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?!!?!)

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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.

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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!

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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

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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)

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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!

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