Small historical parks are often overlooked as possible locations for easy park hikes, and that's a shame, because many of them offer some fine opportunities. That's definitely the case at Carl Sandburg Home National Historical Site in North Carolina, which includes both an easy hike or two plus just a little exercise on a nice network of trails.
The park's 263 acres include the home and farm where the famous American author and his wife Lilian lived from 1945 until his death in 1967. They chose the area because it offered a quiet place for Sandburg to write and an ideal location for Lilian Sandburg to raise her prize-winning dairy goats. The farm named Connemara proved to be a winner on both counts, and today's visitors to the park can enjoy the house, the farm and some fine walks across the wooded hillsides.
About five miles of trails wind through the site, and they offer a chance to enjoy the tranquil setting that inspired Sandburg's work. Unless they need special assistance, all visitors to the house and farm site get to experience a short, one-third mile path that climbs a gentle hill above the parking area. That route offers a fine view of the home, a small lake, landscaped grounds and a wooded area.
If you'd rather stay on more level terrain, a short walk of less than a half mile begins near the parking area and circumnavigates the small body of water below the house known as Front Lake. A spur trail from the south end of the lake offers an alternate route uphill to the house.
A network of trails leads into the forested area behind and above the house and offers a choice of several routes, although the footing is sometimes a bit rough and any of these trails involve some uphill travel. All of these paths pass through some fine examples of the dense forest common to western North Carolina.
For those who'd like a bit more challenge on their walk, the top of Little Glassy Mountain can be reached by several routes ranging from about a quarter mile to a half mile; the elevation gain is 166 vertical feet. If you'd like a longer hike with some additional climbing, a round trip of under two miles will take you to the summit of Glassy Mountain (2783 feet), an elevation gain of 523 feet from the house.
You can pick up a map showing all of the park trails at the small visitor store and bookstore located in the basement of the house.
A short distance behind the house, one of the trails passes a comfortable wooden armchair that sits atop a large rocky outcrop. It was said to be Sandburg's favorite place to work outdoors, and perhaps it inspired the following quote from his writing:
"It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and ask of himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?'"
Sounds like timely advice for all of us.