This is a pleasant loop through mostly beech and pine forests taking in various views of the lake and two rivers. There is a good view of Buggs Island Lake a short way after the start near the park cabins that is worth a short detour. Making another detour to Picnic Area 2 to stop for a coffee and take in the view of the lake is also worth it.
Be careful crossing the park road (Staunton Trail) by the main entrance. There is a pitch and putt golf course by the entrance. If you are staying overnight in the pet friendly cabins, this can be a good place to enjoy a cooked breakfast. Also, if staying in the summer months in particular, there are always some activities organized by the park staff including star gazing, smores by the campfire by the visitor center, and family-friendly films. This is one of those parks where there are sufficient trails to merit an extra day of hiking.
Park at the visitor center and hike behind the visitor center towards the swimming pool through the parking area but closest to the wooded area. At the easement area just before the end of the parking lot, a trail sign for Tulelo Trail should be evident. Head down the wide easement to the bottom and take the trail on the left marked River Bank Trail
which is blazed blue.
From here, follow the signs for the cabins. Take the detour marked right to see a nice view of Buggs Island Lake. Retrace your steps back to the junction to continue on River Bank Trail
. This emerges out of the trees to cross the park road and then reenters the woods to skirt the shoreline. There are nice views on this side of the lake.
The trail passes an intersection with Captain Staunton Trail. The Robin's Roost Trail marks the last section that skirts the shoreline. The trail delves further into the woods to reach an intersection with Twin Loops Trail
which is blazed pink. Follow the signs for Twin Loops Trail
which comprises 2 loops.
Start on Loop 2 first. Passing Beaver Swamp Trail which comes in on the left will verify that one is following Loop 2. There are few brown signs marked "Do not enter" that denote the park boundary. Follow the pink blazes until you reach the intersection with Loop 1.
Loop 1 continues by heading straight on at this intersection. It is possible to skip Loop 1 altogether at this point by following the signs for the River Bank Trail
/horse trailer parking lot that are marked right. Keep on Loop 1 until the loop is finally closed. Head up the hill and turn right to continue following the pink blazes until the trail intersects with the River Bank Trail
. Turn right again to join the River Bank Trail
. Left will take you to the horse trailer parking lot.
The River Bank Trail
comes out of the woods to cross the park road by the main entrance. Cross over the road and bear slightly right to rejoin the trail on the other side of the road. A cafe/pitch n putt golf course will be on your right. This is a decent place for breakfast if you are staying overnight in the park cabins.
Follow the River Bank Trail
until it bends around to the left and comes out of the woods. There is a small bench here. The trail is wider at this point for a short section before heading right back into the woods. A sign marked "no entry" marks the turn.
The next section of trail is in the open and on clay-like surface until the lake comes back into view, and the trail soon reenters the wood. It follows the shoreline before passing the terminus of Robin's Roost Trail coming in from the left. Soon after, the trail turns left and then almost immediately right by the turn for Crow's Nest Trail. Signs at this point mark the distance for Picnic Areas 1 and 2. Area 2 is a long 0.5 miles from this point.
As the trail comes out on the road, a short detour to Picnic Area 2 is worth a stop. There are lots of picnic tables and BBQs set up, and the area offers a nice view of the lake. Retrace your steps back to the trail to turn right back into the woods. The trail skirts across a power line easement area to reenter the woods and loop around Picnic Area 1 which can be reached by taking a side trail on the lefthand side.
A final downhill skirts the lakeside one final time before you reach the end of the loop—follow the sign marked for the park office and pool to emerge up the easement section, and you'll pop out at the parking lot for the swimming pool. From here, retrace your steps back to the visitor center.
Deer, squirrels, pine, and beech forests.