The thought of riding my bike just didn’t work for me today. So I decided to drive up to Great Falls and revisit the Gold Mine trail. I put the windows down and drove up the river with the windows down. As much as I hate saying adios to summer, I find driving with the windows down on a 65 degree day one of life’s pleasures. The fall foliage near DC is not quite ready for prime time. There are some yellows here and there and the occasional red tree but green continues to dominate. The GW and Clara Barton Parkways made for a lovely ride nevertheless.
Last fall I hiked the Gold Mine Trail in Great Falls Park in Maryland twice. The first hike was my way of coping with a tragedy. The second was my way of coping with the end of autumn. Both times the Gold Mine Trail did the trick.
I drove past the free parking lot near Old Anglers in. I had no need for it since my friend Kirstin convinced me to by an annual National Parks pass which gives me free admission to the park which otherwise costs $10. (Counting today, I have already used it four times.) The parking lot was full. I was expecting to see lots of people on the trails. As it turned out, they must have been on the C&O Canal towpath or taking in the views of the falls.
I began my hike along the River Trail. This trial is about one mile long and completely flat. It goes along the river bank north of the falls. It is the perfect place to get into the hiking vibe. After a mile, you hike back to the start on the towpath.
Warmed up, I headed uphill on the Gold Mine Spur Trail. For all those cars in the parking lot, the trial was surprisingly empty. During the course of my hike I encountered about ten other groups of hikers. The less said about the two groups of LOUD talkers who don’t get the concept of a contemplative walk in the woods the better.
The spur trail leads to the Gold Mine Loop Trail. This trail rolls up and down over a modest ridge line. The footing is mostly smooth with only few hundred yards of small rocks to slow the pace. This means that you can enjoy the woods, listen to yourself breathe, and zone out. Which is what I did.
After completing the circuit, I hiked back down the spur trail. Mission accomplished. During my hike the temperature never broke 75 degrees and the humidity was low. I arrived back having barely broken a sweat.