Cochran Mill Park Hiking Fail

Early on a Wednesday morning, I decide to start my work early so I can hit up the trails for a late afternoon hike with my pup. Our trip to Cochran Mill Park starts off rocky and ends with disappointment and frustration. Hiroki and I pull into the gravel parking area for the park. I park the car, stuff a few things into my day pack, and step out of the car. After this moment everything goes to shit. I open the backseat passenger door to let Hiroki out but before I could unlatch his seatbelt from his harness, he jumps out of the car. His body jerks back and now he is awkwardly suspended above the ground. I struggle to hold him up while I remove the seatbelt latch. The whole incident looks ridiculous. Once Hiroki is safely on the ground, I check him out to make sure he isn’t hurt. He appears to be okay, so we head over to the parking fee machine. As I’m trying to figure out how to pay for parking, Hiroki restlessly paces around peeing on anything he can. I reprimand him for pulling on the leash, so he proceeds to pee on the parking fee machine. I should have just let him pee on the stupid thing because in my attempt to stop him he ends up spraying my day pack instead. I seriously contemplate going home after that. I just purchased that pack and as I am moving it out of the way I end up putting a small scratch on the top of my new water bottle. I am so upset. I throw Hiroki back in the car so I could pay for parking without distraction.

After I figure out the parking fee situation, I attempt to pump myself up. “We can still have a good time,” I tell myself.  I let Hiroki out of the car, and we walk towards the trail entrance on the other side of the parking lot. There is no information about this trail. Only a single sign asking hikers and bikers to check the trail status. Apparently, the trails are closed at least 24 hours after rain. We begin walking and I immediately notice there are no makers on this trail. We walk for five minutes or so before the trail dead-ends into this gravel road. To my right, I notice another trail several yards down the road. We walk over and we have two choices. We could take the path on the left side of the road or the path on the right. Again, there are no signs addressing either trail. We have no idea how long they are or where they lead. With no guidance, we take the path to the left. This trail meanders and snakes for no apparent reason other than to extend the distance. On a normal day, this would not bother me, but since I don’t know where we are headed, I can feel the annoyance building. There’s no one around so I’m more diligent about remembering where we have walked. After about forty minutes this trail also dead-ends into a gravel road. At that moment a biker comes riding down the road passing us before turning right into another trail. We decide to head in the same direction. Finally, we reach a trail with markers. This is the path to Henry’s Mill Falls. If you google Cochran Mill Park, most pictures that pop up are of the two small falls they have on the property. You would think with the falls being the main attraction to the park there would be more information about this trail. Nope, but at least there were markers.

A few more bikers pass by as we walk the yellow trail towards Henry’s Mill Falls. We chat for a few minutes with a middle-aged biker admiring Hiroki then continue down our path. Shortly after, another biker approaches and warns us that it will be dark in 45 minutes. At this point, I am discouraged. We walk a little further but shortly turn around. I have no idea how much further Henry Falls is, and I would have to walk the whole way back plus the distance to the car. I was bummed but knew we needed to head back. However, my disappointment soon turned to urgency. I mentioned in a previous post that my pup isn’t one for long walks. He enjoys our short walks around our neighborhood immensely, but once he is done, he is done. Luckily, he doesn’t flat out stop, but I’m pulling him the whole way back to the car. I feel terrible. I should know better than to go that far with him. Once we get back to the gravel road, we do not take our original path back. I suspect that taking the road would get us back to our car quicker and thankfully my assumption is correct. My pup does not usually relax in the car. He sits up the whole ride which is why I buckle him in. When we finally reach the car, he is so exhausted he lays down the whole ride home. Not only is this a hiking fail, but it is a dog mom fail as well. The moral of the story, research the trail before you leave. And if your dog pees on your pack just go home.

If you would like to visit Cochran Mill Park and want to be more prepared than I was, check out their website.