Like Smith Mountain Lake State Park, this one was about an hour and a half drive from Charlottesville.
I was in a better mindset though and the drive didn’t bother me as much. It was actually really pretty with all the fall colors. But warm, it was not. I was very comfortable in the car with the heat on, sipping my hot apple cider tea.
The weather forecast said it was going to be mostly cloudy with a high in the mid-sixties, so I was pleasantly surprised that the sun was out for most of my drive.
It was cloudy by the time I got to the park, though.
The swimming area is on Goodwin Lake, so that is where I parked. I used the restrooms (which were spotless and smelled as though they had just been cleaned) and then went down to the beach.
The lake looked so pretty with the colorful trees lining the bank on the other side.
I headed out on the Goodwin Lake Trail, which encircles the lake. There were some cute little bridges and a lot of fall color.
Just about a mile later, I was back where I started. I crossed the road and headed out on the Between the Lakes Trail to Otter’s Path Trail, which makes its way around Prince Edward Lake. This trail was a little more technical and hilly, but much less so than the trails at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. A layer of fallen leaves was covering the trail though, and ever since I sprained my ankle twice within a couple of months, leaf-covered trails make me really nervous. I just took it slow.
I did the short jaunt down to the lake on Beaver Point Trail and continued on Otter’s Path, finishing my run with about 5 miles. I did not see another human on any of the trails.
Back at the beach, there was a family with several children. None of them seemed to be having a good time.
I tried to tune out the crying and fighting and scolding as I slowly made my way into the water. The lake bottom was sandy, but had a film of darker brown sediment on top that floated up and muddied the water as I walked. In front of me was a smooth reflection of trees and sky disturbed only by the ripples I made as I moved forward. The water was cold, so I took my time. The initial plunge was definitely brisk, but it didn’t take long to get used to. I swam around for a while enjoying the water and tranquility (the noisy family had left).
As soon as I got out of the water, the sun peaked out from behind the clouds, so I had to get back in. I couldn’t miss out on those few precious rays of sunshine!
This was the last state park on my list, so my challenge is complete! I had fun exploring some new-to-me state parks and doing some wild swimming. I hope to do a lot more wild swimming when it gets warm again. Some people do it all year, even breaking the ice to get in for a dip. I won’t be doing that.
*I had originally thought that Pocahontas State park had lake swimming, but there is a pool there and swimming in the lakes is not allowed.