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Stripers Cove Trail (lower section)

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Hike stats: 2.87 miles, 266' elevation gain, 1:12:33 moving time, 25:19 average pace, 1/2/2021. Link to trail data at the end of the post (click the AllTrails map). This hike was the return path from our previous hike on Buck Run Trail. We traveled this trail before and included the data for that hike as well. You can find that entry here.

After a rest break that included some hot tea on the camp stove at the Buck Run trailhead, we headed out for the return leg along the last little bit of Buck Run Trail (0.15 miles) across the road and down the hill to the junction with Stripers Cove Trail. The junction is about halfway down the ridge and to head back toward the Turtle Island trailhead be sure to take the sharp left turn at the junction post.

This section of Stripers Cove Trail winds through forest that is a mix of deciduous and pines. It varies between the shoreline at the point then back up some elevation as it traces around the ridges and coves. While we didn't stop at any of the few water views along the way, there are a some that offer nice scenes of the lake. Whereas Buck Run Trail was relatively easy-going, Stripers Cove has much more aggressive elevation changes. There are rest benches spaced out along the trail to catch your breath.

At the 1.95 miles mark, the trail angles up the ridge to meet the road (Interpretive Trail) at a small trailhead with limited parking (maybe three cars could park there). This is a decent bail-out point if you decide you're tired of the ups and downs and want to road-hike to whichever trailhead you started. There is still some elevation gain along the road, but it is not as drastic as the trail.

The last stretch of Stripers Cove Trail has some steep ups and downs and finishes with a steep climb up the ridge to end at Turtle Island Trail. Not that the trail is very slippery after it rains (which it had done all day the previous day). The junction with Turtle Island Trail is the southern terminus for Stripers Cove Trail--from the junction, go left to go to the trailhead and right to take Turtle Island Trail (probably the most scenic trail at Smith Mountain Lake State Park).

We took the left way along Turtle Island Trail to return to the trailhead. The trail at this point is along a cut right of way to the road but turns to the right and into a stand of pines along the ridge top back to the trailhead about a third of a mile away. This part of the trail serves as an interpretive trail, so you'll find signs about forest succession and management. This are, too, was quit muddy and we skirted the edge of the trail at times just to keep from having to tromp through mud several inches deep.

All together, Buck Run Trail to Stripers Cove Trail (and finishing on Turtle Island Trail) is a very nice loop. It got us outside and stretched the legs and provided some healthy exercise. Next time, we will likely take the reverse of this trip (clockwise instead of counter-clockwise) in order to tackle the ups and downs while still fresh and save the better lake views for the return trip.

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