Indulge me, please, in this one last hike that I will share with you from our visit to Virginia last week. The trail that leads to Rapidan Camp is a beautiful walk with a gradual decline of about 850 feet. Believe me, it’s a lot when you ascend, but I just kept taking small breaks on the way back up.
The Mill Prong Trail begins at milepost 52.8, up by Big Meadows. The camp was formerly named Camp Hoover and was Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover’s home away from home from 1929 to 1932.
That’s my husband, crossing the stream in the first photo up there. We crossed Mill Prong Stream back and forth for a total of three times and the footing was pretty good on all three crosses. There are beautiful pools and little waterfalls along the trail as well.
We hiked for approximately 2 miles and the photo above shows us coming out to the edge of the camp on the main camp road. There are three buildings that have been restored and the rest of the camp is gone except for the trails that still run through the retreat. The house we’re coming to first is the Creel.
The Creel housed two of the president’s chief aids. Larry Richey, his personal secretary and former FBI agent, shared this cabin with the president’s personal physician, Joel T. Boone, Jr.
Presidential aids that were stationed at the camp have said that this fireplace was mainly used for outdoor photographs. When reporters and authors wanted pictures of the Chief Executive and his guests, they were often posed here. Logs were positioned around the hearth for people to sit upon.
Here’s the fireplace, circa 1930. That fire looks pretty photogenic, too.
President Hoover was an avid outdoorsman and loved to fish, saying that it was “an excuse and a valid reason of the widest range of usefulness for temporary retreat from our busy world”. He and his wife wanted a place within 100 miles driving distance from the capitol and chose this spot because of the natural beauty and the proximity to the Rapidan River which flows right by the camp. The photo above shows the presidential cabin which is callled The Brown House. During the week, they lived in The White House. Get it?
This is a file photo of President Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover standing on the footbridge that you see in the photo above.
“This camp,—at the end of nowhere, with a road that in wet weather lets you sink to your hubs in slushy mush and while there bump over the most amazing boulders . . . -- has electric lights and a telephone and its morning papers. The mail is dropped from an airplane!”
—Mrs. Lou Henry Hoover
US and foreign leaders came to the isolated and secure location of this camp for strategy sessions with the president.
It’s really an interesting place. And what’s even better is that if you don’t want to do the hike, a little tour van leaves from Big Meadows, driving the two miles in to the camp. Plus, you get to go inside all the buildings and get a guided tour from a park official. The last time we were here, we lucked out and all the buildings were open as there was a tour going on.
To view some wonderful old photographs of the camp, visit this site.
Thanks, everyone, for sharing this hike with me. I do have to admit that on the way back up the trail, just after we’d eaten our lunch, I spotted a black bear cub running up the trail about 100 yards behind us. I freaked out and took off up the trail! My husband thought I was crazy and told me to change the lens, to put on the zoom. I just wanted to get out of there because I knew that momma bear would be around somewhere and I didn’t want to run into HER. The cub eventually veered off into the woods.
Until tomorrow, my friends . . .