Hickory Run State Park

Our visit here was an overnight trip for we had a place to stay at the Lake Harmony Community.  However I was amazed what a quick drive this was from our home in Bucks County – just a little further then we’d usually go on a day hike and so I added to our list of day trips close to home.

We did several nice hikes at Hickory Run State Park –  great place to visit especially with a family for scenic hiking.  We chose one very quiet hike where we did not pass a single person (but not scenic until we hit the dam)-  Fourth Run Trail 

On day two we woke up early to see the beautiful falls (for it had rained recently)- Hawk Falls Trail – this is a very popular hike  for you get a wonderful waterfall view with just a .6 mile hike.  However the lot fills up quickly so arrive early.  Do not try to approach from the back-end – we tried from the Orchard Trail turnoff and  ended up turning around.

A nice stop on the way home was Jim Thorpe – definitely returning there with our bikes and a stop for good beer and delicious Polish Food – by far the best brew pub food I ever had — Red Castle Brewery – great and unusual beers which we brought home a few bottles.




Diverted by Chance… Will return as the Destination

On our drive home after leaving the not so exciting Route 6 and finding no place to get more than just a snack,  I turned to Untapped to see what local places I could find.   It led me to a gem – North Slope Brewing Company.  The owner has hired a talented crew and we got to meet one of the brewers.  His passion AND knowledge of beer making combines to brew well crafted beer. We have visited a lot of different small breweries and all were good but this one tops the list.   Beer was on par with our favorite places like Ommegang and Weyerbacher.  This is amazing well crafted beer that you can tell a lot of thought is going into.   He is following old school recipes Mountaineer Beer (German Alt) and his brewer partner is creating the most unusual beer – Booyakasha made with cucumber essence that really tastes like cucumbers unlike other cucumber beers I have tried.  We even tasted a Cider and by far was the best I have ever had – perfectly tart.  And paired with this is amazing fresh food (best bread) coming from the local area.  Delicious!

Although it is a drive from my home, we will return without question! I highly recommend if passing through, or within a sixty mile radius, that you divert your route past North Slope.

Rolling forward on Route 6

After leaving the Canyon it was time to check out the towns on Route 6… starting with Wellsboro and heading to Mansfield.  Unfortunately for a Sunday evening most things were closed. ..

We checked  into our very petite and very cheap room at the Microtel Inn in Mansfield… my error in not taking a picture of just how small this one bed hotel room is for there is none on the site.   Think room in NYC!   However, at that price I wish more hotels would choose this option.  Clean, comfortable and good service.  For the budget traveler I highly recommend checking it out.

We ended our day at Yorkholo Brewery –  ok local brewery serving delicious food

We usually do not end a night when travelling at 8 but without much else to do we headed back to our micro room for the night.

Hiking ON the Blue Ridge Parkway

We awoke and our hope was to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop for a nice hike.  A short drive from our inn is where the Blue Ridge Parkway meets Skyline Drive.  Who would have thought to call ahead?  By now the roads are surely opened?….

…We arrived to find the Parkway shutdown and the Skyline drive still closed due to the snow.   Well what to do?  Hike ON the parkway.   We arrived before most others and enjoyed a solitary walk along the rode heading upward – There was something so serene but almost eerie of being the only ones on a road usually filled with drivers.   The views were just amazing down to the valley below.  There were indeed some patches were the ice formed on the roadway which I am sure would make it a treacherous drive.

After our nice hike we stopped for some lunch and beer tasting at Devils Backbone. We had enjoyed the Vienna Lager and wanted to taste what else they offered.   We had no idea what to expect.  As we drove up we were surprised by a beautiful huge lodge-like building that looked straight out of Colorado and that was jam packed!   We also visited Wild Wolf Brewing where we had expected nicer surrounding but found the shops all empty – however we ended up enjoying this beer far more and left with some very well priced bottles.  So Devils offered the better atmosphere and Wild Wolf offered the better beer.

We enjoyed another hike in the valley below and returned to Iris Inn for an evening wine tasting followed by a relaxing soak in the hot tub.  This ended abruptly when our power went out.  After regaining power,  I unfortunately fell into a deep sleep in our treehouse above the woods and would sadly not awake again until it was time to say goodbye.

All alone on the Parkway
All alone on the Parkway

Over the mountain we go..

… to Charlottesville!

What a change in weather.  As we descend the mountain there is no snow to be found and the temperature is 5 degrees warmer! This makes it a perfect day to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.    Taking the walking up the hill provides a good opportunity for exercise, fresh air, and knowing just how high up on a hill Jefferson built his home.   If you choose this route, your tour begins with  the end of his life; the cemetery (interesting to note – Privately owned by the family and still in use).   After leaving the cemetery, you enter through Mulberry Row.  Even on a cold winter day, the gardens still have a few plants growing, primarily herbs which still smell wonderful.   I was amazed by the size of his gardens, vineyards, and nursery.  The grounds of Monticello are a work in progress.  Just this past year the Mountain Project  was launched to restore and recreate what was originally found on the property.  I always find projects like this very interesting – figuring out what was really there and peeling back the layers to represent how it really was.

