We’ve been to Forest Glen before. It was our first backpacking experience one week before we left for the River to River trail. It served as a terrific shakedown, and I was glad for the company because the more experienced backpackers told me all the ways I was carrying my pack wrong. (thank goodness) When you go to stay the night, you hike 8 miles in and 3 miles out.

This time, we brought our Hopeful Hikers out for a day hike. It’s a far more challenging trail than any we’d done before, because the climbs and descents are so steep. Thankfully, it was a gorgeous day with sunshine and temps that made hiking comfortable and ideal.

The first real challenge, however, is a bridge just off the trailhead that has seen better days. It bounces as you cross it and there is a constant fear of utter collapse. It doesn’t feel like the most auspicious beginning for a hike like this one. On the other hand, the frogs were out in force, and as Master Naturalist graduates, we had a good time trying to identify the calls we heard. (spring peepers and chorus frogs)

Hiking over streams is both beautiful and a fun way to practice strategic thinking. I really debated about whether or not to wear trail runners or my gortex boots. Ultimately I went with the boots, and was glad for them during water crossings, but my feet suffered from the trapped heat.

We came across the nature center before long and went to see the turkey enclosure. I look forward to it because the male turkey always makes a show and stomps his feet while shouting a warning. This time, however, there were *wild* turkeys just hanging around outside the cage. It struck us as really funny and a bit sad.

After the nature center, the real hills emerge. It’s certainly a good thing we’ve been doing all those stairs!

The trail travels both floodplain and higher ground so we get to see some real diversity in the natural surroundings.

All that diversity bestows some wonderful flora.

We hiked the trail just before the wildflowers were showing themselves, but we did find some evidence of hepatica hiding under the leaf litter.

We continued to climb up and up. We had planned to stop at the 8 mile mark to eat lunch, but ended up needing a break and a snack earlier. The trail can really kick your butt. (which means we should probably go back a number of times before Hell Hike & Raft!)

We kept finding surprises around every corner.

In spite of how pooped we were, the beauty of the trail continued to inspire us to push on. I just wanted to see what was around the next corner or over the next hill.

At the end of the trail, we were treated to a vision of the maple syrup operation in progress. I’ve always heard about it, but never saw it in person. It was pretty cool and the buckets had a *lot* of liquid in them.

It was a terrific day hike, although it took us about 7 hours with all the stopping, photographing and discussion. No matter, though, we enjoy the time spent and look forward to doing it again.