Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Category: Hiking (Page 1 of 4)

Hiking Balcones Canyonlands

The view of the Colorado River from Warbler VistaThe drive from Fredericksburg back to Austin was the longest driving day of our Hill Country Road Trip. In terms of some of the road trips we’ve taken, an hour and forty-five minutes drive are not that bad, but it doesn’t hurt to get out of the car and stretch your legs and take in some natural beauty.

To stretch our legs on this day, we decided to stop at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Located near Marble Falls, Balcones is about an hour drive from Austin and would be a good place to get away from the city and get into nature. As a National Wildlife Refuge, this area is popular with birders. We stopped at the Warbler Vista section of the park which offers three fairly short trails to explore. If it’s not obvious by the name, this area is prime warbler habitat.

Trail through trees

We started our visit at the end of the road at the sunset viewing platform (above). This overlook gives a view of the Hill Country as well as Lake Travis. After taking in the view and enjoying the (once again) warm Texas sunshine, we embarked on the 1.25 mile Cactus Rocks loop trail. We began on the northern branch of the trail which was significantly flatter and easier than the southern portion which had more elevation change. Overall, the trail was a pretty easy hike in the Texas wilderness. If you are looking to escape the city and get back into nature on a trip to Austin or just a place to stop between Fredericksburg and Austin, this park is quiet and off the beaten path.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

D.H. Day Campground in the Off Season

Empire Bluff Overlook

Back in 2019, we managed to score a campsite at one of Michigan’s most popular campgrounds right when they were first available to be booked in advance. Of course, I’m referring to D.H. Day Campground and when we first set up camp, we understood the hype around the campground. First of all, it is located in the amazingly beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Second, the campsites are big and private and the campground is quiet. Third, it is located in a great spot to explore all the fun things on Leelanau.

Camper from the dunes

View of our mini camper from the dunes

With campgrounds being closed longer than normal due to COVID, we didn’t attempt to get a prime summer reservation in 2020. Instead, we waited until late in the season when the campground goes back to sites being available on a first come first serve basis. This was Halloween weekend and I was nervous the campground was going to be busy and we were going to have a hard time getting a spot. Well, snow was on the forecast, and being a rustic park there is no electric service to heat up your campers in the freezing temperatures. When we pulled in there were maybe only three or four other sites that were occupied.

We did what any D.H. Day loving camper would do in that situation and we took one of the coveted and near impossible to reserve in the summer waterfront sites. It was very cold and the wind was strong so it was hard to enjoy the beach, but on the other side of the dune, it was a wonderful campsite. We discovered that many sites in this section involve some dune climbing to reach so there are only a few that are accessible to RVs or trailers. Those sites would be AMAZING for tents, though.

If you have been struggling to get a site at D.H. Day, try going offseason. It will be even quieter than in the summer and you may even be able to score a waterfront site. If you go in the fall you’ll also be treated to a show of fall colors on Leelanau. You’ll just need to bring extra blankets and maybe some hand warmers to keep warm.

While in Sleeping Bear Dunes we had to hike the Empire Bluff Trail (top). The last time we had been to the park, we tried the Alligator Hill trail and it did not live up to Empire Buff. I have heard really good things about the Pyramid Point trail and we will have to try it next time but I just needed another chance to soak in that Empire Bluff view before I try another trail that may or may not be better.

To try your hand a reserving a site at this very popular campground, visit Recreation.gov. Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

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Hiking Eagle Falls

Eagle Falls Kentucky

After booking our campsite for Cumberland Falls, I discovered an Only in Your State article describing Eagle Falls as the best waterfall in Kentucky. So, after our first night in our new camper, we put on our hiking clothes and hit the trail.

The trail to the falls is a mile and a half round trip moderate hike. The trail from the parking area to where you cross Eagle Creek basically has you climb up and down a substantial hill. Once you get to the highest elevation on the trail, there’s a marker for an overlook in .1 miles to the top of the hill. Don’t be tricked by this, there is nothing up there except some old playground equipment. There is no view to be seen from there. Save yourselves the steps when you get a stunning view of Cumberland Falls from the main trail.

