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Published: October 2nd 2011
Part I - Goshen and Warm Springs
Why Here? Why Now?
It is funny how sometimes in your rush to get from here to there you speed by places you should stop and visit. For almost twenty years, my wife and I have at various times sped path Staunton and Goshen, Virginia on our way to our annual visit to Warm Springs, VA.
Recently, we purchased a LivingSocial "Staunton" Escape package from the Hummingbird Inn
(see my review on TripAdvisor
) which included two nights at the Inn with wine and cheese upon arrival, a voucher for Rockbridge Vineyard
, and, in Staunton, a dinner voucher for Zynodoa
, two tickets to the Blackfriars Playhouse
(we saw The Tempest
), and a voucher for ice cream or gelato at The Split Banana
. I will talk more about most of this Part II - Staunton, but suffice it to say that, except for Rockbridge, everything was great. Rockbridge was OK, but Virginia has many wineries
that are far better.
First Day - Old Habits Die Hard
On our first day, we arrived at the Hummingbird Inn well before check in time, so we dropped off our bags and headed to familiar territory. We drove the twenty or so miles over Warm
Springs Mountain to Hidden Valley
, on the outskirts of Warm Springs; so, I guess, in a sense, were still rushing to get from here to there. Anyway, Hidden Valley is, in many ways, a Hidden Gem that we enjoy visiting year after year. We were very happy to be able to make an extra visit this year. Not only is it a beautiful area for hiking, but this stretch of the Jackson River is popular with trout fishermen. We frequently see them wearing their waders, standing midstream and casting their lines; they seem so very relaxed and zen-like....poetry in motion.
At Hidden Valley we took one of our favorite short hikes. This is a combination of hiking the Hidden Valley Trail on one side of the river, then crossing the river at the swinging bridge to hike back to the car on part of the Jackson River Gorge Trail. This is a short, scenic hike which is not too taxing (the entire Hidden Valley Trail is flat), though the Jackson River Gorge section can be narrow in some areas and does have some ups and downs. While on the Jackson River Gorge Trail I periodically enjoy stopping to just enjoy
the view down onto the river and to listen to the sound of the water as it rushes along. Overall, it takes us about an hour and fifteen minutes to do the loop. Another hike we enjoy that is a bit longer and more rigorous, is the Cobbler Mountain Trail, which intersects the Hidden Valley Trail close to the swinging bridge. This is a very pretty and enjoyable trail which really gives one the feeling of being in the woods and away from civilization; the only downside is that at the end you have to walk 0.7 miles along the road back to your car. There are also several other hikes in the area that we have yet to explore.
After our short hike, we headed back to Warm Springs and The Jefferson Pools
for a soak. The baths are contained in two buildings, generally one is for men and one is for women, though they now do have family hours. Normally, we don't bother with bathing suits, but I guess we would have to do so if we arrived during the family hours. The water in the baths is 98 degrees Fahrenheit, just about body temperature. Soaking in the warm
Men's Bath - Note the Roof
Jefferson Pools - Warm Springs
water while feeling the bubbles as the water seeps up from the ground is very relaxing. Foam "noodles" are available to help you float as you relax. There is also an area where you can get washed over by a torrent of the water as it leaves the pool. This makes a for a nice water massage; I've done it once in 19 years, it was nice, but I prefer to just float, soak, stare at the ceiling and day dream.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to the Jefferson pools. First, the price for a soak is a rather steep $17! Second, the pools were taken over by the Homestead Resort several years ago. As the price increased, so did the neglect of the structures. Even though there are signs of some minor repairs, many shingles on the roof are missing, and the walls are in poor repair. The roof of the men's pool is open and covered with a screen; this year I noticed that the screen was torn. There was once a rope to hold onto in the water massage area, but the attendant mentioned that is had broken off, and it sounded as if they had
no intention of replacing it. My wife reports that conditions in the women's pool are no better. It is really a shame; in the past when we stayed in Warm Springs we would visit the baths every day, now we will typically go once per visit.
Anyway, after a relaxing soak in the crumbling structures, we headed back to the Hummingbird Inn to enjoy our wine and cheese and to spend a relaxing evening. On route, we stopped at the overlook on Warm Springs Mountain to enjoy the vistas.
In Part II (coming soon) I will talk about our trip to Staunton and the very pleasant day we spent there.
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