Damascus, VA – Virginia Creeper Trail (Straight Branch Parking Area)

Yes, I’m still posting snow photos. I think I’m just about through our period of snow.

Here are a couple of other walks that we have taken from the Straight Branch parking area. https://rangerannette.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/damascus-va-virginia-creeper-trail-straight-branch-parking-area-2/ and https://rangerannette.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/damascus-va-virginia-creeper-trail-straight-branch-parking-area/

We normally do a couple of miles in, and then turn around and head back to the car. Today we only did a mile in. We walked towards Damascus. With the snow on the ground, it was a little harder to walk today, so we just went about a mile in, and turned around right past trestle 21.

The snow was just about all melted at home, so headed north to see if we could get a little walking in, in the snow. We weren’t disappointed. With the snow just about all melted at the house, didn’t think that there would still be this must snow outside of Damascus. It was a fun walk, but a little hard to trample through the snow.

Being familiar with this walk, I knew that right before getting to trestle 21 that there was a path that took off to the left where you could walk along the river. Even in the snow, the path wasn’t too hard to maneuver. It brings you around the bend, and then you walk up a small hill to get back on the creeper trail. We crossed trestle 21 and just walked about 50 feet or so, and this is where there are some really cool rapids. Got some photos of those and then headed back to the truck.

Here are a few photos from today. Captured a deer down the hill from the house before we headed out, so included that one additional photo.

Directions to Straight Branch from Damascus: Follow US 58E out of Damascus. Shortly after you leave Damascus, 58 cuts off to the left. Follow 58 for approximately 4 to 5 miles.

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Trailhead at Straight Branch

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Looking back at the parking area, the trail isn’t popular at all today

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Shot along the river

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Me on one of the straight stretches

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I know it’s hard to tell here, but this is where the trail curves to the right, and there is a trail going off to the left where you can go down and enjoy the river

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At one of the small cascades. The water is so clear before it cascades.

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Come around the bend and you are below trestle 21

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Trestle 21

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Looking up-river from trestle 21. You can see the icicles in the background.

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Looking down-river from trestle 21

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Right past trestle 21 is my favorite part of this walk. Love the cool rapids.

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Another portion of the rapids

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And another

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With all the trees, it’s hard to get a good shot on the entire little rapid system

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Steve inching down the hill to get some shots down at the river

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Heading back to the car and back into the national forest. A portion of this part of the trail is on private property.

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Almost back to the truck. One more river shot.

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One of the deer that just came around the bend below the house

Asheville, NC – North Carolina Arboretum

For other posts, search internet by “ranger annette asheville nc north carolina arboretum”.

After a little over a week of being snowed in, we finally got out of the house today to enjoy the outdoors. We hadn’t been to the arboretum for our monthly visit, so since today was the last day of the month of January, we decided to drive over. The hike prior to walking through the gardens that I had planned did not occur. When we arrived at the gate, I asked how the trails were. The guy at the gate said that they were still slick / pretty treacherous. So, we decided to still do one trail, but a very short one.

Our first parking area was going to the greenhouse to park. We then walked back across the road and walked down Wolf Branch Road. It’s only 3/10 of a mile down to Bent Creek Road. When there is no snow on the ground, this is an easy trail. With snow on the ground, it was a little challenging. We made it to the bottom, saw all of the snow still on Brent Creek Road, and decided to just head to the gardens.

We then parked at the gardens. We walked through the exhibit center and heard the sound of wolves and coyotes howling. They’ve had a “Survivor” exhibit going on which shows you about the lives of wolves, falcons, etc. That exhibit continues through May 8th.

We then checked out what they had in the greenhouse, and then went out and walked around the gardens.

Here are a few photos from today. We were also out front taking photos of Orka before we left, so included one of her.

Address for GPS: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC

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Walking down Wolf Branch Road. Even though it’s gradual downhill, it’s still a little challenging.

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Arriving at Bent Creek Road

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A little piece of the wolf exhibit

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A bloom in the little greenhouse off of the exhibit center

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Something interesting / green in the greenhouse

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A little bit of snow remaining in the woods right below the gardens

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Captured this deer down below the gardens as we were walking around. Wasn’t scared of us at all.

