Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Adventures at Landsford Canal State Park

Although traveling far and wide for an adventure fix is always exciting, I for one am equally delighted to find fun places to explore that are close to home (ie, day-trippable for me and the kiddos mid-week.)  Even though we’ve been in the Charlotte area for over 3 years now, I’m pleased that we are no where close to crossing off all of the interesting places to discover off of our list.  One such place that had been on my radar for a while was Landsford Canal State Park.  I’d found out about it last summer when we bought our kayak, but hadn’t had the chance to visit yet.  This park’s claim to fame lies in the river that outlines it’s borders – one section boasts the largest known stand of Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies IN THE WORLD!  Pretty cool, huh?!?  Peak blooming season for these beauties is mid-May to early June, so last week another outdoor mama and I decided to check it out on a whim.  

One of many breathtaking  views along the Nature Trail

One of many breathtaking views along the Nature Trail

My first impression was about how beautiful and peaceful the setting was.  Giant oaks and sweet gums towered over a lush, green space, with the Catawba River providing a stunning backdrop for an afternoon picnic!  There are plenty of shaded picnic tables, as well as a nice playground.  The main attraction is of course the river, which can be explored by boat or on foot.  The rocky shoals provide kayakers with a few short sections of rapids that range from class I-III, depending on water levels.  Hikers can enjoy a leisurely stroll along flat, kid-friendly terrain – the Canal Trail (1.25 miles, one-way) meanders through remnants of the historic tow path of the canal from the 1800’s, and connects to the half-mile Nature Trail that follows along the river, culminating in an overlook that offers a breathtaking view of the spider lilies.  

Spider lilies in bloom!

Spider lilies in bloom!

We stayed almost all day, successfully working around 3 nursing sessions, 2 naps, and a few diaper changes here and there.  It was the longest excursion I’ve done with both kiddos sans hubby, so I was pleased that we all came back in one piece (although there was a breaking point on the drive home when everyone in the car was melting down at once…)  Meeting some friends out there made the day even more fun – Big C had some playmates, and I got to do cool things like talk to another grown-up and go to the bathroom without wearing Baby Z.  

IMG_4549  

Hands on learning...

Amazingly, we got 6 people in one selfie...

Amazingly, we got 6 people in one selfie…

 Maybe next year at this time Baby Z will be big enough (and I’ll be brave enough!) to explore those spider lilies up close and personal in our kayak!  But until then we’ll have to settle for shoreline fun.  What new adventure destinations has your family explored recently? 

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN