As the only trail at Penrose Point State Park that doesn't allow mountain biking, the surface is in fairly good condition, while the other trails have some fairly significant mud holes in wet weather due to being torn up by the mountain bikes. Signs at trails connecting to this trail inform bikers to walk their bikes while they are on this portion of the park's trail system.
The features along the trail are numbered, with a sign at the main entrance to the trail giving some meaning to the numbers. To really get some value out of the interpretive trail, however, you need to have a brocure that tells the real story behind each of the markers and what is going on at that location. Unforuntately, the park had run out of such brochures upon my visit to the trail.
There are quite a number of picnic tables scattered throughout Penrose Point State Park, many of them with nearby barbecue stands. Many of these picnic tables have a view of Mayo Cove.
There are two picnic shelters that are large enough to cover one table. All picnic tables and the two shelters are considered "first come first served".
On a good day, you could just set up your picnic on the beach or grass - there's a lot of open space in a few locations. Follow the hiking trails to get to more remote areas of the beaches along the shores of the park.
Please make sure you take you trash out with you!
There are approximately 2.5 miles (4.1 km) of trails in Penrose Point State Park. These trails range from very well built wide gravel to narrow muddy trails. If it is wet, some of the trails become impassable due to deep water across the trail.
Mountain biking is allowed on ALL trails EXCEPT for a small loop near one of the day use parking area, which is fairly well marked and has signs telling riders to walk their bikes while they are on that area of the trail system.
The trail system is extremely well marked, including a map of the trail system at each trail interchange. Each trail interchange is given a letter designation, and it is then possible to associate that trail intersection with the location on the map.
An assortment of local tourist information is available at the booth in the campground. This includes various information about the park itself, nearby parks, and information on local activities.
To get to the campground, follow signs to main entrance to Penrose Point State Park. just past the entrance gate, turn left at the sign indicating the entrance to the campground. On the left, just past the entrance to the campground, there is a small booth that serves as the pay station for the campground. It also has a literature rack for local information.
You would not want to come to a state park remote from the city and find it filled with trash from previous visitors. Unfortunately, sometimes that happens.
Along with a number of recycling facilities throughout the park (which help with the "green" part of "Clean and Green"), the park also features a creative "litter meter" which indicates how much trash has been picked up in the park in recent days.
Despite the fact that it is never far from a trash can or recycling bin in the park, there are some people who still can't be bothered to dispose of their trash correctly.
"Nurse Logs" are what happens when a tree grows out of the remains of an older, dead tree. The nutrients being released from the old tree help nourish the growth of the new tree.
As the old tree decays, the new tree is left with an eccentric root pattern that may at times leave the basic trunk of the tree elevated.
Penrose Point State Park as a number of such "elevated" tree stumps where decayed trees have simply vanished, and new trees have taken their place. Due to these being somewhat unstable trees due to the root structure, unfortunately in many cases the tree has to be taken down to prevent a hazard to park visitors. In other cases, the trees have been left as-is.
All of these photos have been taken inside this park, and provide a good illustration of how these trees form out of old stumps:
1. A small tree gets started by seed inside the stump of a much older tree.
2. The roots grow around the old stump, and eventually go into the ground, leaving the old stump as only partially in support of the new tree.
3. Eventually, the roots nearly completely surround the old stump, allowing it to continue to decay, while the new tree gets its nourishment directly from the soil in its new roots.
4. When the stump is completely decayed, the new tree is left suspended in mid-air, supported only by its roots. The old stump is only known by the shape of the root structure of the new tree.