I don’t know about you but I was ready for spring to get here weeks ago, so I planned my first camp out for this weekend no matter what the weather was like. Well it was cold and or windy most of the weekend, however I enjoyed myself immensely (and I like to think my family did too!)
For our first camp out of the year, we went to Watkins Mill State Park and Historic Site. We’ve camped here before, and always like to come back for the wooded campsites and the well kempt walking trails and historic sites. Most of the campsites are gravel (there are a few concrete), with both 30 and 50 amp electrical sites available; sewer is not available, but the dump site is easily accessible. All of the campsites have ample trees and several have trees on two or three sides so you have a very private area if you wish.
I think the biggest draw to Watkins Mill is the lake and walking and biking trails. The trail around the lake is accessible from the campsites and is a 3.75 miles trail for walking and biking. Even though there was a chill in the air there were plenty of people and pets enjoying them. The trail is paved all the way around; there are streams and bridges, some rough patches, but otherwise smooth. There are some shorter trails near the Mt. Vernon Church and the Franklin School as well as near the visitors’ center, leading out to the mill. All the trails are pet friendly except for the one leading to the mill.
The area around the mill itself is accessed through the Visitor Center. Inside the center are examples of fabrics made inside the mill, findings from archeological digs in the area, the history of the mill and other odds and ends related to Watkins Mill and the family who ran it.
From the visitors center you can catch a tour of the house and mill (for a fee) or you can take yourself on a tour (which was my option). The trails leading to the house and mill are pea gravel, and to get to the house you cross a tree lined lawn that simply takes you back in time. You can see a historical outdoor kitchen, chickens and turkeys, bee hives, as well as an heirloom garden. All of the plants in the garden were available in the 19th century, so there are some varieties that aren’t seen very often anymore. I must admit, the garden is my favorite part, and I wish that is what my garden looked like. A little further down is the mill, with original equipment and a barn showing common farming machinery from the time period. Oh and sheep, because you can’t have a woolen mill without sheep.
This Saturday (April 20th) they are hosting Spring on the Farm (I apparently went a week too early, stinks for me, great for you). You will be able to enjoy sheep shearing, a livestock display, heirloom garden planting, toy making, woodstove cooking, rag doll making, blacksmithing and more. The event is free of charge and both the Franklin School and Mt. Vernon Church will be open (normally you can only look in the windows).
Weekends from May 25th – August 11th Watkins Mill hosts a Living History Program with costumed interpreters presenting period activities of the late 19th century: gardening, woodstove cooking, laundry, weaving and children’s games.
I always seem to camp at Watkins Mill in the early spring or late fall – I think this year I need to make it again when they are in season.
For more information on Watkins Mill State Park and Historic Site:
I plan on visiting several different local campsites this year, where is your favorite place to camp nearby?