March 9. With all manner of family--sons, grandkids, friends of sons--around for the weekend, we opted for a short, sweet local walk up one side of our city's iconic mountain and down the other. The two youngest among us--five-year-old Tyler and five-year-old Carly--did grab some dad and uncle shoulders a few times, but overall, they made the longer, harder first half (near the end of which you get to walk near the zoo!), pretty well.
We paused at a picnic table just shy of the Mill Mountain Star for snacks and drinks, briefly visited the star and then started along the all-downhill-from-here Star Trail back toward the parking lot.
All in all, a nice walk, even for those without too much experience.
March 16. With the threat of rain and a bigger threat on Sunday, we drove up the mountain again, this time for the seems-shorter-than-the-stated-5.4-mile Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail. By this time of day, the forecast had suddenly veered from like 85 percent chance of rain to 5 percent, so we were pretty confident of getting it in.
Confident enough that we had a leisurely lunch at a piece of the abandoned Mill Mountain Campground and even took a brief nap.
However, not far beyond where The Day Hiker tried to get us to cheat across the front edge of the Mill Mountain Campground, as we passed the backyards of big South Roanoke homes, the sprinkles began, and then the rain, and then the semi-deluge. We had been wise enough to not trust the untrustworthy, and thus bring the umbrellas, so we busted them out as we cut across the far edge of the campground and short-circuited what was already a pretty short daggone hike.
Hikes: March 9, 2013 (Star, Woodthrush, Ridgeline trails loop on Mill Mountain. About 4 miles); March 16, 2013 (Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail till it rained. About 4 miles)
How to get there:
For Star Trail: Riverland Road to just beyond 9th Street.
For Chestnut Ridge: Up Walnut onto Mill Mountain Spur to parking on left just beyond the campground.