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And lastly, little Orka peeking up onto the porch before we left for the arborteum

At Home – First 2016 Snowfall

I know. I’m posting this when I should be posting photos of everything that is turning green / the wildflowers that we are taking photos of in the Spring. It seems like every year that I’ve had this site, I seem to fall another month behind on posting. At this point, I’m about 3 months behind on my posts.

This post shows our first snowfall of 2016. It started on 1/20/16 and was just about all melted on 1/29/16. I never left the house during this time. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home if I’d like. Steve had to go to work, so he just took the 4WD each day so he could get back up the hill. When it snows, you are either coming up in a 4WD or you are walking home from the main road.

Not alot to say, but I’m posting just a few photos from each day. Due to the acreage that we live on, and maintaining some walking trails, we got out pretty much every day, no matter how cold it was, and took some snow shots.

So, here are some of those shots. Also, the day before the snow started, the twins were up, so included a photo of them.

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Day 1 – Off of our front porch. Hasn’t been snowing too long.

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Day 1 – Off of our back deck. Snow is becoming pretty heavy.

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Day 2 – What it looked like when we got up this morning

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Day 2 – Went out for a walk. Some deer tracks going into the woods.

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Day 2 – One of the hills heading out to the road. My son has already been out in his jeep.

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Day 2 – Me coming down the big hill on our driveway

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Day 2 – Heading back up the big hill of our driveway

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Day 2 – Time to get back in the house and get warm

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Day 3 – We had a little more snow last night. The clouds are finally trying to break.

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Day 3 – Out taking a walk. The snow is pretty hanging on the bushes / trees

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Day 3 – Leaving the house and hitting one of our paths through the woods

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Day 3 – Traveling one of the paths on our property

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Day 3 – Heading towards the barn

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Day 3 – This pretty white cat lives in our barn and walks over to my son’s place to eat. Cat won’t come close to any of us. Just roams our property.

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Day 3 – Getting ready to hit some more trails on our property

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Day 4 – Are the clouds finally going to break?

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Day 4 – Yes, the clouds have finally broken. Still cold. Icicles hanging from the roof.

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Day 5 – Can’t believe this deer stood still long enough for me to take it’s photo from my front porch

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Day 5 – Out taking a walk. 4 wheeler tracks helped our walk.

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Day 5 – Zoomed in on my cousin’s cow pasture across the road from our place

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Day 6 – Captured another deer before it took off

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Day 7 – Snow is starting to melt. Ice hanging on the trees first thing in the morning.

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Day 7 – Sun behind the fog

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Day 9 – Snow has melted some more. The middle of mountain is cloudy, but some cool rays shooting down on each side.

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Eli and Sawyer were over the day before all the snow

Kingsport, TN – Kingsport Greenbelt (East Stone Commons to Boys and Girls Club)

Today we needed to do a walk kind of close to home, and do something that wasn’t going to take too long. We ended up doing an easy 1.6 mile round trip walk on the Greenbelt.

We had recently had alot of rain, so the walk was kind of muddy. The creek must have been way over it’s banks because alot of the paved trail had a thin layer of mud on it today. Could even tell that some water had made it into the woods in places on the other side of the trail.

We started out by enjoying the ducks at the East Stone Commons parking area. I think they hang around there because we frequently see people feeding the ducks in this area. Heading south, the trail takes you under Eastman Road. On this section of the trail, you’re just basically walking the trail between the creek and some businesses. When we arrived at a mini storage business (back behind Boys and Girls Club), we turned around and headed back to the car. Not the most exciting section of the trail, but it’s always good to get out and walk.

Here are a few photos from today. Steve was taking some photos this week of Orka, so included one of her.

Address for East Stone Commons Parking: 2003 N Eastman Rd, Kingsport, TN. Drive around on the other side of PetSmart and you will see where people are parked.

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Some crazy looking duck. From what I ready, may be a Muscovy Duck.