We were hungry after our visit and decided to visit Charlottesville for lunch. Our trip into Charlottesville took us right into the middle of town where an open Market filled with Christmas music played by old and young musicians. Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, VA Listings. After eating a great burger and too many fries at Relish – we decided to explore a few breweries.  We had enjoyed a Star Hill beer with Thanksgiving Dinner and decided it was the perfect place to go -in Crozen.  They only sell beer – no food so be sure to eat before you go (or hope a food truck is outside) and offer a few beers on tap we had never seen in bottles.Our favorite however was there beer called Snow Blind.  We decided to make one more stop as we drove up the mountain at Blue Mountain Brewery.  Wow was this place packed!  They offer a great flight of all their beers which was a lot of fun for most of them (majority) were new to us.

After a great day out sightseeing there was nothing better then returning to our cozy cabin and enjoying the fire.

Biking the Perkiomen to the Schuylkill and Beyond

There are so many great trials to bike ride on in my area.   This past weekend we took an incredible bike ride – flat but very scenic.  We started the ride on the Perkiomen Trail at Lower Perkiomen Valley Park.  This part of the trail is flat. (We have now pretty much ridden the entire trail at different times – some of it contains hills).  We connected with the Schuylkill Trail- well obviously right at the Schuylkill River. – and went east towards the city.  We road the trail straight through Valley Forge National Park.   On most trails you need to be cautious of going around those walking.  However on this trip we were the ones people were speeding and trying to get around.   There are some serious rides on the trail.  We had an entire family team zoom by us all in a row.  (I was in a bit of a panic as I tried to continue riding straight as they zoomed past.  Not sure I would take younger kids out on this trail for a leisure ride.)

After Riverside Cemetery we turned around and at the Betzwood Picnic Area diverted off the trail to a nonpaved bike trail (River Trail) through the park.  (With our comfort cross trek bikes we can do this..)  The park on this side of the river is not as developed but there were several interesting stops along the way.  This required some backtracking when we reached the end to get back to ths Schuylkill Trail but in return we got to pass the most amazing old barn at Pawling Farm.   Check out this person’s site for pictures (did not have camera on me that day).   

This was a bit of a drive from home but well worth it.  We ended the day by having a beer at Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville where they just happened to be serving 8 pumpkin beers! What  way to end a great ride!

BobCate Cafe: The Perfect Ending to our Brew Adventure

We drove up to Bristol Vt for one last place to check out for we had read on Beer Advocate that it had great beer. We had no idea just how good the food was and that to get a table was reservation only! What a great little mountain town! I felt like I was back out West. This would be a great base camp for a future trip to explore North Vermont Breweries. I even had the chance to meet a nice couple who were originally from my hometown state who owned a campground in the area.

I started with Saison De Cassis – mixed into this great beer is Vermont Blackcurrants! It was delicious! And then finished my evening with a Unrepentant Stout. The chocolate and dark coffee definitely come out in this beer and it was perfect ending to a great day!

Next Stop on Route 7: Otter Creek!

Otter Creek BrewingI’ve been a long time fan of Wolaver’s Wildflower Wheat – for me the perfect summer session beer in the middle of a humid afternoon – and so seeing where it is produced was a must stop on our Brewery tour. The Otter Creek Brewing Company is a great brew pub serving all three of their beers with big windows where you can look out at all the shiny tanks producing beer. Although we are familiar with both Otter Creek and Wolaver’s we had not had The Shed, a small Vermont Brewery acquired by Otter Creek. The Shed Mountain Ale was good. Also tried the Wolaver’s Brown Ale and jumped ahead to the fall season and had a Wolaver’s Pumpkin.
Sometime they even offer special test batch one day of the week (not the day we were there). Regardless – this is a great stop to enjoy a few beers low in ABV, have a nice chat with bartenders who know beer, and enjoy some good local food — but get there early. They shut down in the early evening so that the local bars get the spotlight and can make the money selling their beers.

Slow down the journey in Middlebury

Amazing Falls! What a great place to visit on our Central Vermont brewery tour. Otter Creek runs straight through the center of town and you can walk over a great bridge to see it. You can then read about the history of the town on signs posted on the path that runs next to the falls. We had a small bite to eat for lunch at Two Brothers Tavern- a classic neighborhood pub serving good beer and food. I could see this being my local go to spot if I lived here! Also there is plenty of neat shops to visit after eating and before continuing the journey north on our brewery tour. This is my second trip to Middlebury – the first being many years ago. There are a lot of neat things to do in the area so this would be a great place to stay for a few days.

Continue North on Route 7 to Drop-In Brewery

Deliciousness!!  Award for our most favorite beer on today’s brewery tour. And most unobtainable… they do not bottle and so the only option to take with you is to get a growler to go.  The Head Brewer’s main focus is teaching the craft of making beer. This would be a wonderful place to go if interested in learning to make your own beer – both beginner and advanced classes.  You would certainly be learning from someone who really knows how to make good beer!

What we tasted: Sunshine and Hoppiness / Red Dwarf/ Heart of Lothian / Hazard Belgian  / Honey Carry My Bag  (love the names)

What we brought to enjoy by the campfire later that evening: Hazard Belgian

Great Vase!