On my first visit to Brandywine Falls, I decided to hike around the top of the falls and down the Gorge Trail on the north side of the river. As I walked along, I met a fellow hiker coming from the opposite direction. He mentioned he had hiked from Stanford House and asked if I had hiked that trail, too. When I said no, he said it was a lovely trail and encouraged me to try it sometime.
Sometime came this morning.
In planning my hiking for today, I realized I hadn’t visited the CVNP in a while, so I chose two trails to explore within the park, starting with the Stanford Trail. As always, I hit the road early and enjoyed a lovely pink-cloud sunrise in Peninsula before reaching the Stanford House.
I started my trek under cloudy, almost ominous skies and hoped I wouldn’t have to dodge raindrops. The trail led me through a meadow and primitive camping site before turning into an increasingly dark woodland. The heavily overcast skies made the thick woods feel like something out of a dark fairy tale, blanketed in an unsettling hush.
Eventually the trail began to climb up a ridge, lightening up slightly, with a brief dip into one valley before continuing over to where it joined the Brandywine Gorge Trail. Following the signs, I soon crossed a familiar bridge over the river and started my way up the north side of the gorge.
Hiking in the opposite direction from my last visit to this trail, I found a couple of side paths I hadn’t noted before. Both led me closer to the river to discover rapids and smaller waterfalls (as well as the ubiquitous rock piles that waterfall explorers seem to love to make these days).
I stopped to stretch and to eat an apple while I enjoyed one of these waterfalls. I hadn’t seen anyone else on the trail, and it seemed like the perfect place to sit and appreciate the peace of woods and river.
Continuing the climb up the trail, I eventually arrived at Brandywine Falls. Surprisingly, I found no one here, either, so I enjoyed clear views to the falls for photos and no distractions.
Once I returned to signs for the Stanford Trail, I decided to vary my scenery. Instead of turning back into the woods and taking the same path back, I followed the very worn old road up and out of the valley. After about half a mile, I found the woodland path toward Averill Pond and back to the last (first) leg of the Stanford Trail.
By the time I returned to the meadow, a bit of blue sky had started to peek through. But once I made it safely to the car, a light rain dotted my windshield with moisture for a few minutes before passing. Good thing it stopped, because I had another trail to tackle!
My entire hiking loop covered just about 4 miles — a good way to start the day!