Making a Splash at Finger Lake

The Flathead Valley gets very busy during the summer, and we’re always on the lookout for places that are off the beaten path and don’t require sitting in traffic in order to get there. Finger Lake, about a half hour north of Whitefish, fit the bill and was the perfect hike for cooling off on a hot day.

The trail head, which provides access to three different family-friendly lake hikes, is just before the Upper Stillwater Campground (follow the signs to the campground just past mile marker 151 on Highway 93; the trail head is right before the campground itself). Thanks to the Farm to Market Road, we could avoid traffic and bypass both Kalispell and Whitefish. Finger Lake is a 3 mile round trip hike with about 100 feet of total elevation gain. There are a few brief inclines but nothing too taxing for anyone in our group.

Besides the lake itself, the cliffs are the other main attraction. The trail peters out at a large section of outcroppings that provide a many options for making a splash into the lake. Some are not for the faint of heart, but others are just rocks jutting out into the water that rise only a few feet out of the lake.

After our return hike we continued down the road to Upper Stillwater Lake. The Younger Fives had a blast riding the current of the Stillwater River just before it empties into the Lake. We didn’t have our boogie boards with us, but they will definitely be packed for our next visit.

After spending the day we feel like we only scratched the surface, and we’re eager to check out Wall Lake and Lagoni Lake. With another few weeks of dry, hot weather in the forecast, we’re sure to make another visit soon.

 

Stanton Lake Trail: A Hike in Pictures

Here in Montana last week the weather couldn’t have been better for hitting the trail to get in some fall hiking. On a warm sunny day we headed east on Route 2 to the Stanton Lake Trail. If you are in the Glacier National Park area the trail head is just about 16 miles east of West Glacier village, just after mile marker 169. While the beginning of the hike is a bit steep it levels out into a nice gradual hike that was the perfect length for the Younger Fives. However, if you are looking for a longer hike you can connect to other trails along the way. Of course the lake was a huge hit with the kids but they were even more excited to explore the natural dam of logs at the far end of the lake. The weathered logs over the slowly streaming water made a made a perfect place to sit in awe at the gorgeous surroundings. This is definitely one hike outside of the park that we would highly recommend.

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Guide to Nature: Cheraw State Park

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Five of Herats: We saw great turtles on our walk this morning and we also saw some other cool stuff like birds and leaves that were on trees. We saw so many lilly pads more than we had in our pond at home. We also saw lots of lilly pad flowers which we also didn’t have in our home pond, as you probably already know. Well that’s all that I have to say today come back again for the guide to nature.

Five Ball: Today on our walk we saw a waterfall coming from a bridge. Then we saw a blue dragonfly and some cool roots. We ran along a woden boardwalk.

High Five: Miss Piggy. Can I see.

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Photo by Five of Hearts

Reservoir Dogs

As we approached the end of Virginia and the beginning of North Carolina, we saw sign after sign directing us to the Kerr Reservoir. Stretching across both states, this enormous man-made body of water provides opportunity for camping and boating in what was once just the Roanoake River Valley. The park has over 500 campsites spread out over eight different campgrounds surrounding the Reservoir. We decided to stay at the J.C. Cooper Campground on Satterwhite Point as it was the only area with a defined swim beach (we later learned you can swim pretty much anywhere).

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The park policy that only allows reserving sites for visits over seven days really worked to our advantage; we arrived in the early afternoon and got a prime waterfront site. After unpacking and swiming off the riprap bank just feet away from our site, we came to realize what a busy thoroughfare we had chosen being the last site before the boat launch. Since it was the weekend, we had our own private boat show as trailer after trailer crawled by to launch their boats. Five Ball and High Five were also pleased to discover our road was a popular place to walk your dog, and for one family, their deboinair pig sporting a hat and bowtie.

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On Saturday we spent the morning cooking and reading, then headed to the nearby swim beach for the afternoon. The younger Fives are really gaining new skills every day in the water. Five of Hearts is now cruising around doing the backstroke, Five Ball is swimming entirely on his own with his face in the water, and High Five, not to be outdone, is wading out to his neck and cruising solo in his life jacket. We spotted many dogs around, but none ventured into the water. Even though they weren’t allowed to swim, hopefully we gave them some consolation in that the paddle named for them was getting lots and lots of use.