Blue Ridge Parkway – Skinny Dip Falls (Milepost 417)

Today we headed to higher elevations where it was cooler. We hadn’t been to Skinny Dip Falls in a couple of years, so thought we’d check it out. The last time that we went there, we ended up in a downpour. Today was a great day for a walk to the falls.

After driving about 23 miles south, from Asheville, the trailhead for Skinny Dip Falls is located across the parkway from the Looking Glass Rock Overlook at milepost 417 on the parkway. It’s over to the right from the parking lot. It’s a 1/2 mile walk to the falls. I’ve seen sites stating that it’s an easy walk. I would definitely call this moderate. This trail has lots of tree roots, and lots of rocks. There are really no signs for the falls. When you start out on the trail, after about 1/10 of a mile, you come to an intersection. Go straight on the trail, and up a little hill. I’d say that the trail that crosses the trail to the falls is probably the Mountains to Sea Trail. You continue approximately another 4/10 of a mile. Once you see the wooden staircase, you are there.

Skinny Dip Falls is a very popular swimming hole. There is a rock that the kids love to jump off of. They jump into a “pool” that I’ve read is about 6 feet deep. There were several people there when we were at the falls, but it was amazing how many people, especially teenagers, we passed on our way back to the car.

Here are a few photos from today. Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Graveyard Fields (Milepost 418)

After our 1 mile round trip walk to Skinny Dip Falls, we drove a little further south on the parkway and took a short 6/10 mile round trip walk to Second Falls (or as some call it, Lower Falls) at Graveyard Fields.

If you haven’t been there in a while, the parking area now has pit toilets, and additional parking spaces. Previously there were only 15 parking spaces. There are now 40. I read somewhere that if you can’t park in one of those 40 spaces, that you have to go to another overlook and walk back. The day that we were there, we found a parking space. But, there were still cars up and down the parkway parked on the side of the road.

A little history about how Graveyard Fields got it’s name. It received this name after the trees in the area were toppled by huge winds. The tree stumps that were left looked like gravestones in a graveyard. But, in 1925, a fire burned the area, and it has since then been trying to recover.

Yellowstone Prong is the river that runs through the area. There are 2 waterfalls at Graveyard Fields. Second Falls (which we took today), and Upper Falls. If you walk to both of the falls, it ends up being about 4 miles in all.

There is a map on the sign at the trailhead, but I always like to take a copy that I keep in my backpack. At the trailhead, you walk down wooden steps and take a paved trail through rhododendron. You then come to a set of stairs that you take down to a bridge that crosses Yellowstone Prong. Today there wasn’t alot of water in the river, and there were people walking out on the rocks and wading the river on both sides of the bridge. After you cross the river, you’ll come to a fork. We took a right to go to Second Falls. Before all of the improvements, most of the trail after crossing the river to the next set of stairs was spent on the ground. Now most of it is boardwalk. You then come to the next set of stairs. This is a pretty long set of stairs. When you get to the bottom of the stairs, you can walk out to the river. It was hard to take photos today because there were so many people. When you are ready to leave the river, as you are heading back to the stairs, there is a little trail that you can take off to your right. This takes you further down the river. We’ve taken that before, but not today.

After you trudge back up all of those stairs, if you want to then go to Upper Falls, watch for the sign / trail on your right just before you cross the river bridge. We didn’t go there today, since we did Skinny Dip Falls first, but if I recall correctly, most of this trail to Upper Falls is fairly level. At the end, there’s a slight climb. Right before you arrive at Upper Falls, there is a split. If you go to the right, you will view the main drop of the falls. If you go to the left, you will do a little rock climbing. When you head back towards the car from here, after about 3/4 of a mile, there will be a fork to the right where you can cross a river bridge. This is a short cut to the parking area.

But today, instead of taking that right to Upper Falls, we just crossed the river and headed back to the car. It was getting to be late in the day and we needed to head towards home.

This evening we did get to see the twins. We ended up having tornado warnings at home. So, Jason and Kim came to the house and hung out in our basement for a while. So, of course I had to include a photo too of Eli and Sawyer.

Here are a few photos from today. Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

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Blue Ridge Parkway – The Lump (Milepost 264.4)

After our little walk at Jumpinoff Rock (from previous post), we headed 4 miles south and took a short walk at The Lump.

You can definitely tell why they call it “The Lump”. It’s a small round hill that rises from the parking area. You have great views of Yadkin Valley and other areas. The walk to the top is only 3/10 of a mile. We made it a little longer by taking a trail to the left as we were starting to head back down. You can take this trail maybe 2/10 of a mile, and then you run into the woods where the trail ends.

