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Virginia State Arboretum – Bridle Path

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Hike Summary

This day was an interesting day with a lot of sights, but ultimately a little bit of a frustrating one.

I’ve been to Blandy Farms before, back in the spring, before I started this blog, when I was trying to get an idea of whether or not I wanted to keep hiking. I’ve driven past the place a couple of times, and didn’t realize there was so much there to explore. So, explore it I did, before I had a backpack, when I still had ancient, worn-out hiking shoes.

It was an enjoyable little hike, following an older guide from 60 Hikes Near Washington DC that I have. I saw the Gingko tree grove, and I wanted to come back when they were in fall color.

Fast forward to now, when they were almost at their peak. Many of them had a nice shade of bright yellow, stinky nuts underfoot as I wandered around, taking photos. The wind was really blowing that day, and I was very glad I brought my jacket liner to wear. I was a little disappointed in the photos I got with my Canon camera, this is what comes of trying to relearn how to take photos with Manual camera settings.

I’m also trying to learn how to really take good photos, and not just with my phone’s camera plus an Instagram filter.  I’d like this blog to be more informative, and not necessarily just my ramblings about my hikes, although that in itself can be cathartic. That’s why I started this thing in the first place, after all.

So, the hike. As I said, in the spring I followed a guide from a book, this time I wanted to try to hike further (since I’ve built up more fitness) and so I opted to use the bridle path trail that wanders around the grounds.

This proved interesting, and frustrating. The signs for the path often point more than one way, and I found myself going around in circles almost, and had to backtrack a couple of times. There was also a detour, and then another section along a cornfield which hadn’t been mowed, so I had to bushwhack my way down a hedgerow to get back to the main trail, as I didn’t want to walk along a road shoulder. I saw shrubs with colorful berries, both red and black, and many different trees that exist at the arboretum, many of them either starting or ending their fall color. The fall color season in these parts can be a tricky thing. It all depends on the weather (when it starts getting cold,) how much it rains, and other assorted variables. It seems like the true peak of color for the upper reaches will be this upcoming week, and I’ve been thinking and planning my destination.

The arboretum wanders around past the corn fields to some random fields where they have left things to kinda grow on their own to see what will happen. This is where I ran into more mazelike wandering, through these fields plus some tree areas. I was completely turned around by this point and decided to cut over to a picnic area to eat a snack.

After the snack it was back along more well-kept fields near the entrance to the park, and then a walk along a wall bordering a neighboring farm. For some reason, I have always been fascinated by the way that they roll cut hay into round bales here in the East. I guess it’s because I’m used to square bales or something, but I just love seeing the roly poly things sitting in the field. I think this is where I took my favorite photo of the day.

After that, it was continuing more or less back to the beginning, with a wander through the Lebanese Cedar Grove, which has an ethereal, almost otherworldly look compared to the rest of the area. It’s sad to know that although these trees have a cultural and religious significance, they’re very rare in Lebanon themselves.

After I finished the hike, which seemed far too short at only 4 miles or so, I wanted to explore a little bit. I knew there was the little town of Millwood close by, and I was a little hungry. I stopped at the Locke Country Store, and naughtily indulged myself by getting a slice of pumpkin pie. It was delicious, and the dog enjoyed a taste of the whipped cream. There’s an art gallery in the town and some other things, but by that time my social anxiety kicked in, and I wanted to just go home.

Perhaps next time.

More Pictures of Virginia State Arboretum