The first thing that occurred to me after hiking the 6-mile rail trail is that it is really not my preference to walk six miles in a straight line on asphalt. I much prefer the “loop-de-loops in de-woods”.
That said, Andy, Gypsy and I did enjoy our walk. It took about three hours. Remembering that just six days ago, we hiked in Ringwood Forest with snowflakes hitting us in the face, it was amazing to be walking in 70 degree weather with blue skies in shorts and tank tops and watching all the vegetation and even wildflowers (!) coming to life in the woods.
The rail trail is really nicely done. There are a couple of shelters along the way, with picnic tables, benches, and trash cans, which were handy little spots to stop and give Gypsy some water. It mostly goes through the woods, with meadows and streams and little bridges to cross, but a couple times the trail is so close to M-52 you hear more traffic than birds.
Critters were everywhere today! As to birds, we saw hundreds of red-winged blackbirds, one hawk, several robins and cardinals, two blue jays, and a lone little chickadee. A big, fat brown bunny crossed the trail ahead of us, which really riled up Gypsy for a while. Then we came across the turtle, warming itself in the sun. Its shell was about four inches in diameter, and when Gypsy sniffed around it and its head popped out of the shell, Gypsy got the shock of the day!
The trail was quite active – mostly by bikers and roller bladders, as I pretty much expected. I think Gypsy was a little confused being on a paved “trail” and was looking for the “real trail” – any time we came across a little dirt trail leading off the paved one, she was on it, as if to say “Is this it? Is this the trail?” It was funny.
The trail began in St. Charles, and ended at Swan Creek Rd. in Shields (about 4 miles from our home), where we called our sons to pick us up and take us back to the van. I will be looking forward to getting back in the woods again in three weeks when we camp at Yankee Springs Recreation Area.