The sign at the trailhead talks about Tom Dula’s hanging. The story goes that apparently him and his fiancee, Laura Foster, were going to elope. She left to meet Tom, and then disappeared. A few weeks later, Ann Foster provided the location of Laura’s shallow grave. Tom ended up being hanged for Laura’s murder.

I’ve tried to do some research to find out what the relation of the murder and “The Lump” are. The actual grave locations, I have listed below. Not sure if maybe her body was found at the lump. Or, if maybe they have placed a sign about Tom’s hanging in this location because the graves are nearby. I’ve done some research on the internet and can’t seem to find the location of Laura’s shallow grave.

But, if you are interested in this piece of history, here is the location of their graves that I found on Roadside America.

Directions:The Tom Dula marker is about ten miles southwest of Wilksboro on Hwy 268. When you see the marker, turn left on the unmarked road and go 1.1 miles, not 1.5 as the marker says. Pull into the entrance to an unused farm road that angles to the left. You’ll see the path around the gate (Note: the headstone has been defaced). The Laura Foster marker is about five miles further southwest on Hwy 268. It’s on the right and very easy to miss. Look for the pull-off. The grave is across the road, and visible from it. A path leads to the fenced-in burial site. Careful: the fence is electric!

Here are a few photos from The Lump. Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Jumpinoff Rock (Milepost 260.3)

Today we did a couple of short spurts further north on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This post is a small post about “Jumpinoff Rock”. I’ll post separately our other walk which was at what they call “The Lump”.

Jumpinoff Rock is outside of Glendale Springs, NC. This little leg stretcher is on a portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail. It is 1 mile round trip through a forest path to a beautiful view of the mountains. I’d call it easy to moderate. What causes the moderate piece is probably 1/10 of a mile or so where you have a pretty good hill to walk up. After about 1/2 mile you will arrive at a fork in the trail. Mountains to Sea Trail continues on to the right. Bear to the left and you will quickly arrive at a nice overlook.

Since this is so short, I suggest that you then head south on the parkway and visit The Lump, which you will see in my next post.

Attached are just a few photos from today. Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

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Unicoi County, TN – Rocky Fork

Today we went somewhere not far away because we wanted to go spend some time with the twins too. It was hot and humid, so we headed up to Rocky Fork. It was definitely cooler up there, but still pretty humid.

When we first arrived, there was a Tennessee Wildlife Resources officer sitting there in his vehicle. Wasn’t sure why he was there. Was wondering if maybe we shouldn’t be up there. But, I guess he was just hanging out. He was a real nice guy. He was telling us about the visitors center that was going to be built “where the chimney is”. For those of you that go to this area, you probably know that it’s the area to the right as you go through the gate. But, other than running into him, we saw no one else while we were up there.

We did as we normally do and walk until you get to the split, and kind of bear off to the left. We then get to where you have to do a big creek crossing, and we just stop there, and turn around and head back. We thought with the recent rain that the creek would be amazing. But, it definitely wasn’t as amazing as it was around the same time last year. Here is my post from last year. It talks a little more about the area and you’ll see the difference in water flow. https://rangerannette.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/unicoi-county-tn-rocky-fork/

I look forward to our next visit to the area, during the fall / winter season when there are no leaves on the trees. I think we’ll really be able to get some better photos when everything isn’t so grown up.

I’m also attaching a map of the area that is posted on the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club site. http://tehcc.org/clubwiki/images/Rocky_Fork_Trail_Map.pdf

Here are a few photos from today (including the twins). Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

For directions to Rocky Fork, see my posting above.

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Elizabethton, TN – Tweetsie Trail (Happy Valley Rd. to Osborne Rd.)

Not real sure if we were supposed to, but today when we walked our next leg of the Tweetsie Trail, we parked at Happy Valley Elementary School on Milligan Hwy. We crossed the road, and walked up a short piece of Happy Valley Rd. onto the trail. We headed towards Johnson City. Today’s trip was approximately 3 1/2 miles round trip.

We walked from our starting point, to Osborne Rd where we turned around and headed back. This section had different scenery. There were some spots where you could kind of see mountains way in the background. We walked by the quarry again today. You walk by a few farms. I like barns, so you’ll see that I have posted a few photos of barns below. There was an area on this part of the trail where there was a tiny shelter built. It’s an open area with a view. I’m assuming that once the trail is completed (which it is at the time I am posting), that maybe there will be a little bench built under the shelter. You are then eventually walking across the road from a residential area on Cedar Grove Rd. After crossing Greenlee Rd., the trail falls below the paved road, and you walk a portion of the trail where all you see is the trail because you have the banks on both sides of you. It was a hot and humid day, so was kind of nice under the tree cover. We finally arrived at Osborne Rd. where there were some apartments on the right, so decided to turn around here.

