We all have one: That place that just keeps calling you back. Maybe it's a particular trail, maybe it's just an interesting feature somewhere along the trail. Odds are good that you find your boots pointed in that special place's direction without conscious effort.
I'll tell you about one of mine. It's nothing but a gravel pit near two good-size rivers that decided to fill it in. It's not even that far off the road -- if the wind's not blowing you can still hear the occasional car whooshing by. But then you sink into the woods and, in the spring, you're overtaken by the green foam of horsetail ferns, the rattle of quaking aspen leaves. Come summer you're bounded on all sides by bluebells. Chocolate lilies -- my favorite wildflower -- bloom here on the cusp of autumn, and by winter the lake goes calm, flat and perfectly still beneath the ice.
You might say I'm kind of nuts for frequenting a place like this when so much broad wilderness awaits so close by -- but I love wandering down to the flats, between the rivers, and perching on a massive driftwood trunk to watch the water go by. I remember having places like this as a little girl -- they called to me and so I went. Just to sit. I guess we never really change that much, no matter how much time flows by.
I'm not the only one that loves this place; it's been ably stewarded by a local group that's put in a trail and worked to make a full (if very short) loop around the lake instead of the original out-and-back. It's a great place for watching frogs and identifying animal tracks on the flats between the rivers or the edge of the water. There's only the one very short established trail, but once you step off it you can wander a long way.
I want to know: Where's your favorite hiking haunt?
<p><i>Photo © Lisa Maloney</i></p>