Once you cross the river, there is some rock scrambling following paint on boulders. It can be tricky to get your footing, but by the time you get to the falls, it is totally worth it. We got there early and it was after labor day so we were able to sit on the rocks and just watch the falls for a bit with the place completely to ourselves. It was nice way to relax before climbing back to the parking area. Somehow, the trail felt easier on the way back to the car. Maybe Eagle Falls refreshed me.

This is a very popular trail so going early or during the week would allow you to beat the crowds. Going off-season doesn’t hurt either. In the heat of the summer, people flock here to cool off in the pool under the waterfall. It was not warm enough for that when we visited but I can imagine it gets busy in Kentucky heat.

Overall, if you are in the area and have the time and ability for this hike I definitely recommend it. Sitting by the base of a waterfall without another soul around is a very special experience!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Hiking Pictured Rocks: Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

While camping at Tahquamenon Falls, we decided to take a day trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The lakeshore has blown up in popularity the last few years after being featured on Good Morning America. We used to refer to Munising as a food desert because if you didn’t bring it with you, you weren’t eating it there. With increased visitation, new restaurants and shops have popped up outside of the park. This was the first time we had been back to this area since our UP Road trip in 2015 and it was really good to see some life in this area!

Chapel FallsThe downside of the increased visitation is that the trails and parking lots were jam-packed with people. We decided to hike to Chapel Falls and there were so many cars on the side of the road to the Chapel Falls parking lot, it took us an hour to drive 3 1/2 miles to the lot. Being a holiday weekend, we were expecting crowds, but we weren’t expecting this level of crowds.

The hike to Chapel Falls (left) is about three miles round trip. The trail is on an old rail bed so it is relatively flat and a pretty easy hike. Somehow, when we got to the falls, Chris convinced me to double the length of our hike and continue on to Chapel Rock and Lake Superior (top). The rest of the trail was just as easy as before and the added mileage meant the crowds dropped off significantly. Overall, I’m glad we did the whole hike, but my legs were jelly by the time we got back to the car.

 

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A post shared by Ashleigh Mowers (@goseedophotography)

If you plan to visit Pictured Rocks, definitely take some time to check out the revitalized downtown Munising. There are now many highly rated places to eat on TripAdvisor. If you plan to do this hike, arrive early, or pack your patience. We arrived after lunch and were able to get a spot in the lot, but as I mentioned above, it took a long time to get all the way there.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Chapel Rock Pinterest Graphic

 

Camping at Ludington State Park

Ludington State Park Sunset

After our journey across Lake Michigan, we made our home for the final night of our trip at Ludington State Park. Ludington is easily one of the most popular parks in Michigan, with the campground filling up six months out. With a beautiful Lake Michigan beach, a lighthouse, several inland lakes, a river for paddling or tubing, and miles of hiking trails, it’s no question why this park is so beloved.

As I mentioned in my last post, it was late by the time we finally got our car off the ferry. We stopped for dinner and ice cream at House of Flavors and by the time we made it to the park, the sun was setting. There is something special about watching the sun go down on those dunes along Lake Michigan. The sky really put on a show for us that night.

It began to rain early the next morning causing us to get a late start. We were going to hike to the lighthouse, but by the time we finally got going, it was about time for us to check out. Oh well, just an excuse to get back to one of our favorite Michigan state parks!

As I mentioned above, this park is really hard to get into. We got lucky and were able to book this site about a month in advance. The Beechwood campground was scheduled to be closed in 2020 for a bathhouse renovation. Because of COVID, the DNR got a late start and decided to open the campground up for the season, allowing us to get a site only a month or so in advance. The downside of that, of course, is that the bathhouse at this campground was very outdated, but for only one night, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Beechwood is open for reservations for 2021 as well, so they must have decided to put that plan on hold for now.

