to civilization: one of the park's three beaches.

Back to civilization: one of the park’s three beaches.

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