My husband and I have been to most of the major parks all over the state, so we were looking for somewhere new to visit. Lo-and-behold, we found an add for Maria State Park, which is only about an hour from our place advertising nice hiking trails, beautiful scenery, etc. Too good to be true so close to home, right? Definitely.
First thing you'll want to know if you go to this park: Don't you dare try to self-register. When you drive in to the main station there are two advertised options: (a) self register (there's a HUGE sign advertising self registration with a drop box to place your $5 check/cash), or (b) go inside the crowded office and pay the lady behind the desk. Since we go to state parks to enjoy nature and "get away" from the business of our lives, and not to chit-chat, we usually opt for self registration whenever possible. OH NO. Big mistake. As I was filling out the self-registration pamphlet, the lady working in the office came outside and nearly bit my head off...why would I fill out the self-registration when she was clearly open for business? I'm just like all the others who try to "get away" with not following the rules, etc, etc. Really? If you don't want folks to self register when the office is open, then maybe (a) take down the huge self registration sign, (b) add a sign that indicates when folks are NOT allowed to self register, or (c) add a sign that says you're open. My gosh. After hearing a piece of her mind, we nearly left right then....we came to enjoy nature, not to feel the wrath of some overly cranky park lady who has to take out her life's frustrations on poor visitors.
In the end, we decided to not let her ruin our day. We parked and got out to go on a nice hike.
A word to the wise: The park advertises that it has trails for hiking and horseback riding and 4-wheelers. It doesn't clarify that these are NOT separate trails....they are all the same. We started off on what was about a 3 mils hike. However, due to all the massive piles of horse poop every few feet that we had to constantly navigate around, this was likely closer to a 4 mile hike. Looking back, I'm not sure why we took the trouble of walking around it....since there is so much of it and it never appears to be cleaned up, its likely that what we thought were dirt paths are actually paths MADE of decomposed horse poop.
We walked in the direction of what was advertised as a scenic overlook. After walking about a mile, you will come to the base of the overlook, climb a decently steep hill, and get to the top for a breathtaking view......of County Road 111 directly below and a factory steam stack just to the east. Both my husband and I said "really?" at the same time. The couple who had walked up just before was equally confused. None of us decided to sit on the benches at the top to enjoy the "view".
paths are clear, but where they go to is not. there are signs at MAYBE half of the path intersections. We came to one point where 5 paths met....no signs....we literally just had to pick a direction (wrong of course) walk until we found the next sign, take a picture of that map, walk back and then follow the correct path.
I could go on, but its not really worth it.
Take it from someone who loves a good state park...unless you really can't afford the extra $3.50 for gas, drive the extra 45 minutes to a better park with friendly, professional staff, more family friendly trails, and better scenery.
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