One thing to note about camping at Ludington (and many Michigan state park campgrounds, honestly) is that all of the campgrounds are pretty much located in a big open field. The sites on the inside of the loop are pretty small and lack privacy. The sites on the outside of the loop back-up to woods and dunes giving them much more privacy. The inside loop is great if you are camping with a group and reserving multiple sites, if it’s just you, try to get an outside site. You will feel much less cramped.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our summer road trip, check out my Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Ludington State Park Pinterest Graphic

Peninsula State Park

Boat on Green Bay Sunset

Sunset from Peninsula State Park

Door County, Wisconsin has been on my list of places to visit since I first discovered it when I was in college. I quickly realized that from Michigan, its not the easiest place to get to and it got pushed to the back burner. But, this summer when we were planning to visit the far western end of the U.P., it finally made sense to visit Wisconsin’s peninsula in Lake Michigan.

The Door Peninsula is the easternmost part of Wisconsin and separates Green Bay from Lake Michigan. This is a very popular vacation destination for people from the Chicago area as well as other parts of Wisconsin. This area is home to several lighthouses, several historic sights, and plenty of freshwater for water sports.

When planning to camp in Door County, there are five state parks to choose from:  Newport State Park, Peninsula State Park, Potawatomi State Park, Whitefish Dunes State Park, and Rock Island State Park. Rock Island State Park was closed this year due to high water levels. We were late to the game planning this trip and there was one spot open at Peninsula State Park so that made the decision pretty easy.

Sunset over Green Bay

Peninsula State Park, located north of Fish Creek, is the most popular park in the Wisconsin State Park system. This is a huge park with over 460 campsites, a golf course, beach, lighthouse, and miles of trails to explore. This is a popular sunset viewing location. I loved watched the go down each night over Green Bay. I felt like the two nights we had to explore here where nowhere near enough.

The rustic campsites in the Tennison Bay campground were some of the nicest we have seen. The sites were wooded and very private and for the most part it was a quiet and calm campground. Even though 2020 was a big camping summer and the campground was full, it felt like we were the only people there.

The way the Wisconsin State Park service handled COVID left something to be desired. A few days before we arrived we received an email saying the bathrooms may or may not be open; showers may or may not be available. And the kicker, we had to buy an annual state park pass even though we were only going to be there two days (day passes are not sold this year). We were already several days into our trip at this point and considered completely changing our plans because of this. We are tent campers, we need bathrooms and I have no interest in carrying around a portable toilet. Luckily, when we got to the park, the bathrooms were open and clean, but there was not a single ranger to be found. So, I’m really glad I bought that annual pass that no one even looked at.

Overall, I would return to Peninsula State Park. There is still a lot of that park left to be explored. I just wish they I didn’t have to buy an expensive, out of state, annual park pass that I used for two days.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out our Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Peninsula State Park Pinterest Graphic

Bond Falls

Bond Falls

Bond Falls is one of the most popular and iconic waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula. Located East of Paulding, the falls, located on the middle branch of the Ontonogan River, are definitely off the beaten path, but people still flock to see them. At 50 feet high and over one hundred feet wide, this is one of the largest waterfalls in Michigan. Many Yoopers consider Bond Falls better than the mighty Tahquamenon. The water level is controlled by a dam, so the volume of water is pretty consistent throughout the year.

With wooden boardwalks around the falls, this waterfall is one of the most accessible I’ve been to. While Agate Falls involved a strenuous hike, the trails around Bond Falls are only half a mile long. Additional trails go off the boardwalk if you are looking for a more rugged experience.

Bond Falls is one of those places that I have wanted to visit since I first saw a picture of it and it did not disappoint. It is in the perfect spot going from Porcupine Mountains to Wisconsin. We visited pretty early in the morning, so we pretty much had the place to themselves, which at an outdoor site in 2020, that is pretty special.

With the high water levels of the great lakes, the water level at Bond Falls is high too. Some of the boardwalks were wet and others were beginning to be under water. Now, if you plan to visit at a warm time, just make sure to wear shoes you wouldn’t mind getting wet. If you are going to visit when it is cold, keep an eye on the trail and watch out for ice.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, visit my Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Bond Falls Pinterest Graphic

Agate Falls

Railroad Bridge over Agate FallsWhen our time at the Porcupine Mountains was ended, we packed up camp and made our way to Wisconsin. On the way, we planned to stop at two Michigan waterfalls, one more well known than the other. Agate Falls is located in a small roadside park near Bruce Crossing in the Western Upper Peninsula.

