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Osprey Point Trail + off-trail return

Hike stats: 1.12 miles, 102' elevation gain, 39:39 moving time, 12/29/2020.

Link to data at the end of the post (click the AllTrails screen capture image).

One of my goals for this year was to complete all of the trails listed for Smith Mountain Lake State Park. This is the next to last one completed for this goal (spoiler alert--I did the other one later in the day). Osprey Point Trail is a short (about half a mile), out-and-back, rocky trail that starts at the playground parking area just before the gate to the swimming area at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. This parking area is also the terminus for two other trails (Stripers Cove Trail and Walton Creek Trail) so this could easily be included with either or both for a longer hiking experience.

The trail was in pretty good shape. Trekking poles are advised due to the may rocks and lots of roots in some places. A stone fence that dates back to early 1800's runs through the woods along the ridge out to the point. There are several nice views of the lake along the trail as well. The park's trail map description indicates that this trail is rarely used, but the trail was not overgrown and well marked. The rock formations are larger than any others you'll find in the park, so enjoy! The view of the lake from the end of the trail in the winter is lovely (other seasons would be less so due to foliage).

After reaching the turn-around point, we decided to go off-trail for the return trip. A quick glance at the map showed that cutting uphill and over the summit of the point would bring us out at the swimming beach parking area. Not far from the summit there is a lot of evidence of selective timber harvesting (the park has notices about this in several places and a portion of the Striper Cove Trail includes interpretive signs using the open fields left from prior harvests as education points on forest and timber succession).

Unlike the other areas of the park, the timber company left a mess like is usually seen where they've been working--piles of broken and unused trees, deadfalls pushed aside, and open ruts (in excess of 2' deep in places). I have nothing against using selective timber harvesting to manage woodlands (especially publicly owned forests such as this), but the disrespectful disregard shown by timber companies is ridiculous. There is no reason for it.

We ended up back on asphalt for the parking area and explored around the closed buildings at the swim area. Based upon the amount of parking and the small size of the beach, there is NO WAY you would ever find me here on holiday weekends when it is full--that would be far too many people in way too small a space. Rather than walk back through the parking lot, we took the access trail to the picnic area on Striper's Cove Trail and the trailhead. The access trail was rather muddy but passable.

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