Kingsport, TN – Warriors Path State Park, Sinking Waters Trail

It’s been several years since we’ve hiked this trail, so headed over there today for our Sunday hike. If you went looking for this trail, you would probably be looking for it over in the park near where the picnic area, lake, Duck Island, etc. is located. Nope! This trail is definitely off the beaten path. It’s actually located off of a road on the other side of the golf course. See below for directions / map. Also, on the trails, there are some great informative signs about the area.

There are 3 loops on this trail. We started out by taking the trail straight (and bypassing the turn-offs to the right to the first two loops), all the way to the end where you have the Wetland Loop (.35 mile loop). It’s a pretty easy walk to the wetlands. They’ve done a good job making sure that you don’t get your feet wet on your way to the wetlands by putting in bridges, etc. Most of the wetland loop is spent on bridges. There is a little observation deck off to the side of the boardwalk. This is where the creeks actually flows into the cave system. It’s nice back in this area.

If you want a pretty easy walk, it’s time to head back to the car.

As we were on our way back towards the car, the first loop that we took off onto, on the left was Meadow Loop (.65 mile loop). This trail is pretty challenging. You are on the side of a ridge on this loop. I remember years ago that you could actually see some meadow. Over the years, the trees, etc. have grown up and there wasn’t much meadow today.

After finishing Meadow Loop and hitting the main trail back towards the car, you then take off on the left and you’ve got Forest Loop (.75 mile loop). Now, this trail was a workout. It doesn’t start off too bad, but you eventually come to a very steep set of stairs. Be careful and don’t lose your balance going up these stairs. After making it up the stairs, you then have to tackle the switchbacks, etc. to make it to the top of the ridge. After that workout, I was hoping for some better views up on the ridge. It was hard to get photos of the mountains in the background through all of the trees. When you head back down the ridge, it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be going down (because of how strenuous it was coming up).

Here are a few photos from today.

Directions: To reach the trail, head north out of the main park on Fall Creek Road. After you pass through the golf course area, turn left on Cedar Branch Road. Go through the little neighborhood, and then start looking for the gravel parking area on your left. This map should help you out a little.

Click to access warriors-path_hiking-trails-map.pdf



As you are heading to Wetland Loop, seems to be a vineyard on your left



One of the several informative signs on the trail



Arriving at the wetlands



The boardwalk and some water flow off to the right as you arrive at the wetlands



Here is where the creek runs into the cave system



A portion of the wetlands



Steve right outside of the wetlands area. He is facing a sign at another entrance. Not sure how to get to this entrance.



An easy section of the Meadows Loop



The very steep set of stairs near the beginning of Forest Loop



We’re heading way up there


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Great time for a phone call. Got to rest a little.


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This was our best photo of a mountain view in the background



Johnson County, TN – Laurel Creek Trail

Last week, I posted about our walk on the Virginia Creeper Trail starting in Taylor’s Valley. The last 2 times that we’ve been to Taylor’s Valley, as we were driving up Hwy 91 towards the Taylors Valley turnoff, we were noticing a trail across the river. When we were headed to Taylor’s Valley last week, I was so interested in that trail across the river, that I missed my turnoff for Taylors Valley. I began to notice that the roadway and landscape didn’t look familiar so was looking for a place to turn around. MUCH to my surprise, we came to “Laurel Creek Trail” trailhead.

I do alot of research on trails on the internet and have never run across any mention of this trail. I was really excited to get home after our creeper trail walk and do some research. I couldn’t find much at all on the internet about it other than a few newspaper articles. It ends up that this trail has only been open since August or September of 2014. It will eventually link with the Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus, and in the other direction, will link with Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City.

The parking area isn’t all that big. There aren’t very many parking places. But, over by the pit toilet area, it looks like several vehicles can do some parallel parking.

I had read that the completed part of this trail is 3 miles long / 6 miles round trip. I have read that it’s 4 miles long / 8 miles round trip. When we crossed the bridge and hit the trail on the other side of the river, when we hit the Virginia state line, the trail ended. We had only walked a little over a mile. When we got back to the parking area, I noticed that the trail continues on into Tennessee on the other side of the river. We’ll go back soon and walk that section of the trail.

So, the section of the trail from the bridge to the Virginia state line is beautiful. It was a pretty easy walk. The entire trip you have Hwy 91 on the other side of the river. There are 3 spots where there are hills, but they aren’t bad. The last hill, takes you pretty high up above the river. Also on this section of the trail, most of the time you are right beside of the river. There are also a few spots where you can walk down to the river and get shots. But, that’s closer to the beginning of the trail. There are lots of rapids. But, alot of the rapids are a little challenging to get good photos of.

Here are some photos from today. Included at the end of the photos are a couple of photos of the twins from this past week, and a sunset photo that Steve from our back deck.

