Located in the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California is a short and easy hike to a beautiful overlook called “Heart Rock”. To reach Heart Rock/Seely Creek Trail take CA-18 to CA-138 W in Crestline. The trail starts about ¼ mile south of the entrance to Camp Seely where you can find parking either before Camp Seeley or along the road past the entrance. No Adventure Pass is required for this part of the National Forest but it is recommended to always check if a pass is required before parking. The approximately one-mile round trip hike takes you along Seely Creek the majority of the distance with gorgeous views of the mountain forest. The leaves were changing colors and falling from the trees and it was not too cold yet, so November was a perfect time to visit here. Walking along the creek you will reach a fork in the trail. Steer to the right until reaching the rock landing area marking the trail’s end. There are markers along the trail to lead you in the right direction. Right below the landing is the famous heart-shaped hole in the cliff next to a waterfall. Even though there are ways to climb down into the heart, it is not recommended because the slippery rocks can cause easy falling. I highly recommend Heart Rock Trail for anyone in the area to take because it’s a quick and easy trail to explore the beauty of nature outdoor!
Day 2 in Maui started early in an attempt to get ahead of the crowds. As you may be able to tell by now, I am the traveler that rarely sleeps or rests on my escapes. There are only so many hours in each day and I make sure it is packed full of adventure. We headed a few miles north of our hotel on the west coast of Maui to Napili Bay. I had read that this was a good place to swim with turtles and that was what I wanted to include in each day’s escape. I could see them from the shore as they were popping their heads out for a quick breath of air but due to the full moon the night before, the water was rough from the high tide and it made seeing turtles while swimming difficult.
We then decided to head south to try another place to snorkel, stopping at Boss Frog’s Rentals to pick up some equipment. Boss Frog’s is located throughout Hawaii and specializes in organizing tours and renting all types of water supplies. The staff there are very helpful in suggesting places to explore from a local’s point of view. We rented a paddleboard for a reasonable price of $37 for 24 hours and they strapped it safely to our small rental car. We drove as far south on the island as possible ending at a gravel/dirt road that lead to La Perouse Bay, a beautiful beach surrounded by dry lava beds and a view of bright teal blue water. After parking in the small lot, we hiked down a portion of the Hoapili Trail. The trail length is a challenging 5.5 miles and takes at least 6 hours, therefore if you plan on reaching the end, take plenty of water and dress appropriately. The beach in closed due to it being a marine life conservation area and no fishing or swimming is allowed but it is a beautiful sight!
Our next stop was Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve Area. There is a large parking lot attended with helpful rangers who give out information on where to snorkel and how to protect the reefs while swimming. There are two paths leading to the snorkeling areas that take you right into the water. Unless you have tough feet I suggest wearing flippers or water shoes while in the water because it is quite rocky. There is an area that is perfect for surfers and that is where I decided to paddleboard and snorkel. Sadly, I didn’t see any turtles here but saw some of the most beautifully colored reefs and lots of fish.
Big Beach and Makena Beach State Park were our next stops. Big Beach is named just for that, it is one of the longest beaches on Maui and known for great boogie boarding, surfing, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. The tan-colored sand is some of the softest I have ever felt. The tide was again not good so we walked around the beach, resting for a bit in the warm afternoon sun. The beach is lined with big palm trees and is perfect for a quick nap if you do not want to sit in the direct sun. After the quick rest we headed out for Maluaka Beach. Parking is limited here to only parallel parking on side streets. It was worth the effort to get to Maluaka Beach as this was the best snorkeling and paddleboarding of the day.
The next place we stopped at was Five Caves which I had heard was another fantastic area for snorkeling. Five Caves is a somewhat hard place to find unless you look close for the signs with arrows leading down through the lava rocks. The tide was very rough and crashing over the rocks so we knew that it was not a good time for snorkeling. We talked to a local who was sitting there on the rocks reading a book and he told us that this was the best ever place to snorkel but it was the “king tides” going on due to the full moon that were caused the rough water throughout the island. With that we were very disappointed we could not snorkel here and learned an important lesson for others, make sure to check the tide reports prior to making the trip down to Five Caves.
To end the afternoon, we made one more stop at McGregor Point Lighthouse. This picturesque lighthouse sits on a beautiful cliff overlooking the amazing beaches below. Our stomachs started grumbling from a day full of swimming and paddleboarding as we headed off to Duke’s Beach House for dinner. Since we had not stopped for lunch and were starving, we indulged in nachos, salad, garlic fries, the best fish and chips, and some refreshing drinks. We sat at the bar to eat our feast and watched another beautiful Maui sunset. I highly recommend Duke’s to end a busy day because of the great food, even better drinks, and live music. Day 2 ended without swimming with turtles but lots of paddleboarding and fantastic beaches!
