ʻWailua River State Park: ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


After our tubing expedition with Kauai Backcountry Adventures, we began our tour of Kauai’s North shore. Our first stop was the ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls overlook. This waterfall is visible from the highway…no need to hike.


ʻŌpaekaʻa is Hawaiian for ‘rolling shrimp.’ The falls are 151 feet high and flow year round into the Wailua River in Wailua River State Park. We could see birds flying near the cascading water.


Kauai Posts:

  • Wailua Falls
  • Lihue Plantation Hanama‘ulu Ditch
  • ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls
  • Wailua River State Park Coming Soon
  • Mount Waiʻaleʻale Coming Soon
  • Fuji Beach Coming Soon
  • Moloa’a Beach Coming Soon
  • Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Coming Soon
  • Kīlauea Lighthouse Coming Soon
  • Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge Coming Soon
  • Wai’oli Hui’ia Church Coming Soon
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Red Dirt Falls Coming Soon
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Waimea Canyon Lookout Coming Soon
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Waipo’o Falls Coming Soon
  • Kōkeʻe State Park: Kalalau Lookout Coming Soon
  • Kōkeʻe State Park: Pu’u O Kila Lookout Coming Soon
  • Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park Coming Soon
  • Hanapepe Swinging Bridge Coming Soon
  • Spouting Horn Coming Soon
  • Koloa Heritage Trail: Spouting Horn Coming Soon
  • Koloa Heritage Trail: Keoneloa Bay Coming Soon
  • Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park Coming Soon


Location: Kuamoo Road, Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii

Designation: State Park

Date of my visit: April 18, 2019



Harriman State Park: Jackie Jones Loop


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Harriman State Park, only 30 miles north of New York City, is New York State’s second largest state park. It encompasses more than 47k acres, 30 lakes and 200 miles of hiking trails.


I explored this park with Take A Hike NJ! on a beautiful September Sunday. We chose a variation of the Jackie Jones Loop, a trail which passes through some ruins, ascends to a Fire Tower and a camping shelter before returning to the park road.


After finding parking for the group at the trailhead, we followed the yellow blazes to the ruins of the Orak mansion. Orak is Karo spelled backwards…the mansion was built in 1923 by George Buchanan, an executive for the company that makes Karo corn syrup.


After Buchanan’s death in 1939, the mansion was sold to the park. It was demolished in 1973.


We continued on up the trail to the steel fire tower. Built in 1928 at the 1276 foot summit of Jackie Jones Mountain, it was renovated in 2018.


It still seemed a little rickety to me as we climbed it to take in the surrounding views, but the little dog in our group made it up the 60 feet, so who am I to complain? From the top, the NYC skyline, the Hudson River and the lakes of Harriman State Park can be seen.


Continuing along the trail after the tower, we climbed another ascent to the Big Hill Shelter. This is one of nine stone shelters throughout Harriman, for use by campers. This was a good place to rest before heading back down around the loop to our cars.


Harriman Posts:

  • Jackie Jones Loop
  • Lake Welch (Coming soon)

Location: 54 Seven Lakes Dr, Sloatsburg, NY 10974

Designation: State Park

Date designated/established: 1910

Date of my visit: September 8, 2019


St. Benedict’s Painted Church: NRHP


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Saint Benedict’s, also known as The Painted Church, is an active Catholic Church in Honaunau on the big island of Hawaii. It was built between 1899-1902 by Father John Velghe. Velghe was a Belgian missionary who sought to convert the native Hawaiians to Catholicism.


Velghe painted frescoes along the interior ceiling and walls of the church for instructional purposes since most of the locals at the time couldn’t read. The murals on the side walls depict various scenes from the Bible.


The murals behind and above the altar create the illusion of a European cathedral with vaulted ceilings, though the church is a simple wooden structure.


Our ‘Best of Kona’ excursion with Norwegian Cruise Lines stopped here first. We were invited to go inside where a volunteer told us about the Painted Church and its history. Then we exited to make way for the next group of visitors.



By the front steps is a statue honoring Saint Damien. Fr. Damien de Veuster was also a Belgian Catholic Missionary who ministered to the lepers on Molokai. He ultimately succumbed to the disease himself, passing away the year construction on St. Benedict’s began.


The church and cemetery overlook beautiful Kealakekua Bay. We snapped a few more photos before boarding the tour bus to continue our journey.


Kona Posts:

  • St. Benedicts
  • Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park (Coming Soon)
  • Royal Kona Coffee (Coming Soon)
  • Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park (Coming Soon)
  • Huliheʻe Palace (Coming Soon)
  • Mokuaikaua Church (Coming Soon)


Location: 84-5140 Painted Church Rd, Captain Cook, HI 96704

Designation: NRHP

Date designated or established: May 31, 1979

Date of my visit: 4/17/2019



National Parks With T’s Top 2019 Posts

Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! Happy New Year! As we put 2019 behind us and open the book on 2020, I’d like to do a year-in-review post. It’s been a great second year here on the blog, with 163 posts, over 11,000 visitors and over 1000 people following along on the journey. I am grateful for and humbled by your support.

