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Beechwood Trail -- Clean sweep!

Hike stats: 1.41 miles, 187' elevation gain, 45:54 moving time, 12/29/2020. Link to trail data at the end of the post (click the AllTrails map).

This is the last of the Smith Mountain Lake trails for me to complete for a clean sweep of their trail system. It is strange that this is the last one considering I camped in the campground (which this trail circles) back in October. It is a lovely trail, even here at the beginning of winter and offers gentle climbs, historic buildings, and a couple of streams (one with a nice little waterfall.

Since the campground was closed, we parked across the road that the campground overflow parking area that is used primarily to store camper's boat trailers during most of the year. After crossing Overnight Road we started to the right (counter-clockwise) through the woods. Shortly thereafter on the right is one of the historic tobacco barns that can be found throughout the park. This one has one log missing that gives an interesting view of the interior of the barn. On the other side of the trail (uphill side) is an old house. The house isn't as old as the tobacco barn, but it is probably at least 70-80 years old (if not older). It is closed and there is a sign denying entry.

The trail continues on a downhill slope through the oak forest. Very few roots and a well-established trail make the walking easy. At the bottom of the hill the trail junctions with a spur of Buck Run Trail on the near side of a bridge over a stream. The day we hiked this, there was plenty of water going under the bridge and down the rocks in one of the best waterfalls of the park.

Beechwood Trail continues on with a left turn at the junction (Buck Run Trail crossing the bridge to the right) and climbs a bit back up the ridge as it follows the stream toward the lake. This whole area is primarily oak, poplar, and hickory trees with a lot of American Beech trees (some of considerable size) spread throughout. A spur trail up hill to the campground is on the left just before the trail curves to the right and down to the water's edge.

Where the trail meets the water, it turns back up the next hollow and roughly parallels the course of a small stream that drops over some boulders into the lake. While this stream is small most of the time, there is ample evidence around the path that heavy rainfall quickly swells the stream out of its banks. The trip back up up the hill on this side is just as gradual and gentle as the slope down to the lake was. The most impressive American Beech tree we saw on this hike was on the left as we started getting close to the campground and near the small cabin at the top of the hill.

Overall, this was a very pleasant hike and, while I'm glad I finally finished my clean sweep, I wish I had not put this one off to last. I will definitely be back to walk Beechwood Trail again. I celebrated the clean sweep by treating myself to a patch from the visitors center.

One thing to note, though, on mileage. While the trail map from the park has this trail's mileage at 0.9 miles and the sign at the campground says 0.5 miles, the mileage recorded on this hike was closer to 1.2 miles (after subtracting the roundtrip walk across the road to the car).

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