On our way back, when we arrived at the quarry, there were a couple of guys there. They spoke and seemed friendly. But, it was a little uncomfortable because they had guns and were shooting into the quarry. Hopefully we won’t experience that again.

Here are a few photos from today. Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

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Beech Mountain, NC – Emerald Outback

Our goal today was to take the Emerald Outback to both Roan Mountain and the Elk River Valley overlooks.

First of all, we had a very hard time trying to find out how to get to the trailhead. I don’t know if there is another way to get to the trails. But, we started at the visitors center on Beech Mountain. We took the steps on the left hand side of the center, up the hill to the road. We took a left at the top of the stairs, and immediately took a right onto the paved road. When you get up to the top of the hill, don’t bear around to the left onto the paved road, but you kind of bear off to the right and walk around a gate. You continue walking up this road. You pass two sets of ski lifts. Watch on the right because there are some magnificent views. The 2nd set of ski lifts was moving. There were people taking their bikes on the ski lift. As you are walking between the ski lifts, there is a wooded area with unmarked trails on both sides of the road. Just keep on going. You eventually come to a little meadow on your left. We were wondering if we should cut off on that trail. There was a black arrow pointing like you needed to keep going up the road, and it ends up you did need to stay on the road. You then come to another gate. Once you go around that gate, don’t stay on the paved road, but take the gravel road to the right. As you take the gravel road, there are very nice homes on the right. It isn’t too far now and you will reach the trailhead. Due to not being able to find really any information about this trailhead, it was a little frustrating and confusing. But, at least we know what to do now when we go back. According to a map that I saw online, it looks like it’s about 6/10 of a mile to the trailhead.

We headed into the woods at the trailhead. It’s not long and we’re back out at a paved road. We have no earthly idea what to do here. Do we walk down the road? Then, we see a trail across the road. We took that. I won’t even talk about where all we walked. The trail across the road was not the correct way to go. I was bound and determined we were going to walk this trail, so I eventually got us back to the trailhead and here we took off again. Again, we’re back out at the paved road. You have to look pretty hard because you can barely tell that there is a trail over to the left that loops back into the woods. Oz Forest Run trail. Finally, we found our trail.

Oz Forest Run trail for bikers is considered moderate in difficulty. I considered it easy for hiking. I mean, you had tree roots and some places where you had to walk over humps (I guess bicyclists jump these humps).

We took this trail for a ways, and it then intersects with Jackalope’s Mile. This intersection is well signed. Had a sign to go straight to get to Roan Mountain Overlook. We continue through the woods and eventually arrive at the Roan Mountain Overlook. If I recall correctly, once we entered the woods from that paved road that we ran into, it was only about 1/2 mile to the overlook. There is then a sign directing you to head to the right. The overlook is only about 50 feet or so from the trail. Not a real spectacular overlook. Spent a couple of minutes taking pictures. We then continued on the trail towards Elk River Valley Overlook. I must have hit a little area that had cell phone service because my text messages went off. Pulled out my phone and I was needed back home for work. We turned around and headed back towards the car. I’m glad we turned around when we did. Didn’t want to spend any more time than we did in the rain. This was probably the hardest rain that we have ever been caught in. We had our rain jackets, but could have really used our rain pants. We were drenched when we jumped back in the car. Good thing we didn’t need to make any stops on the way home.

Due to our shortened trip, we ended up walking a little over 3 miles.

Attached are a few photos from todays trip. Since we didn’t spend alot of time in the woods, not alot of trail pictures. Just some helpful photos to get to this particular trailhead. Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

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Elizabethton, TN – The Tweetsie Trail (Gap Creek Rd. to Quarry)

We had heard from my sister that there were already people walking the Tweetsie Trail, so we decided to walk a little of it today. We came across other people walking, saw some runners, and several bikers.

The trail doesn’t officially open until Labor Day weekend. It’s part of Rails to Trails. The trail connects Elizabethton and Johnson City.

We parked at the intersection of Gap Creek Rd. and West G St. I believe it was an auto repair business. Whatever it was, it wasn’t open on Sunday. We crossed G St and started our walk heading towards Johnson City. Had to cross G St a 2nd time. Was a little challenging with the traffic coming off of the highway.

