I wrote this in December of 2011 but believe it needs to be included here.
Fall in St Joe Park:
The fall of 2011, I discovered that St Joe State Park had these beautiful paved trails with lots of hills and valleys and totally free of motorized traffic, though an occasional bicycle might be encountered. The nearest trailhead is two miles from my house and if I drive to the Farmington trailhead, I have a five mile walk back to that closest point and can have my wife pick me up and take me back to my truck. Makes a fantastic 2 1/2 hour walk, including breaks.
There are shorter trails and longer ones with the main loop around the park being eleven miles. The fall is a wonderful time to walk there as deer and turkey may be seen and all you have to watch for are the bicycles.
When I was a kid, St Joe Park was owned by St Joe Lead Company and they were very particular about who they allowed on their property. My brother and I and a friend used to spend our summers riding our horses all over those hills and when we encountered St Joe employees, were easily able to outrun and outmaneuver them as we weren’t restricted to the mining and logging roads. A lumber company, I believe Botkin, was logging up there and kept a couple work mules in a small penned area with spring water running through it and a lean-to shed for shelter and to store hay. We drank from the spring and often put our horses in the pen to rest as they were empty during the day. The lumber company employees never gave us trouble, just money to ride down to Fingers Store in Leadington and get them cigarettes or candy or sodas and a little extra for us. St Joe Park has an area of marked trails for horses now but from 1959 until 1965, it was ours and there were no restrictions.
The trail in my photo here is just above Monsanto Lake where the park now allows swimming and fishing but in our day, we figured it was there for us to water our horses. It had a duck blind out in the middle of it but much as we watched it, never saw anyone there.
I never dreamed that I’d be walking these hills as an old man and that I’d be taking so much pleasure in their beauty and capturing that beauty with a camera, or that where I once rode for pleasure and freedom, I would be walking fifty years later for the same reasons.