We traveled south this weekend to Morrow Mountain State Park. The original plan, (such as it was), involved getting to the park late Saturday afternoon and camping, so that we could hike on Sunday. The problem is that the campgrounds in some state parks tend to fill up on nice weekends in the summer and fall; we drove all that way only to find no place to stay. We also didn’t have cell reception. Out came the GPS, which showed a commercial campground about 20 min. drive away.
Normally, we try to avoid commercial campgrounds, as the experience isn’t usually very pleasant, and they tend to cater to RV’ers. The Cotton Patch Gold Mine and Campground was actually a pleasant surprise. Before leaving the park, we drove through the park campground just to make sure it really was full. The spots were actually very close together, and it was pretty crowded. The Cotton Patch on the other hand, separated the tent campers from the RVs, and we had a nice wooded spot all to ourselves where we were able to let Cody off leash. Plus, its at an actual Gold Mine. I groaned when we pulled in at dusk, thinking the gold mine part was some stupid touristy gimmick. Nope. The property is an actual working commercial gold mine. Why the owners paired that with a campground I have no idea, but it was pretty neat to talk with one of the owners for a few minutes before we set up camp.
We returned to the park the next morning, and had an absolutely perfect day for hiking.
We hiked about 6.5 miles, following both the Morrow Mountain and sugarloaf mountain trails to the top. The altitude app on Kevin’s phone says the elevation change from the bottom to the tops were only about 250 and 200 ft respectively, but they were definitely some tiring climbs. The map marking the trail as strenuous wasn’t kidding. Usually I ignore the “strenuous” label, because it usually doesn’t apply to me. This time it did. The trails went straight up the hills in a couple of cases, so there wasn’t a break provided by the usual switchbacks with relatively level sections. I actually had to stop and take breaks . (I am going to blame a restless night sleeping on the cold hard ground for my off-peak performance:) My ground pad both deflated during the night, and I managed to scoot off of it, so I was lying directly on the ground).
Overall I’m glad we went to check it out, but between the not-s0-great campground, and now that we’ve seen the main trails, I’m not motivated to go back and explore the rest. I’d much rather go back to Stone Mountain State Park, Pilot Mtn, or Hanging Rock, all of which are more rewarding.