Everyone have a lovely weekend! I will be exploring the things I have learned from week one on Nomadic Matt’s online photo course by taking some pictures. May this inspirational quote from Albert Einstein carry you through the weekend as it will me…
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Franklin is a small town in Macon County, North Carolina just about fifteen miles north of the Georgia/North Carolina State line. The town sits within the Nantahala National Forest and is surrounded by many beautiful waterfalls and hikes. Franklin is also where my grandma lives. I love visiting her as it is a great escape from the hectic and fast-paced life of living in Southern California. Her house sits on 5 acres of beautiful grass prairie surrounded with lush green trees and a clear view of Scaly Mountain. A brook runs just twenty feel behind her house and at night with the windows open it’s constant sound gently lulls you to sleep. During the summer night fireflies dance around the trees and the sky is full of bright stars.
We usually visit in August when it is hot and humid but we can escape the heat by tubing down the Little Tennessee River, sliding down the waterfall at Sliding Rock, swimming in a nearby lake, or simply wading in the brook behind the house. Every Saturday night in the summer, downtown Franklin hosts “Pickin’ On The Square”. The streets surrounding the downtown gazebo area are closed off and large groups of people bring their chairs to sit and enjoy local entertainment and music, while some do spontaneous line dancing to the sounds. Franklin in October is beautiful when the leaves are changing colors as fall sets in. The Nantahala Forest turns from dense bright green to various shades of green, red, orange, and yellow as the days pass. It gets cool during the day and cold at night. This is my favorite time to visit Franklin for hiking because the weather is perfect during the day. Franklin is just a little over an hours drive to Asheville, home of the Biltmore Estate. This is a great day trip to visit the historic mansion and it’s lovely gardens. We usually take a day trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is a beautiful drive over the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway. There are many things to do in Gatlinburg including my favorite, moonshine tasting at the many moonshine distilleries.
Waterfalls are abundant around Franklin. The largest one, Dry Falls, has a nice parking area and foot path down to the falls were you can walk underneath the 75 foot falls. Bridal Veil Falls is right off the U.S. 64 and is visible from the road. In the summer Bridal Veil Falls is rather small but during the wet season it is more impressive. Cullasaja Falls can be seen from U.S. 64 or hiked to for a better view by taking a short but rather steep trail through some rough terrain. Sliding Rock is always fun in the summer. This natural waterslide can get crowded in the summer with people jumping in the water towards the top and sliding down the face of the smooth rocks in the rushing water. These are just a few of the wonderful waterfalls in the Franklin area. Hiking trails are just as abundant in the area. My favorite hike is at Chimney Rock State Park. It is a somewhat strenuous climb up many stairs to get to the top but definitely worth the view of the valley and river below. Everywhere you turn in Southwest North Carolina is a new outdoor adventure. I have just started exploring the area and I have been going there for over ten years!
I am a waterfall junkie. When I see pictures of a beautiful waterfall I will do my best to search it out. This year I planned a trip to Iceland with four of my friends. We spent the week traveling throughout Iceland to see as many outdoor escapes as we could fit into each day. Although Iceland is really one beautiful waterfall after another, Selfoss and Dettifoss were two I had to see. Selfoss is on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. The river’s source of water comes from the Vatnajökull glacier. Less than a mile further down the river is Dettifoss waterfall. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. We had been out all day exploring and were dead tired but we made a group decision to just trudge on. It took us about 45 minutes to find the falls but seeing them was one of the highlights of my trip. We had to hike and climb over large slippery rocks to finally reach the edge of Sefloss. It reminded me of leaning over the edge of Victoria Falls in Zambia while swimming in Devil’s Pool. I kept thinking my mom would kill me for taking the risk of slipping and falling into the falls as I sat there soaking up the beauty. We could not get as close access to Dettifoss because the trails were closed due to extreme misting and slippery conditions but it was an incredible view from were we were able to see it. The sight of these most impressive waterfalls is definitely worth the journey to get there. Just a note about the weather conditions we encountered in Northeast Iceland during May. Due to airline packing restrictions, I had to be clever in what I brought on the trip. I kept warm enough while hiking by wearing layers of shirts. My Columbia fleece jacket was fine and I wore thermal leggings under my lululemon yoga pants. Wearing thick hiking socks, my Ahnu waterproof boots were perfect. I adapted to the cold climate pretty well for a Southern California girl!