This hike is pretty significant y’all. Why? Because it was my first solo hike. 5(ish) miles of me, myself, and I. Once I decided that all the noises I kept hearing were just squirrels, and not some serial killer stalking me, it was quite pleasant. Hiking on a warm October day, with the leaves just starting to show a bit of color, all by myself, was just what I needed (although cooler fall weather…WHERE ARE YOU?!!?!)
I have known about Pleasant Ridge County Park for some time as our church youth group attends the Camp & Retreat Center here. And I can see why it’s popular with children and adults alike – it’s a fantastic place. In fact, it’s home to Camp Spearhead and Camp Courage , where kids with cancer, blood disorders, or special needs get to be just to be just that – KIDS.
So…I did a little off the trail exploring. There is a gleaming pool next to the gorgeous retreat center. And an awesome ropes course that I gave serious thought to climbing up, but feared cameras would catch me and I would be arrested. Or I would fall and no one would find me for days (not a soul was around!). Really though, just a great place to get away!
The focus was to hike, and hike I did. 5ish miles in the woods on a trail that seemed like would be best used as a mountain biking trail. Which, actually, it is!
PLEASANT RIDGE STATE PARK: JFA TRAIL TIPS
- JFA stands for Jorge Francisco Arango. From what I can gather, he loved mountain biking and dogs.
- 5.3 mile loop
- You can only go one way on the JFA Trail, so no marked-up map this time. (Oh and the map below is from this site, I could not seem to find a clearer version!)
- Bikers ride the opposite way as hikers (watch those curves so you don’t get run over!). And apparently this rotates on a monthly schedule so you get the opportunity to hike / bike both ways. That’s excellent!
- On Tuesdays and Thursdays you can bike until 10 PM (any direction allowed)
- Know the Trail Rules
I almost hiked the full 5.3 miles…but do you see that cute little dark purple line named Sassy’s Pass? Well I may or may not have used that cut-through. So it may or may not have been a bit shorter of a hike than 5.3 miles. Hopefully I didn’t miss anything too fantastic (LET ME KNOW IF SO I HAVE FOMO AND WILL GO BACK!).
It’s a great trail, but you are alongside the park roads for some of it, and hear a lot of the traffic from that and Hwy 11. There are definitely some interesting stops along the way, such as a cat and a lonesome chimney. Oh and be sure to visit the fishing pond! (which is up the road from the JFA trailhead)
It was a great time to reflect, connect with God, think about anything and everything, pray I don’t get murdered, and get in some good exercise.
Until next Tuesday, Happy Trails!