On Location Series #32–Caledon State Park

Caledon is where the first colonial seat of the Alexander family once was. John and Philip Alexander originated the city of Alexandria and established Caledon Plantation in 1659. William A. Smoot inherited the property from the Alexander family sometime in the 1800s. The land was then donated to the commonwealth of Virginia in 1974 by Ann Hopewell Smoot. It became a state Natural Area in 1984 to help protect the eagle population and then in a state park in 2012. Close to 60 eagles have been spotted near the bluffs overlooking the Potomac River in King George County. Preservation of the national bird’s habitat is the chief focus of the natural area.

That concludes the historical part of Caledon State Park. As a common theme with quite a few parks in the DMV (DC, Maryland & Virginia), a wealthy family donated land to the local city or state to turn into a community park. Caledon, much like the park in Port Tobacco, Maryland, came into existence for the same reasoning along with being a haven for the bald eagles.

Now, my exploration was shared by a good friend, Chris, and he, along with his two sons, joined me on the hike. My daughter, sadly, was with her mother for the weekend and could not take part in this trek. Nevertheless, we went forward and made a good half of day of it. It was August 14th of this year, as humid described this day.

I must say, we as fathers came prepared as between, the both of us, we had:

  • 8 bottles of water
  • 3 bags of chips
  • Several granola bars
  • 4 Gatorade bottles

I, of course, had my OFF spray, bear repellent, to fend of minor and major inconveniences. I did not expect to see a bear on our hike, but I was surprised when there were little to no mosquitoes even after it rained the day prior.

A good surprise, so we took that augury of a comfortable hike, well, at least sustaining comfort from not being bit across our arms and legs.

At the entrance to the numerous trails in the park, we first came across the visitor’s house.  It appeared to be a two-story single-family dwelling, but it was closed for the day.  We did get a few pamphlets outing the various trails and showcasing a map.  The trails were:

  • Boyd’s Hole Trail
  • Hempstead Road Trail
  • Belmont Trail
  • Boyd’s Hole
  • Caledon Marsh

We walked the Caledon Marsh and the Boyd’s Hole Trail, which lead down to the Potomac River. The walk was mostly downhill, if not all. There was no opening, so we were kept secluded from the sun, and the only time it became brighter was when we arrived at the marsh. At that point, we were nearing the river.

Just before arriving at the marsh, Chris spotted an opening to the left of us. A wooden fence boundary enclosed it, and it appeared the ground was disturbed a long time ago. We assumed that it was natural erosion, or maybe something else?

Chris did speak about reading an article last year about unmark African American gravesites, former slaves who were given no identification when placed in the ground. Chris also added that there were a lot of mass graves in which slaves were buried. It was disrespectful for such an act to occur, but then again, African Americans were not considered full humans during that time. An article from the Washington Post dated—September 5, 2021, spoke about this, yet the location was near Charlottesville, VA (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/historical-society-identifying-graves-of-slaves-at-va-park/2021/09/05/6ceb3302-0e49-11ec-baca-86b144fc8a2d_story.html?variant=45bcfc8a951d56c3).

Regrettably, in this article, CNN spoke about African American headstones being desecrated by unknown hoodlums ( https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/24/us/harmony-cemetery-gravestones-repatriated/index.html) in King George, VA.  The graves were in or near Caledon State Park, which was why I mentioned it in the first place.

Let’s resume; we finally came upon the river. It was a near hour-long trek, but it was worth the journey. The sandy beach was hot; however, there were shaded areas that had benches inside of them. I sat it on the bench for the most part taking photos while Chris and the boys walked along the shoreline. Again, it was a blistering day, but the water was cool (yes, I touch it), and the boys seem to enjoy it. We even took pictures of some of the insects we found near the water, along with an old weather-worn brick. Chris discovered it—quite an interesting fine, eh?

Well, that was mostly it for the hike. We walked back after spending 40 minutes to an hour at the river. We did not explore the other trails due to the lateness of the day and our desire to eat lunch. I enjoyed this park, and I will come back another day to walk the rest of the paths, but for now, I will savor what we have seen and touch. The newness of nature almost unmasks by a moment in all light and darkness. It was a splendid time to be among friends, the season remarking before the coming of the cold.

Thanks again for taking this journey with me. I hope you appreciated the pictures; also, please check out the videos below. Until next time…

https://youtube.com/shorts/U0Dz-Fq0uuI?feature=share

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