Here are the top ten most popular posts from 2019 (you can click on each title to go to the original post):

10. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Newfound Gap & Clingman’s Dome Road DSC05255

9. Capitol Reef National Park: Scenic DriveIMG_8985

8. Glacier National Park:Many Glacier Hotel TourIMG_2337

7. Grand Canyon National Park: Yavapai Point IMG_6906

6. Zion National Park: Scout LookoutIMG_8413

5. Kahanamoku Beach20190410_185312

4. Coconino National Forest: Devil’s Bridge


3.Capitol Reef National Park: Panorama PointIMG_8990

2. Wild and Scenic Rogue River: Hellgate Canyon


1. Glacier National Park: Grinell Glacier Trail 





Park Related Books I Read in 2019


A blogger I follow, Ken Dowell, recently posted his top six books of 2019. That gave me the idea to look at the books I’ve read this year and rate the ones related to public lands. I completed my Goodreads challenge of 38 books read for the year, up from 32 in 2018.


Three of the 38 were related to National Parks and one to a National Forest. When we are traveling to our vacation destinations by plane, I like to download a novel about that place to read on the journey. Alas, I was in the midst of a 1000 page fantasy epic on our flight to Hawaii this year, but I managed to get in a viewing of Moana with my daughter to get into the Aloha spirit.


Have you ever read a book about, or set in a National Park? Would you recommend it? Here are the ones I read this year, in no particular order:

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie  hanilton

This is a work of historical fiction, but a very well-researched, compelling one. Not having a small fortune to spend on the Broadway production of Hamilton, this was a more accessible way to form a connection to our founding fathers and the birth of our nation. I especially liked that it was told from Eliza’s point of view.

The authors discuss their sources at the end of the book and they did travel to many of the sites where the events took place, such as Saratoga, Morristown and The Grange. After reading the novel, I saw that the Grange was putting on an Eliza-focused event for Women’s History month and I made sure to attend.


Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr

This is the first in a series of 19 books about the adventures of Anna Pigeon, a National catPark Service Law Enforcement Ranger. Each novel is a mystery which Anna must solve within the confines of a national park and its community.

Track of the Cat is Anna’s first assignment to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas. There she must solve the puzzle behind the mysterious death of a fellow ranger.

Nevada Barr was a Park Ranger herself and created the character of Anna Pigeon when she was working in Guadalupe NP. Her descriptive imagery of the terrain, wildlife and the insider view of the NPS can only have come from firsthand experience.

I have not yet been to any of the Texas parks, but my friends Scott and Tiff over at Raven About The Parks have blogged about Guadalupe. You can see that post here.

Dark Divide and Badlands Witch by Carrie Vaughn

darkThese paranormal novellas are very loosely tied to public lands. An ex-con retired from vampire hunting and the centuries old witch who shares his consciousness travel to Donner Pass to help a Tahoe National Forest Ranger solve the mystery behind another ranger’s death…was it the ghosts of the Donner Party?

I don’t have pictures, but I have been through Donner Pass. A friend and I were traveling for our company many years ago. The plan was to start off in our Reno stores and then drive to Sacramento to rendezvous with a district manager. A sudden snowstorm in the pass trapped us in a fleabag motel in Reno for the night. Rather than risk the specter of starvation and cannibalism in a Sierra Nevada blizzard, we shared a room, pushed a dresser against the door and slept with one eye open until the sun rose the next day.

In Badlands Witch, the duo heads to the Badlands to solve another supernatural murderbad mystery. These books are fun, quick reads that are more about immersing the reader in the Kitty-verse (these characters are a spin-off from the Kitty Norville series) than in the landscape, but the author did do her research to make sure she got the vibe right.

Carrie Vaughn posted about her Badlands research trip here. She also visited Deadwood and Custer State Park.


Happy New Year!


Walkill River National Wildlife Refuge: Winding Waters Trail


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


The Walkill River National Wildlife Refuge protects a ten mile stretch of the Walkill River. This river flows north from Sussex County, New Jersey, up into New York State and into a tributary of the Hudson River.


The Lenape called the river Twischsawkin, or ‘the land of plentiful plums.’ As European settlers moved into the fertile valley, they lowered the water levels by constructing a canal. When the area became a wildlife refuge in 1990, much of the natural area was reclaimed from farmlands.


The Winding Waters Trail follows an old farm road up the river and through fields in a 2.1 mile loop. It begins at one of the refuge’s canoe launches, just down the road from the Liberty Loop Parking Lot, and is entirely on the New York side of the border.


Walkill River NWR posts:


Location: Oil City Rd, Pine Island, NY

Designation: National Wildlife Refuge

Date designated or established: 1990

Date of my visit: 3/9/2019



Zion National Park: Pa’Rus Trail


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


On our last day in Zion, we spent the morning hiking the strenuous trail to Angel’s Landing (you can see my post about that hike here and here.) We were exhausted from that hike, but still wanted to see more of this beautiful park. After lunch, we rode the shuttle to the Visitor Center and spoke to a ranger about our options.


He suggested the easy and level Pa’Rus trail. It is 1.8 miles from the Visitor Center and is mostly paved or hard-pack. It was designed to ease congestion during the busy months…it provides a way for hikers and bicyclists to get from the Visitor Center to the car-free section of the park road.


It winds through campgrounds at first and then by the Virgin River. There are several river access points along the way if you want to get right down by the river.


Pa’Rus is a Paiute word that means tumbling water. The water was really high and fast during our visit, so high the National Park Service had to shut down The Narrows, a hike further upstream. Part of that hike must be hiked in the river.


The trail crosses back and forth across the river as you travel north via rustic bridges.


As you near the end of this trail, you must look downstream for the iconic view of the Watchman towering over the river. The trail ends close to another shuttle stop, which we hopped on back to the lodge.


For being an easy trail, I was surprised by how peaceful it was. We only encountered a few cyclists and pedestrians along the way.


Location: Hurricane, UT 84737

Designation: National Park

Date designated/established: 11/19/1919

Date of my visit: April 2017