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A white duck drifting in the creek

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Taking off south behind the small strip at the side of East Stone Commons. View at mile marker 2.2.

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There are lots of bird houses that have been placed along the greenbelt

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View from mile marker 2.4

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Probably some nice blooms in the Spring / Summer on this landscaped area on the trail

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View at mile marker 2.6

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Just a view of the trail

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View at mile marker 2.8

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This is where we turned around (and we’ll park right outside of this storage business to walk our next leg of the trail). This is back behind the Boys and Girls Club.

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Walking along the creek on our way back

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And lastly, Orka is watching what is going on outside

Greeneville, TN – Creation Health Nature Trail

Headed to Greeneville today to check out this short trail. I had been reading on and off about it for a couple of years so it was time to check it out.

For our walk today, we parked at Veterans Memorial Park, which was previously named Forest Park (address below). There is a memorial at this park that honors Greene County war veterans. This little park also has a picnic pavilion and a short walking trail. This is a 1.1 mile overall moderate trail. Walkers and runners are allowed on the trails, but no bikes are allowed. Due to the trail being moderate with a few steep hills, there are several benches along the trail. Also, watch for the bird houses that were placed along the trail if you like that type of thing.

To take off on this wooded trail, we walked around the left hand side of the picnic pavilion, where the trailhead starts off up the hill. To climb the ridge, you take a few switchbacks. Along the trail, without the leaves on the trees, there were a few halfway decent views. One of the views is overlooking the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. The views aren’t spectacular. I bet in the summer there aren’t really any views at all. But, still a good walk / workout.

A big feature of the trail are eight stations that tie into the Creation Health program, which advocates small changes in eight areas spelling the word “CREATION”. They are Choice, Rest, Environment, Activity, Trust, Interpersonal Relationships, Outlook, and Nutrition. I’ve included 7 of the 8 in my photos.

There are a couple of other entrances to this trail. One is on the campus of Takoma Regional Hospital at Takoma Avenue next to the Everett and Carolyn Coolidge Volunteer Conference Center. The other is across from Hal Henard Elementary School on East Vann Road.

Here are some photos from today.

Address for GPS: 805 Forest Street, Greeneville, TN

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Parking at Veterans Memorial Park

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Walk around the left hand side of the picnic pavilion below to hit the trail

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Trailhead with trail rules and nice trail map

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Up close view of the trail map

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Trekking up the switchbacks

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Our first inspirational sign “Choice”

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“Rest”

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“Environment”

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One of the several birdhouses on the trail

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“Activity”

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A slight hillside view from the trail

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Eventually take this cutoff to the left for Andrew Johnson Overlook

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The bench at Andrew Johnson Overlook up ahead

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Not the greatest view from that bench through the trees, but a partial view of Andrew Johnson National Cemetery

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“Trust”

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Heading downhill on the other side of the ridge

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“Interpersonal Relationships”

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Getting ready to head up the ridge, back towards the car

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Taking the switchbacks, back up the ridge

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“Nutrition”

Valle Crucis, NC – Crab Orchard Falls

This was our 2nd visit to this waterfall since I started this site. Here is my post of Crab Orchard Falls from February 2013. https://rangerannette.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/valle-crucis-nc-crab-orchard-falls/

Crab Orchard Falls is located at the Valle Crucis Conference Center. When you take a left into the conference center area, a sign showing “Waterfall Parking” will direct you to the left. Park along the wall on the left.

To get to the falls, continue walking on the gravel drive. Signs will very well direct you in the right direction. You will come to the Bishop Robert H Johnson Hall on the left. Loop around the hall, and you will soon see the cabled trailhead for the falls. It’s 1/2 mile to the falls. The first 3/10 of a mile or so is considered moderate to strenuous.

Continue on and it’s a moderate climb for a bit. You will then come to a point where you walk up a big / wide strenuous hill. After you make it up this hill, it’s a pretty easy walk until you come to the descent for the falls. You will see signs that direct you to the right and then curving to the left down a narrower trail that goes downhill. As you arrive at the falls area, there is a boardwalk that takes you down to the falls. Due to the fact that the boardwalk can be slick, metal screening has been put down on the boardwalk to help prevent slippage. There is also a sign asking you to not lean on the railing. The railing isn’t the sturdiest.