Directions: From Damascus, head south on 58 / 91. When you get to where these 2 roads split, continue straight on Hwy 91. Once you cross over into Tennessee, watch for the sign for Laurel Creek Trailhead on your right. It’s not far.


The parking area



The bridge that you cross to head towards the Virginia state line



Down on the river looking back towards the bridge



Rapids on the river (and the parking lot in the background)



I’ve been down on the river taking photos. I see a couple of cars traveling on Hwy 91 in the background.



One of the sections that goes uphill. I think this is the only section that isn’t right beside of the river. Only about 1/10 of a mile isn’t right beside of the river.



These were some really cool rapids, but very hard to photograph



Water coming out of the mountainside. If you look to the left of the more obvious tiny waterfall, you’ll see that it looks like there was a man made well looking thing that the water is popping over,. It was made of stone.



Steve at the Virginia state line



This is the part of the trail that takes you high above the river. Be careful here.



When we arrived back at the trailhead, saw that the trail continues towards Laurel Bloomery



Sawyer posing for Nana



Eli getting ready to play with his toy



Beautiful sky from our back deck




Bristol, TN – Rooster Front to Steele Creek with the Twins

You know by now that this is where we go take alot of our walks. It’s a nice / easy / relaxing 4 mile round trip walk. This is probably my 10th or 11th post from this park. But, I do try my best to show something different each time I complete posts. Well, if we go by the waterfall, I will definitely be posting a photo or two each time.

My son called and said he’d like to take the boys on a walk after we got off work since it was such as nice day. So, we parked at Rooster Front and headed over to Steele Creek area. We were getting close to walking the entire 2 miles when it felt like it was starting to cool off. Didn’t want to get stuck out in cold weather after the sun went down behind the hills, so we turned around and headed back.

Based on where the sun was, we were able to take some interesting photos of reflections in the water. Only included one of those photos. We got quite a few turtle photos up in the cove. They were out enjoying the beautiful weather. There were also people out fishing here and there, and people out on the lake on kayaks.

Here are a few photos from today.

Address for GPS (Rooster Front Parking): 1160 Vance Drive, Bristol, TN


Nice water flow due to recent rain



I know this seems kind of weird. Not the most beautiful photo, but kind of neat. Little tree branch floating in the water.



A few turtles soaking up some sun


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Close-up on one of the turtles


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Tree branches and their reflections in the water


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Zooming in on the dam with a piece of Holston Mountain in the background. You can barely see a couple of the kayakers.


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“Pops” pushing the sleeping twins




Taylors Valley, VA – Virginia Creeper Trail

Our next section of the creeper trail was to park in Taylors Valley, and head towards the next parking area of Creek Junction. I found a site that stated that the distance between Taylors Valley and Creek Junction was approximately 4 miles and I found a site that said 3 miles. Who knows? So, we headed out of Taylors Valley and walked in 2 miles and back for 4 miles round trip.

People that park in Taylors Valley for creeper trail use, park behind the community center. When you come into Taylors Valley, keep going until you cross the bridge over the river / creeper trail. You will see the community center on your left. Just drive over and park behind it.

This is a unique section of the trail. Some of your time is not spent right beside of the river, but walking through an absolutely beautiful valley. On the walk through the valley you come across this tiny stand that is probably open during the warmer months where you can purchase snacks and refreshments. After a little ways through the valley, you do eventually come back to where you are beside of the river. Still today our area was overcoming bitter cold temperatures and snow. It was a pleasant day today, in the 50’s. But, because of how cold it’s been, we still ran into a little ice and snow. As for trestles. The trestles that we crossed today were 27 through 29. 28 has got to be the shortest trestle on the trail.

Here are a few photos from today.

Address for GPS: 37077 Chestnut Mountain Road, Damascus, VA. This is the address for the Creeper Trail Cafe. Couldn’t find an address for the community center. But, when you get to the cafe, keep going straight and cross the bridge. Community center is on your left.


We’re parked behind the community center in Taylors Valley. Nice peak in the background.



Some rapids on the river beside of the community center



Right before trestle 27, there is a path down to the river. Look at all of the ice still hanging on.



Beautiful view of the valley



You can purchase refreshments on the trail during the warmer months



Steve on tiny trestle 28. There’s a tiny waterfall coming off of a hill on the right.



And Steve on trestle 29



Down on the river above trestle 29


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One of the sections of the trail that still had a little snow and ice. This is where we turned around.


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One of our old barn shots in the valley


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Almost back to the car, getting ready to cross trestle 27. It’s a little wavy looking.




Hot Springs, NC – Laurel River Trail

This is the 2nd time that we’ve been to this trail since I’ve been posting our walks and hikes. On this post, I’ll only talk a little about today. Here is a little additional information about the trail from my last post during late Fall in 2013.

