Hiking Saxapahaw Island (with a note on Name Change)

Before I get to the hiking in today’s post, I should mention that yesterday I changed the title of my blog from Mark All My Words to Mark Explores.

Despite that, there won’t be much change, if any, in my blog. I’ll still be doing mostly hiking posts with lots of landscape, nature, and plant photos. There will still be occasional selfies. I’ll still try to make my posts as accurate and well-researched as possible. And I’m still keeping the same domain name (http://markallmywords.com), at least for now.

The reason for this is that I want to make things more relevant and concise. Hopefully you’ve noticed that my posts aren’t quite as long and rambling as they once used to be. Though, like most writers, I tend to be verbose, I’m making a conscious effort to rein this in. Beyond that, I’m keeping most of the focus on hiking, though I still may have the occasional post on plants, animals, or the importance of protecting nature.

That said, let’s get to the hiking.

On March 28, 2022, I arrived at Saxapahaw Island Park (5550 Church Road, Graham, NC 27253), ready for an easy 1.5 mile hike on Saxapahaw Island Loop. I’d been there once before, so I knew what I was in for: great views of the Haw River, an abandoned mill site, the Saxapahaw Hydroelectric Dam, and even a surreal wooden artwork/slide in the shape of a gigantic fish.

After I got out of my car, I looked at the sign for the park.

Unfortunately it only stays open until 6 PM, and it was already about 5 PM. But after a moment’s hesitation, I decided to stick with my plan.

Heading southeast, I joined Saxapahaw Island Loop. After about a few hundred feet, I came to a beautiful sugarberry tree (Celtis laevigata), where I took a photo.

Then after another tenth of a mile, I came to a fork in the trail and veered right.

Soon I came to a sandy beach, of all things, where a small island ahead indicated the previous location of a water mill.

Once done, I headed back to the main trail and rejoined it.

After looping around the southeastern extent of the island — which you can see more of in my latest YouTube video — I came back to the main trail again.

To my right, the Haw River flowed past the far bank, where occasional walkers passed.

After another quarter mile or so, I came to an old weir.

A weir is a kind of barrier in the water used to catch fish, distinguishable by the curious V-shaped rapids in the water.

Within a tenth of a mile, I passed another clearing.

On the opposite bank, a fisherman stood on the edge of the water, casting his line out and reeling it in.

After a few hundred feet, I came to a downed tree.

It was probably the victim of a parasitic infection that weakened its structural integrity and made it more liable to damage in one of the many unseasonably powerful storms we’ve had lately.

Soon I reached the playground again and decided to get a picture of the strange artwork/slide in the middle.

According to a nearby sign, this is a model of the bowfin (Amia spp.), a native fish with a distinctive anatomy that also happens to be one of the oldest known species of fish. (Jump to scene in my latest YouTube video to see more of it.)

Within another quarter mile, I came to the bridge leading to downtown Saxapahaw.

Underneath, there were patches of street art that had been painted over several times.

In a few hundred feet, I came to a rocky bank, where the Haw River stretched in front of me for another quarter mile or so.

In the distance, I could just make out the Saxapahaw Hydroelectric Dam, water cascading down the concrete in a constant stream.

Quickly I finished the rest of the trail, about three minutes shy of closing time. And as I drove away, I realized what a privilege it is to have places like this in our world, where nature can have some semblance of a chance to thrive.




4 thoughts on “Hiking Saxapahaw Island (with a note on Name Change)

  1. Thanks for taking us with you on your hike through your great photos and explanative dialogue. I’m anxiously waiting for our weather to improve a bit to get outdoors to our hiking/walking trails.


  2. Nice to see you Mark. I figured that was you, despite the name change. Still taking lovely pictures of beautiful places. It looks so peaceful and what brilliant weather. Up here in NY they say we will get a Nor’easter tonight but that’s how it goes in these parts. I am a Winter person, so it’s all good for me! Best wishes.


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