Monday, August 29, 2016

Lake Anna State Park - Kid Friendly Hiking, Fishing and Swimming

While I can't say that Lake Anna State Park is the ideal campground in general, I can say that for our one-night camping trip with Tzipora, Dovid and Chana, it was perfect! The campground, especially when compared to the adventure of a few weeks ago, was dang near empty. We saw a few other tents, but almost no other campers during our entire stay.

The first order of business: setup the tent, which the kids were glad to assist with. From there, we headed down to the lake area and spent some time fishing in the kid friendly pond. While the pond was the ideal fishing spot, with places for the kids to sit and all, the fish weren't biting. Tzipora occupied herself by busting open the worms and playing with them.

After fishing, it was time to focus on dinner. We had plenty of dry wood, so I had no problem lighting a fire. After a meal of hot dogs, potatoes, beans and smores, it was finally time to call it a night. Like last year, the weather was absolutely flawless. We slept with the tent fly off and could stare up to see the perfect night sky dotted with thousands of stars.

The real reason to visit Lake Anna is to hit the lake. And the next morning that's exactly what we did. The plan was to get in a short hike, then hit the beach and finally do a little more fishing.

We did a 1.6 mile hike, with me lagging behind with Tzipora. She alternated between being terrified of the daddy long legs, which as we would learn later in the day from Google, aren't even spiders and stopping to inspect and collect interesting looking leaves. She'd see an interesting leaf. Pick it up. Fish the flashlight out of her shoulder bag. Shine the light on the specimen. After a few moments of close examination, she'd put the flashlight and leaf back in her bag. She repeated this process a good half dozen or more times. It was all very Jane Goodall.

We also made other important discoveries: mainly she found and *touched* a toad, that hopped off before we could photograph it. She also found a beautiful butterfly that couldn't or wouldn't fly away from us. Tzipora's working theory: the wings of the butterfly must have been wet. Between this hike and the worm incident of the night before, she's definitely our little naturalist in training.

After we knocked out the hike we could get to the good stuff: hitting the beach at Lake Anna. This was truly the perfect spot for the kids who love water, but are pretty firm about not getting dunked underneath. The water temperature was perfect and I enjoyed frolicking in it as much as the kids did. After our successful visit to Breezy Point Beach earlier in the week, I wasn't quite sure how Lake Anna would stack up. It definitely held its own; what it lacked in waves and prehistoric shark teeth it more than made up for in gentle, sandy beach perfection.

After swimming and PB&J lunch, we squeezed in one more little mini activity. I took Dovid back to the fishing pond for one more go. While Dovid wanted to fish in Lake Anna proper, I thought our luck would be better in the smaller pond. And I was right. On the second to last cast before we left, Dovid pulled in a fish! My guess is that it was a 3~4" sunfish, and Dovid was quite excited to actually land it. He was disappointed when I explained we had to toss it back, but he got to add it to his fishing successes.

After 45 minutes of fishing, it was time to call it quits, pack up the car and head back to civilization.

I really was impressed with all that Lake Anna had to offer: the low-key beach, kid friendly fishing and easy hiking loop were just what we needed. I'd love to have explored the gold mine, but alas, this kid friendly program that Lake Anna State Park offers wasn't timed right with our visit. Next time.

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