Thursday, July 11, 2013

Breaks Interstate Park--Breathtaking! #travel #hiking


Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

The best thing about vacation plans in a camper is that if the weather is going to be cold and rainy where you are going, you can go somewhere else.  Which is exactly what happened to us a few weeks ago.  We were set to take a trip to Lake Michigan when rainy and cold weather was moving in.  After having such a cool spring and really desiring a camping trip where we only had to pack shorts instead of long johns, we decided to head south to Breaks Interstate Park along the Kentucky-Virginia border near Elk Horn City.

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park is 4600 acres of forest with a 5-mile gorge, plunging to 1650 feet.  It is commonly referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the South."  This gorge was once a seabed and is now a cradle of botany, with ferns, tea berries, rich mosses, Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron adding to the landscape.

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA


Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

In my opinion, it is a hikers paradise.  In fact, expert hiker "Outdoorsman Cory Ramsey" has ranked it number one in his Top 5 Unspoiled Hiking Spots. (Kentucky Living June 2013)  Some of the trails in the park are easy trails, such as the Lake Trail, Beaver Pond Trail and Loop Trail.

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

We spent one morning hiking the Prospectors' Trail, Geological Trail and the Overlook Trail.  Even though mileage wise, these weren't long trails, we knew that it would take some time to navigate them and planned accordingly by packing lunch and plenty of water.  I will have to say that even though these weren't the most challenging hikes I have been on, it was the roughest terrain by far.  I would definitely recommend sturdy hiking boots (or tennis shoes) and a walking stick, which, of course, I had left behind in the camper.  At one point, I was on my hands and but scooting down the trail.  (Ramsey says the trails are among the most challenging he has ever seen--Kentucky Living June 2013.)  After our 4 hour hike, my six-year old stated, "Best-day-EVER!"  I asked if it was better than Disney and she said yes!  Gotta love that kid!  My nine-year old said that Disney was just a teensy bit better, though.

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA
Laurel Branch Trail--Yes, that is the trail.

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA, deer


Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA
Easy hike on the Lake Trail

This was honestly the best hike I have ever been on, and I have quite a few miles under my belt.  It seemed every few minutes I was awed by another view.  I recall saying Wow! so many times but feeling the word didn't express what I was feeling.  The Prospectors' Trail follows the base of the cliffs about 350 feet beneath major overlooks and provides incredible views of the rock cliffs and overlooks above, as well as the canyon below.  The Geological Trail features incredible rock formations.  I would recommend picking up the free descriptive guide from the Visitor's Center, which will provide more information about what you are viewing.
Breaks Interstate Park Cabins
Cabin Rentals Lakeside
In addition to camping, the park itself has a lodge, cottages, and cabins for lodging.  It features a fairly new pool, that is designed somewhat like a lazy river with offshoot areas for water volleyball, basketball and several slides and sprinklers.  It is zero depth entry and there is no real area for swimming laps, but both children and adults seemed to enjoy themselves there.  Pool admission is a separate charge and if you plan to swim for a few days, I would recommend getting a punch card that can be used by anyone in your family/group.

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA, pool
Resort Pool

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA, pool
Resort Pool

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA
Vista a 5-minute hike from campground
The park also features a working grist mill, historic cabin and moonshine still.  The best feature of this is Carl, a park employee who grew up in the area.  He shares his stories about the grist mill and still and is very knowledgeable of the history of the cabin.  He is a real treasure, so make sure you visit his presentation.  And if you are nice, he will even give you a bag of the fresh ground corn meal to take home with you!

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA

Breaks Interstate Park, great places to hike, KY, VA, moonshine still
We loved listening to Carl's stories!
We loved our trip there and hated to leave.  However, I know we will definitely go back again.  I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the fall. This park must be a taste of what heaven is like!

6 comments:

Hobbies on a Budget said...

This is definitely a place we would love!!! Can you believe I have lived in KY my entire life and never been here? How is that possible? Beautiful!

Amy Smith said...

What a beautiful look at God's creation! WoW! is certainly the word I would use although I do not think it would do it justice either. I have traveled all over the eastern US as an MK but do not remember ever stopping there. Would be awesome to go one day! Thanks so much for sharing.

Samantha said...

those are some great shots :) looks like you had a great time!

Self Sagacity said...

It looks like a fantastic place! We have many hiking places in CA too, and this reminds me of them.

timbelcher said...

Ann,
Thats for this great post. I live i Elkhorn City just 5 miles form the Breaks. Actually the Park and the City have a commone boundary. You and get alot of information on the park in the fall season at www.russellfork.info and www.elkhorncity.org The fall is whitewater season and we have Thousands of boaters form all over the world who visit the Breaks.

Remus said...

Beautiful pictures! I especially love the one with the rainbow...

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