Need a break from the winter doldrums? Has this cold weather really given you cabin fever? Are you just dying to go camping like we are now? Hopefully this entry will help hold you over until the weather turns a bit warmer.
Douthat was one of six state parks planned by the Commonwealth in the early 1930s. The initial 1,920 acres of the present-day park was donated by the Douthat Land Company, a consortium of Virginia businessmen. The rest of the land was purchased with a portion of the $50,000 in funds allocated by the General Assembly in 1933 for park land acquisition. The establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of the emergency Conservation Works by President Roosevelt in 1933 provided the means for development of the parks. An estimated 600 men lived and worked at the three camps responsible for building Douthat’s facilities. Between 1933 and 1942, these men cleared trails, built a dam and spillway, cabins, a restaurant, an information center, superintendent’s residence, swimming beach, picnic areas and maintenance building, hinges, as well as hand-wrought iron hardware, light fixtures and door and shutter latches. The built and natural features of the park have remained virtually unchanged since construction. More info on the Park can be found here:
We have been looking forward to this visit since May of 2012 when we last visited and it rained the whole time we were here. This trip we chose to camp in the new Whispering Pines loop and really get after the local geocaches.
The Whispering Pines loop is new to the park and has nice big , level sites and a new bath house. Located a couple miles outside the original park they have a check in board and the camp host is at the entrance to the loop. After picking up your package and selecting your site, they suggest you drive into the campground and officially check in at the main office. We chose site 11 and found it perfect for us. We would use this site every time if we could!
Once setup we took the drive into the Park office to check in and look around.
Saturday we took to the trails and chased geocaches and waterfalls. We will cover the geocaches later so let’s explore the Park itself some more. We took the hike up to Blue Suck Falls. It was a warm day and the climb was moderate. There were some rocky areas to get through but it was worth it in the end!
Blue Suck Falls
Resting on the bench at the base of the Falls.
At the end of the day we decided to have dinner at the Lakeview Restaurant. We had a nice meal with an excellent view of the lake.
There were several geocaching in the Park and we wanted to see if we could find them all! We started with a traditional geocache located down a short trail near the entrance to the Park. The geocache was called K-9 GC2MR5Z and was a quick and easy find. We then went after a couple that were in a different area near the entrance to the park. The bonus on these was that we had to cross a creek on suspension bridge as we entered the trial!
Do we dare?
After the bridge crossing we stopped for another easy geocache called Tradeshow Trinkets GC9ED7. This was a typical Tupperware type container with mostly business cards and other promotional items inside for trading. We then moved on looking for the VSP Douthat 75th Anniversary geocache GC2NTYT. As we were walking the trial towards the cache we noticed this building on our right…I wonder what that was used for in the past?
We finally reached the geocache we were looking for. This container was hidden inside this small structure and had a note card with some history of the area. This smaller “building” held the blasting caps for use with dynamite during the construction days of the Park by the CCC. The card also told us what that other building contained. The DYNAMITE!!! They had to store the dynamite and blasting caps in separate areas a couple hundred feet apart to make sure there were no accidents.
After retreating back over the bridge we went into the Park and found a couple other geocaches along with hiking to Blue Suck Falls. After coming back down from the falls we left the Park to go find a couple special geocaches we had on our to do list. First stop was At the Buckhorne Country Store GC3F7NY. Nothing like having ice cream while searching for the cache near the store. This store is a popular stop for campers and geocachers who love ice cream!
We then drove a bit to Covington, VA for a special “Earthcache”. An earthcache is a type of geocache without a container to find, but you have to go to a specific site and record information to answer questions asked by the cache owner. Earthcaches always have to do with something geological or natural formations of the Earth and how they were formed. This particular cache was about Falling Springs Fall GC24JMP. There was parking nearby and the answers were found easily on an information board in the parking lot. We walked the path overlooking the falls and got some nice pictures. The falls are off limits to people as there is a rare ecosystem growing at the base of the falls but we noticed some local youths who had jumped the fence and were playing in the water at the base of the falls.
For more information on Falling Springs Falls you can read more here:
We ended this trip looking for a virtual geocache. This type of geocache is like an earthcache in that there is no actual container but you do have to find something and answer a question asked by the cache owner. These types of geocaches have been discontinued but all the older ones have been grandfathered and are allowed to stay active as long as the owner is still an active geocacher. The geocache we were looking for was called A Curious Ride GCHGH6. It was funny seeing the items we found here. We won’t disclose them here so the secret will be safe for future geocachers to enjoy the surprise!
We ended the day by looking for a geocache in Clifton Forge near the Train museum. We couldn’t find the cache but enjoyed the train views again. We have taken the tour in the past and this is a must stop for people who are visiting the area.
We hope that you get a chance to visit this wonderful Virginia State Park and surrounding area. It real is a treasure and we look forward to our next visit this coming spring!