I have been itching to do some “real” hiking, involving at least a moderate incline and a trail deep in a wood where civilization and paved roads are nowhere to be found. The last time I was at Pope Lick Park it was still Floyd’s Fork Park and even though the surrounding ridges of woods called to me, most of this park was not yet open for hiking. So I was anxious to come back and explore the trails that had opened as part of The Parklands.
We parked at Pope Lick Trailhead which is actually only the trailhead for this section of the Louisville Loop. If you’re looking to do some hiking, you’re closer if you park at John Floyd Fields rather than the trailhead. However, this section of the Louisville Loop is definitely worth checking out. It is surrounded by a shallow wood between the trail and road on one side and a thick forest on the other side. At this time in the evening the sun glistened out from behind the tree line providing a romantic and peaceful ambience to complement the singing birds and faraway sound of traffic.
Before we even reached the fields, Boy Wonder found “a fossilized leaf!” in the concrete and had me count the rings in a fallen tree so we could guess it’s age (about 26). That’s the thing about being immersed in nature, there are so many things to learn and teach, simply through discussion. There are also so many things to notice when you’re with a child whose presence misses nothing and whose sense of wonder can’t help but make you also stare in awe at a crushed insect or a frog jumping off the trail into the woods.
This section of Louisville Loop opens up into the John Floyd Fields, an area that contains several soccer fields, a community center, and a playground. All of this is surrounded by a walking path. Boy Wonder stopped and tried out a spinning seat on the playground before I reminded him that this time we were here to explore the trails. We continued along the Louisville Loop which veers off from the fields into another wooded area that follows along the creek. The path eventually comes to a bridge that crosses over Floyd’s Fork. The bridge itself is a thing of beauty but so are the views looking out from it. The creek is wide and deep at this point and I imagine it’s perfect for canoeing and kayaking, activities for another adventure perhaps. Louisville Loop continues on across the bridge and I can’t wait to come back to experience this part of the park on bike.
Once across the bridge the land opens up into a prairie surrounded by ridges of woods on all sides. It seemed the sun had followed us to this part of the park and was now offering a magnificent sunset outstretched over the prairie. I asked the Boy Wonder if he knew which part of the land was prairie, and he pointed to the tall grassland before us as we both imagined the life that resided hidden in its tall grasses. “The animals like the prairie because it’s good protection,” Boy Wonder observed.
We had finally arrived at our destination, the trailhead for the Big Beech Woods. The Prairie Preserve Trail also looked enticing but the sun was setting quickly and this time, we would only have time to explore the woods. And so Boy Wonder consulted the map he had grabbed from the park kiosk and we trekked on. An account of our adventure through Big Beech Woods is in Exploring Pope Lick Park, Part 2.