Agate Falls is a lesser-known Michigan waterfall. Before stopping there, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a picture of this waterfall. From Porcupine Mountains, it is less than an hour’s drive to Agate Falls. Being that we left camp pretty early, we were the only car in the parking lot when we arrived. It is a short, easy walk from the parking area to the viewing platform at the crest of the waterfall.

The top of the waterfall is typically not the best vantage point to get a photo from but at this waterfall, that is where the path ends. If you have time and are up for an adventure, you can scramble down a hill to get to ther base of the falls where you can get the above shot with the abandoned railroad bridge in it. Just remember, it’s much easier to walk down than it is to climb back up.

Apparently, there is also a way to get onto the abandoned railroad bridge to see the falls from up above. Don’t worry it is now a snowmobile trail so it is safe to be up there. I wonder what the falls look like from that vantage point?

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our Great Lakes – Great Summer road trip, check out the trip report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Agate Falls Pinterest Graphic

 

Hiking Porcupine Mountains: Summit Peak

View from Summit Peak

The view from the Summit Peak observation tower

The observation tower atop Summit Peak is the highest point in Michigan at close to 2,000 feet above sea level. The hike is less than a mile round trip but with a 223 ft elevation gain, the half a mile hike to the tower is nothing to sneeze at. The hike to the tower is uphill the whole way, and let me tell you, my legs felt it. Luckily, there is a bench at the top to rest before climbing the stairs to the observation tower.

From the top of the tower, you can see the many hills of the Porkies as well as the crystal clear Lake Superior waters. On a clear day, you can see Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands from up there. It really is a beautiful place to stop and take in the magestic beauty that is the Upper Peninsula.

Once you make it to the top of the tower, the hard part is over. You can breathe easy as you hike almost a half-mile back to the parking lot, waving to the out of breath hikers you pass. While one of the shortest hikes in the park, Summit Peak is not for the faint of heart. We passed a few people contemplating whether or not they would be able to make it to the top.

As I mentioned in a previous Porcupine Mountains post, if you are not an avid hiker, you are going to want to train for your trip to The Porkies. The Lake of the Clouds Overlook and the Preque Isle trails are fairly easy, but some pretty intense hiking is required to see the rest of the park. Almost all of the trails in Porcupine Mountains are rated either moderate or difficult, according to All Trails. A backcountry hiking trip is really the best way to fully see the park, but of course, backpacking is not for the faint of heart.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our summer road trip, check out my Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Summit Peak Pinterest Graphic

Presque Isle Waterfalls

Manhabezo Falls

Located 25 miles from the Union Bay area, the Presque Isle area of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is like a whole different park. This section of the park is home to three waterfalls: Manabezho Falls, Manido Falls,  and Nawadaha Falls. A moderate hike of about two and a quarter miles will take you to these three falls.

These picturesque falls are all on the Presque Isle River and the water flows from up in the Porcupine Mountains and it wears down the rocky bedrock as it travels into Lake Superior. As in the case of what is known as “the potholes”, the swirling water has cut half circles out of the rock and is really interesting to watch from above on the rope bridge.

Manido Falls

My one complaint about the area is that with all the foliage, the various falls can be difficult to see from the observation areas. You can’t even really see Nawadaha Falls on the parking lot side of the river. There are signs all over telling you to stay on the path and if they really want people to do that, they should trim the trees that block the views from the platforms (see the large leaf in the above photo of Manido Falls). If people see the falls from the viewing areas, they are much less likely to go off the path and do something unsafe to get that photo.

When you get to the Presque Isle section of the park, there are a few different parking areas so you don’t have to hike the full 2.3 miles to see these waterfalls. There are three different parking areas and the one closest to the ranger station allows for ADA accessible viewing of Nawadaha falls. The rest of the falls do require some stair climbing to get to view. This is one of the most accessible parts of the Porcupine Mountains because you don’t have to climb any mountains to see these waterfalls!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out our Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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