When you arrive at the waterfall area, you never are able to see the entire falls. I’ve never rock climbed up beside of the waterfall. I’ve actually never seen anyone else do it either the couple of times that we’ve been there. Now people do scramble downwards, beside of the falls. Footing can be tricky, so be careful on the downwards scramble.

Here are a few photos from today. Plus, a few of the twins that we took when they were at the house this past week.

Address for GPS: 146 Skiles Way, Banner Elk, NC (the falls are in Valle Crucis, but has a Banner Elk address)

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Make sure you park where you are directed to park

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When first head out, but before getting to the trail, you have a nice view of some farmland with cows. I know, you can barely tell that there are a bunch of cows in this photo.

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Steve trekking up the trail

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A small bench up ahead if you need to stop after walking up the one steep hill

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A warning sign as you start down the trail to the falls

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No, didn’t post this photo by accident. Showing how cold it was today. A little bit of ice on the trail.

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This is about the best view that you can get of a good portion of the upper falls. You see this view before arriving at the falls.

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Getting ready to hit the boardwalk. Heed the warning signs. Those railings aren’t real sturdy.

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This is a view of a little piece of the falls as you step up onto the boardwalk

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A nice view of a little piece of the waterfall

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And one more

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I’ve walked out onto a big boulder down from the last photo. Looking down towards the bottom of the waterfall.

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And then turning around and taking a photo from the boulder, in the other direction

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I’m heading down from the boulder

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We have just arrived back at the top of the hill from the falls. We’re going to take the trail to the left. I’d love to know where that trail to the right takes you.

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Eli and Sawyer playing in their blow-up ball house

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Eli also likes to try to eat the balls

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Sawyer and Orka hanging out

Damascus, VA – Virginia Creeper Trail (Green Cove Station)

The address is “Damascus”, but Green Cove Station is located about 15 miles outside of the town of Damascus.

My last post from Green Cove Station, we took off on our walk heading in the direction of Damascus. https://rangerannette.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/damascus-va-virginia-creeper-trail-green-cove-station-parking/ . Today we headed in the other, which takes you towards Whitetop.

We walked a couple of miles in, and then turned around. We didn’t do the entire 7 miles round trip like we’ve done in the past. It was a little late in the day when we got started.

This isn’t one of the most exciting parts of the trail if you are walking. I mean, it’s a little different. I do have to say though that you have a couple of nice mountain views. It was cold today, so you could see the rime ice on the mountain tops. On this section, you also pass a couple of Christmas tree farms. After about a mile or so in, if you watch on your right, you can see a little trail that takes you into the back side of the Christmas tree farm. Not sure if you’re supposed to go in there or not, but we usually do. It’s a nice view. After taking some shots at the Christmas tree farm, we continued on. Pretty much just woods on both sides of you. We turned around about 2 miles in where you see a trail that goes up to the left, and shows that ATV’s should not be on that trail. I’m very curious where that trail goes. Maybe one of these days we’ll check it out.

Here are just a few photos from today.

Address for GPS: 41259 Green Cove Road, Damascus, VA

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With the cold and the wind today, not surprised that there were no other cars at Green Cove Station

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Shortly after you leave Green Cove Station heading towards Whitetop, you come to a gravel road. You have to turn right on the gravel road. You’ll reconnect with the Creeper Trail ahead on the left. You can also see the Christmas tree farm on the hill in the background.

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To check out the back side of the Christmas tree farm, watch for this trail off to the right, maybe a mile in.

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Steve with a nice view in the background

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Me at one of the old mileage posts, trying to stay warm

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This is where we turned around, where the “No ATV’s” trail shoots off to the left. I wonder where this trail goes.

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Almost back to the car. Mountain in the background with rime ice on top.

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Now, this photo isn’t from the trail. This past week, I heard a racket outside, and there were a bunch of birds in the top of one of our trees.

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