By Guest Blogger Sandy Harper, author of the blog Free Spirited Mom
As I listened to my GPS device instructing my path, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the countryside scenery. While at the same time, I thought I might be lost. But finally, with one last turn we arrived at the gates of Boone’s Cave Park. Boone’s Cave Park is located in Lexington at 3552 Boones Cave Rd. This park is over a century old, and was established in honor of the pioneer Daniel Boone. My father-in-law told me about his trips to the park when he was a boy. Back then, early 1960s, there was not as many trails or the wooden steps that take you to the caves. However, there was a real live bear that was kept at the park for visitors to see! There is no longer a captive bear on-site but there is still so much to enjoy at this park.
At over 100 acres, Boone’s Cave encompasses fields, woods, banks on the Yadkin River, miles of trails and three intriguing caves. After entering the park, one of the first things we needed was a restroom. To our surprise there were actual restrooms not port-a-johns! It must be noted that these restrooms were clean, heated and stocked with the necessities. Additionally, you’ll find drink vending machines located here. There were no paper trail maps available that I saw, though I did not check at the ranger station that is located near the entrance. There was a large display of the trail map that I took a photo of before starting our hike. I suggest being prepared and printing one off before arriving. Here is a link for a Boone’s Cave Park trail map.
There is parking at the restrooms, where a few of the trails start. We chose to drive down to the lower parking area in front of the large picnic shelter. Here you will see an impressive view of the Yadkin River. It is one of those views that I want to see how it changes throughout the seasons. At this point you can either start down the trails on one side or down the long wooden staircase on the other side. The wooden staircase will take you directly to the caves. Also, beside the parking lot was one of those tall colorful signs that tell you the direction and mileage to different destinations around the world.
Deciding to head for the trails first, we were surprised to find an area built for kids to play. There was a wooden play center with a small climbing wall and bridge. Additionally, there were places for kids to work on their balance and climb up a steep hill.
As you head further down the trail, you come to the banks of the Yadkin River. On the Riverfront Trail use caution with kids, the river bank drops off steeply in certain spots. Plus, when it has been raining the edge is muddy and slippery. The easy level trails along the river are wide and flat, using a utility or jogging stroller would be feasible. There are many trail signs along the way to help you stay on the correct path.
The caves were our first destination. If starting at the base of the trail, near Baptism Rock, you will walk a narrow path of stairs. Watch your step; you will be hiking around trees and rocks. As you head up the trail you will find the caves to your right. One of the caves goes back farther, which was intriguing to explore. The kids loved crawling and hunch walking through them. The ceilings of the caves are too low for walking upright, unless you’re a toddler. Further down the path you will find the long wooden staircase that leads you back to the parking lot and lovely sitting spots to take in the view below.
Our second goal was to see the large Southern Red Oak tree, located at the western edge of the park. This impressive tree is over 200 years old. There is an information plaque at the base of it that offers many interesting facts about the tree. Here we sat to take in the majestic beauty of our surroundings and ate lunch. There are no trashcans along the trail so please keep up with your trash to dispose of at the parking areas.
Our next destination was the old Cottonwood tree that is off of the Cottonwood Trail. Beware; this towering tree is surrounded by deep mucky mud if there has been rain. One of our kids almost lost a pair of shoes to it. This tree also has a plaque at its base describing its physical attributes and history. After cleaning up our muddy kiddos the best we could we decided to call it a day.
Boone’s Cave Park has many well maintained trails to explore and sights to see. We didn’t get to half of it. We’re excited to go back and try a new trail and adventure. Seeing the area come back to life as spring arrives is what we especially look forward to witnessing. The park is known for its large variety of wildflowers and the many types of butterflies that visit them.
There are more difficult trails for the experienced hikers located near the entrance of the park. Primitive, tent only, camping is allowed on site. All you need to do is call at least two weeks ahead to check for availability. A disc golf course is one of the more recent additions to the park. Take advantage of the picnic areas or find a quiet spot along the trails to have lunch or a snack. Bring binoculars and guide books to watch and learn about the local birds and other wildlife.
Boone’s Cave Park offers an array of possibilities for multiple interests. No matter which season you visit, you are bound to observe all that nature has to display. And think, you could be walking the same ground that Daniel Boone and his family once explored.