Once across we walked under Hwy 321. We then passed a little baseball park called Lions Field. We will park here next time we walk this section so we don’t have to cross G St. You then continue and are eventually on the north side of Milligan Hwy. There are homes and businesses between the trail and Milligan Hwy. You then cross under Hwy 321 again. We eventually crossed Sparks Rd and then Happy Valley Rd. We went a little further until we came to a quarry. They have wooden fencing up on both sides of the trail. It was kind of hard to see all parts of the quarry because of all of the leaves on the trees. Should be a good view though during the fall / winter months. I’m hoping that people don’t get crazy here and climb the fence and fall in. This is where we turned around. If I recall correctly, we probably ended up walking about 3 1/2 miles round trip.

I’m attaching a link to the official trail website. http://www.tweetsietrail.com/

Here are a few photos of what we experienced on this section of the trail. Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

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Lake Junaluska, NC – Lake Junaluska Walking Trail

The walking trail that we went to today is located at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. The trail is a 2.6 mile trail that loops around the lake. Of course nice lake views, and some mountain views. If you want to make it a longer loop walk, you can walk out to the highway and take that walkway. We wouldn’t have minded doing a 3.7 mile walk instead, but who wants to walk on the highway with cars whizzing by.

When we first arrived, we stopped at the Bethea Welcome Center. This place is beautifully landscaped. When we went into the welcome center, there wasn’t alot to it. After we visited the center, we ended up having our picnic at a table out back.

We then went to find a place to park. We ended up parking near the pool. When you leave the pool area going counter clockwise, you soon cross the Turbeville Footbridge. Once  you cross the bridge and bear to your left, of course you have the lake on your left, and the residential homes on your right. Some really cool houses. All seem to be custom made. And, probably very many years ago. When you come around the other end of the lake, there is a one lane wooden bridge above a dam that you cross. I tried to get some photos of the water going over the dam, but it was very hard to do so. There weren’t any worth posting. After you cross the bridge, you turn left onto Francis Asbury Trail. After a little ways, the trail turns left and you walk past Memorial Chapel. This is a really pretty stone chapel. Not far after that, you take the Rose Walk. Rose bushes all along the walkway. Not long after that, we arrived at the pool and back at our cars.

I’ve attached a walking guide. It has a map, and includes information about buildings and scenery around the lake. http://www.lakejunaluska.com/i/downloads/Walking_Trail_Guide__85_x_11.pdf

Here are a few photos from today. Run your cursor over each for a brief description.

Address for GPS: 91 North Lakeshore Drive, Lake Junaluska, NC. And, a little tip. Your GPS is probably going to want you to get off at exit 104, especially if you’re coming from the Asheville direction. Don’t do it. Go on down to exit 103.

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Bristol, TN – Steele Creek Park

Yes, another Steele Creek Park post. My 5th one, I believe. But, we didn’t park at Rooster Front Park today. We parked at the Mill Creek parking area. I started not to take my camera today, but ended up doing so. Glad I did. Had some different types of photos today since we didn’t park at our normal parking area.

From the Mill Creek Parking area, when we arrived at the bridge that you would take to the left that would take you towards Rooster Front, we saw that the trail continued around to the right, so we headed that way. You take a walk along the creek. There are a couple of bridges that will take you into the park. We saw some kids that were picnicking with their family that were enjoying time in the creek. Man, I can remember when I was that young, enjoying doing that at Underwood Park. Through this section, there are plenty of picnic tables on both sides of the creek. Was a nice / different walk to take at the park.

When we arrived at a bridge that takes you across into the park, we turned around and headed back. We then turned right onto the bridge that takes you towards Rooster Front. We didn’t walk all the way to Rooster Front. When we started around the cove, as you get to where you kind of do a u-turn that will take you on the other side, out of the cove, we turned around and headed back to the car. Had some cooking to do before having family up for 4th of July dinner.

Today we ran across waterfowl, turtles, fish, got a few pictures of wildflowers. Photographed people enjoying the little train. And, people enjoying the paddle boats.

Here are a few photos from our walk today, and from our little get together at the house this evening. Couple of baby photos, and couple of corn hole photos.

Directions to Steele Creek Mill Creek Parking: You can use the Steele Creek Park address of 4 Little Ln, Bristol, TN for your GPS. If you’re coming off of Hwy 126 onto Broad St., pass the entrance to the park. You will pretty quickly afterwards see the parking area on your right.

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