Today was a pretty nice day. The area was still overcoming the frigid cold weather that we had just gone through. You’ll see in a couple of the photos that there were still icicles hanging around. The trail still had some slick spots that would sneak up on you. Some spots it just looked wet, but nooooo, it was icy and if you weren’t paying attention to the trail (and we weren’t always doing so), you could almost lose your footing.

There are alot of rapids on this river. I included a few shots of those. We didn’t walk to the very end which is 3.5 miles. This was just a stop on our way to Asheville. We stopped at the portion of the trail where we took the photo of the kayaker coming through one of the big rapids.

Here are a few photos from our walk today. And one of the twins from this week.

Address for GPS: This trailhead is in the middle of nowhere, at the intersection of Hwys 208 and 25/70. Click on this link for a map that could help.


Not long after you hit the trail, you can walk down to the river and get this shot



Rounding the first curve getting ready to head into the canyon



Look at all of the icicles still hanging around



Icicles still hanging onto a log in the river






And more rapids


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This is my favorite area on the trail. This is where we turned around so we could head on to Asheville.


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We were getting ready to head back up to the trail and head out when some kayakers came through. This is one of the many shots that we captured.


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Here comes the 2nd group of kayakers. This was a pretty tame section of the river, so no action shots.


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Eli and Sawyer hoping that they can help Nana cook


Banner Elk (Tate Evans Park and Mill Pond) and Blowing Rock (Bass Lake), NC

These are probably the last snow photos of the season.

We headed up into the mountains today to capture some more snow shots. It was warming up quite a bit today, so if we wanted to get some snow shots up in the mountains, we needed to do it today. We made 3 stops on our quest for snow photos.

We first stopped in Banner Elk, NC and walked a little of the Greenway Trail in Tate Evans Park. Aside from the walking trail, it has a playground, picnic tables, and a nice picnic shelter. Near the bridge that goes over the creek, there is a nice spot where there are always children playing in the creek in the warmer months. For today’s walk in the park, after we crossed the bridge over the creek, we headed to the left. This walk takes you along the creek, and through a cute little pine forest. You do cross one street that goes into a little neighborhood. The trail then ends at the next road which is Dogwood Rd. We then turned around and when we arrived back near the bridge, we took the trail to the left and completed a couple of loops in the park. You walk past a barn that has old farm equipment. Also on this section of the trail, there are a few pieces of outdoor exercise equipment that you can jump on. This is where the nice picnic pavilion is. You then circle back around and walk along the creek and head back to the car. If you put the address that I have listed below into Google Maps, you will see the gray outline of the walk that we took today. I think after we were done, we had walked a little over a mile.

Our second stop was at the Mill Pond area. We didn’t really spend any time at the actual pond. When you turn right off the main road onto Hickory Nut Gap Rd, you then immediately take another right. The parking area for the pond is right there. But, if you stay on the road, after about 1/10 of a mile, you come to another parking area. This parking area was our destination. At the little waterfall. You can take photos from right above the falls, you can walk down into the woods and do a little rock hopping, or you can use the nice boardwalk that is built above the river. After a few photos here, was time for our third and final destination.

Third destination. Bass Lake outside of Blowing Rock. It’s part of Moses Cone Memorial Park trail system. We walked the 1 mile loop in the snow today. The lake was pretty much covered in snow and ice. With it being such a beautiful day I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to find parking. But, apparently there weren’t many people that wanted to get out and walk through the snow. Lots of parking was available. Even though it wasn’t extremely warm, I was surprised at the amount of people that we saw in shorts. Even with the snow on the ground, it was still a pretty easy walk since this trail is completely flat. We walked around the lake last June. Here is my post during a warmer month.

Here are some photos from our little outing today. And, as usual, the twins were up this week and had to post one photo of them.

Address for GPS (Tate-Evans Park): 210 Park Avenue, Banner Elk, NC

Address for GPS (Mill Pond): Couldn’t find an address. To get directions, just put “mill pond banner elk nc” into Google Maps.

Address for GPS (Bass Lake): Again, couldn’t find an official address. Just put “bass lake blowing rock nc” into Google Maps.


Tate Evans Park – View up the creek towards the bridge



Tate Evans Park – A little stretch through the pines



Tate Evans Park – Steve got creative with the fence / barn photo



Mill Pond – Frozen over



Mill Pond – The dam



Mill Pond – Down river, taken from the boardwalk


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Bass Lake – This swan doesn’t have much water to tread in


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Bass Lake – Frozen over. You can barely see Moses Cone Manor in the background.


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Bass Lake – Someone built a snowman off on one of the side trails


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Bass Lake – There was more melt in the wetland area on the back side of the lake. This swan just lifted it’s head out of the water and the water is still trickling out of its mouth.



Sawyer and Eli posing for Nana







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