The rain had moved out in the morning and was replaced with bright blue skies and sunshine. The last full day of our trip promised more adventure judging by the weather. After breakfast, I decided to take Peter for a walk. As we got ready, Peyton, my parents’ dog, begged to come too. With both dogs in the lead, we walked through the campground and bumbled down a shortcut to West Launch Road. I took in the sunshine as we walked along the road, always keeping an eye out for vehicles.
When we came to the road that went back to the boat launch, we were met with a sign… “Road Closed”. Water flowed across the road ahead of us and created a little stream into the brush. Friendly walkers came out from the road and told me that it was wet but safe. I proceeded along the edge of the pavement, trying not to get my sneakers too wet. The dogs bounded through the water with great joy! They were excited about the newfound stream.
As we approached the lake, I realized that the water had risen quite far. There was only about 5 yards of ramp for boaters to use and the dock that once sat well below a concrete slab was now level with it. The picnic tables that previously sat along the lake had been moved into the parking lot and their original spot was covered with water. We walked back West Launch Trail and alerted our fellow campers of the rising water. Some of the campsites were getting so saturated that a couple had moved their tent to higher ground.
Later, we drove around the park to investigate the flooding. By the evening, multiple roads and boat launches were closed. The Woapalanne Trail that Peter and I hiked just the day before could only be used by fish.
Peter and I were getting restless. Both of us wanted one last hike before we went home! I looked at the map and saw that the pair of Hunter Run trails were further away from the lake. If any trail was suitable for hiking, these two seemed to be the best bet. I opted to take Hunter Run West Trail to hike through the Allegheny Plateau. Peter and I walked up the road and turned left to start our ascent through the forest. The path was still glistening from the moisture and newly fallen branches created obstacles for Peter to prance over. I looked through the trees across to the mountains in the distance. It was stunning, even with the leaves partially obstructing the view. We climbed on and then made the descent down the trail. Swoosh! Suddenly, the trail disappeared and turned into a rippling stream. I clambered to the edge of the trail to get past the rushing water. Further down the path, the brook gave way to the trail and we carried on.
When we looped around and started back to the trailhead, the trail turned to swampy grass. Each step created a swashing noise under my feet. Peter seemed to enjoy splashing along the trail with mud flying. Soon we were back to the road and we left the “bog” behind. As we proceeded to the campground, I was happy that we had completed one last hike before we left. We had hiked all of the trails on the campground side of the lake except for Hunter Run East Trail. It made sense to leave one more to explore for when we go back.
The next morning, we drove around the park. The flooding was much worse than before. Campsites, trails, and other areas were covered in even more water. All of the boat launches remained closed as well as some roads. A fishing pier, footbridge, and beach were completely submerged. The marina was now unusable as someone would need a raft just to reach the boats.
As we packed up to leave, I felt fortunate that we remained safe from the flooding and had a great trip. Bald Eagle State Park is now a favorite because of all the trails, the nice campground, the big lake, and the gorgeous views. I cannot wait to go back to explore the park more with Peter Pan.