I’m no expert but since I’m posting about night hiking I feel like I should mention that before you try a night hike you should take some extra precautions. Make sure you know the trail you’re hiking the first time out, definitely go with a friend, make sure your headlamps/flashlights have extra batteries, make sure others know where you’re going… plus all the other preparations you’ll take for any other hike. For more info on night hiking check out this article on About.com – How to Go on a Night Hike.
A busy schedule this weekend wasn’t going to keep me from getting a hike in. I’ve wanted to try a night hike for a while and after some searching found out a park very close to me allows visitors until 11:00 PM. Asked my buddy if he was game and we locked the plans down. Olde Rope Mill Park is right in my backyard and I’ve hiked it many times before so it was a great choice for my first night hike. They have a nice set of trails which are built mainly for mountain biking but do allow hiking. The trail network here is part of the Greenprints Alliance plan for the city of Woodstock. The plan lays out over 60 miles of interconnected trails with attached greenspace throughout the city, I have to say that Woodstock is doing a great job of making this a great place to live and play – the mayor and city council must have rocked at SimCity back in the day.
We hit the trail around 7:00 and the last visitors to the park were just leaving. We got our gear on and headed out. My dog (Boo) made out like a champ as I let her go off-leash since the trail was deserted, I attached a small LED light to her collar in case she wandered off but to be honest she behaves much better off leash than she does on one… damn rebellious critter. We intended to hike the Explorer loops 1 & 2 but ended up looping back on 1 due to my less than stellar night navigation skills. After hiking part of the Explorer trail we headed up the trail access road and found out it connects to a subdivision, we headed back and crossed over the river to the mill ruins, at this point we heard a Sasquatch in the woods, or maybe it was a ghost… maybe the ghost of a Sasquatch. Boo didn’t seem concerned with the situation so we decided to carry on. Upon approaching the ruins we realized the terrain was a bit unsafe for a night hike, especially since I was not very familiar with that part of the trail. We also noticed on the way out that the signs say the area is closed at night, guess I see where my pup gets that rebellious nature. We crossed back over the river and headed down the paved path that runs parallel to the Little River which is about a one mile loop. Once all was said and done we’d hiked about 2 3/4 miles.
There’s a lot to do at Olde Rope Mill Park if you’re in the area. They have the walking path, hiking/biking trails, fishing, picnic tables and the ruins of the old rope mill. The Little River is very low right now but I’ve seen several people fishing it in the past. I have friends that are into mountain biking and have ridden here many times, apparently it’s a pretty well-respected trail set in the mountain biking community. With this trail being as close as it is this most certainly won’t be the last time I hike it.
- 10 Outdoor activities we Love or Would like to try (heartfeltbalancehandmadelife.com)