We paid our $3 and headed into the park which is only a couple of minutes away from our house. Yep... even more ridiculous that we haven't been utilizing this awesome park more often. I'm sure they have season passes and I'm definitely planning on looking into it.
We weren't sure which trail to hike on but the ranger at the front gate recommended the South Rim Trail (6.7 miles). It's an out and back trail that has a steep start but then runs along the ridge. He said that it would have beautiful views of the valley. We went for it.
I made Owen stand on a bench in front of the sign. He wouldn't look at me but I wanted a picture of him at the trail head of his first hike:)
A woman was walking off the trail as we were walking in and offered to snap a picture. After that, we were off into the woods.
We passed two men about a half mile in. They smiled and then one said, "Y'all are brave!" I'll be honest, I knew we looked quite under prepared. Patrick was carrying our son on his shoulders up some fairly steep terrain. I was trailing along behind with a small backpack. However, it's the best we could do. We don't own a baby carrier that Owen will fit in. If we were big outdoorsy people then we'd probably own one. Who knows? Maybe we'll get there. Also, we knew we weren't going to make it the whole way. The point was just to get outside and explore a little. We wanted to sweat, see the trees, and expose our little boy to some nature. He had a blast.
We pointed out the trees, the rocks, and any animals we could find. There were frogs, lizards, and ants. Owen enjoyed holding our hands and climbing up rocks. By the end of the hike, he was mad that we wouldn't let him run down the trail on his own. Speaking of the end of the hike, we made it 3 miles in when I began to sense that it was time to turn around. I gave Owen some apple sauce and water while he sat on the trail and I knew it was time by the look on his face. We made it about a mile back down the trail when the tears started. He didn't cry the whole time, but it was clear that he was tired and hot. Patrick put him back on his shoulders and Owen would rest his chin on top of Patrick's head. Owen was so tired that he fell asleep in the car on the way to lunch.
Johnny Rays BBQ was our lunch. I haven't been there very much (like this was my 3rd time), but it hit the spot. We filled our bellies and headed home to get cleaned up and nap. Nap time is my favorite on Thursday afternoon. After 6 miles of hiking and a full belly, it's even better:)
We enjoyed exploring a little bit more of our wonderful city. I'm hopeful that we will return to Oak Mountain State Park again soon. There may even be some camping in our future.