Thursday, August 24, 2017

Chimney Rock, North Carolina

Chimney Rock State Park,
Rutherford County, 
North Carolina

Hiking Trails:
Outcroppings Trail
Exclamation Point Trail

Pros: Interesting geological formations and impressive views
Cons: High admission cost, very touristy, and has lots of people
Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Chimney Rock is a well-known granite rock formation in North Carolina, and is now a state park. The area contains a step boardwalk climbing the mountain to Chimney Rock, with many interesting sites and views along the way.

I had gone camping with my family to the North Carolina mountains, and went to Chimney Rock as a day trip. I was surprised at the cost of the entrance fee, and was also disapointed that the elevator up the mountain was broken. I had planning on taking the elevator up and then doing the full Exclamation Point Trail from that point and going down the rest of the way along the Outcroppings Trail. Instead, we all took the Outcroppings Trail up to Chimney Rock, going along the Subway formation by the split on the way up, and the Pulpit Rock split on the way down.

Overall the trail system here is very unique, with the way up entirely on steps on a boardwalk. The top at Chimney Rock features a large American flag and has excellent views. We then climbed the Exclamation Point for a short distance to the Opera Box, a rock formation within the granite outcroppings. We returned back on the Outcroppings Trail.

View From within the Subway Rock Formation

Ascending Towards Chimney Rock

Looking up at the Granite Rock Formation

Chimney Rock on the Right

Gap Before Entering Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock and Lake Lure

Trail f\rom the Gap to Chinmey Rock

View of Parking Lot from Chimney Rock

Granite Formation to the South of Chimney Rock

Lake Lure from Chimney Rock. Facing East.

Looking North to the Village of Chimney Rock

View Looking Toward Bat Cave

Looking Down towards Pulpit Rock and the Village of Chimney Rock

Looking down to Pulpit Rock

View of Chimney Rock from the Opera Box

View of Chimney Rock from the Pulpit

Me at Pulpit Rock

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Catawba Falls, North Carolina

Pisgah National Forest,
Near Old Fort, 
McDowell County, 
North Carolina

Hiking Trails:
Catawba Falls Trail

Total Time: 0:50 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.3 Miles

Pros: Nice waterfall in scenic area
Cons: Wide, double-track path, waterfall less impressive than perceived
Level of Difficulty: Easy

Continuing on my camping trip to North Carolina, we were staying at Catawba Falls Campground, a mere half-mile from the Catawba Falls Trailhead. I felt that if I was staying at this campground I had to visit the falls. In fact, our campsite was right on the site of the Catawba River.

I drove the short half-mile to the parking trailhead, and took the trail up, passing an old ruin, crossing the first bridge, and then passing the first waterfall coming out of the dam. I continued along to the second bridge, past the stream split, to the main waterfalls. I then turned around and went back the same route.

Pisgah National Forest Sign at the Parking Area

Kiosk at the Trailhead

Map of the Route at the Trailhead

The First Bridge Across the Brook, at the Old Ruin

Old Ruin. If Anyone knows what this was, Please Comment.

Old Ruin and Bridge

The First, Lower Falls

Second Bridge Crossing the Brook

Catawba Falls

Catawba Falls Cascade

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mt. Mitchell Summit, Highest Point in Eastern USA

Mt. Mitchell State Park,
Black Mountains, 
Yancey County, 
North Carolina

Hiking Trails:
Summit Path (Paved Path)
Balsam Nature Trail: White blaze

Total Time: 0:50 hour
Estimated Distance: 0.9 Miles

Pros: Highest Mountain in Appalachians
Cons: Easy to get to with paved path
Level of Difficulty: Very easy

I travelled with my family on a camping trip to North Carolina, where we experienced the eclipse. We were in Old Fort, near Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain in North Carolina, and the tallest mountain in the Appalachian Mountains and in the eastern United States, at 6684 feet.

There is a road that climbs all the way up the mountain, near the summit. It is a fully paved road off the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a parking lot and short paved path to the very top. There is also a short 3/4 mile trail in the summit area as well traversing a Balsam Fir forest with some interesting geology.

We parked at the parking area at the top, took the paved path to the top, and then took the Balsam Trail loop back to the parking lot. This is a very short and easy hike considering the scope and height of this mountain. The weather at the bottom was very hot, in the low 90's. As we climbed the weather decreased, until at the summit it was a very comfortable and sunny low 70's.

Map of the Route

View of Mt. Mitchell from the Blue Ridge Parkway, on the Way

Another View of Mt. Mitchell from Blue Ridge Parkway, Zoomed Out

View from the Picnic Area near the Top of Mt. Mitchell

One of the many Monarch Butterflies at the Mountain

Me at the Summit Sign

Summit Sign at Mt. Mitchell

View Tower on Mt. Mitchell

View from Summit Facing West

View Facing North to Parking Lot and Mt. Craig

View Facing Northeast

Me at the Summit Tower

View Facing East

View Facing South and the Summit Road

View Facing South

View Facing Northwest

Me at the Rock at the Summit

Another View at the Summit Rock

View Facing East

View Facing North, Mt. Crowd

Me at a Cave on the Balsam Nature Trail

Trail Info Sign

View Facing East from the Balsam Summit Trail

Balsam Nature Trail Sign

Bumble Bee on a Flower