Pisgah National Forest, NC
Saturday, June 13th, 2009
Photos are posted here:
Since Andy only had until around noon to get a hike in we decided to get an early start and meet at the Pisgah Fish Hatchery at 7:45am. In an unusual turn of events, Andy actually arrived early, while I showed up right on time (usually it is the opposite). We made the short drive to the Daniel Ridge Trailhead and hit the trail right at 8:00am
On tap for the morning would be a new waterfall for both of us. The Waterfall on Right Fork (page 235 of Kevin Adam’s, North Carolina Waterfalls Book). Neither Andy nor I had wanted to attempt this one solo, since it requires some tough off trail bushwhacking.
We started out on the Daniel Ridge Trail, which I had hiked several years ago. However, this time, we veered off the main trail and took an unofficial trail that follows closer to the Davidson River. This side trail was actually in pretty good shape and we were rewarded with a waterfall that I missed on my last hike here.
There are several other cascades and small waterfalls along the way. We turned off the Daniel Ridge Trail and took the Farlow Gap Trail. From there we followed Kevin Adam’s directions, which were pretty good. Once leaving the main trail, the going gets much more difficult. There is a faint path the follow most of the way, but it becomes nonexistent at times.
We knew that if we just continued upstream we would eventually get to the waterfall. However, the bushwhack seemed longer than I was expecting! We didn’t notice any poison ivy, but the area was full of Stinging Nettles, which were rubbing against our legs the whole time. Fortunately, the sting is only temporary and they don’t leave a long lasting rash.
The waterfall at the end was worth it, but now we had to deal with the gnats! I have never seen this many annoying gnats in one place! They made photographing the falls very difficult. Most of my photos were ruined by little gnat blurs. I had loaded up with DEET, but that has little effect at repelling gnats. The good news is that they don’t bite; they are just a huge nuisance!
The return bushwhack seemed much shorter and we arrived back at the main trail at around 11:00am. I was in the mood for a longer hike and a good workout, so while Andy returned to the trailhead so he could meet his wife in Asheville, I continued on the Farlow Gap Trail. I made sure to let Andy know my planned route before we parted ways.
Shuck Ridge Creek Falls has been on my to do list for many years, but for some reason I had not gotten to it until today! It exceeded my expectations!
The Farlow Gap Trail is rated “Most Difficult”, but up to this point it seemed rather easy. However, the next section of trail from Shuck Ridge Creek Falls to Farlow Gap gains about 1,000-feet of elevation in less than a mile. And there were no switchbacks to ease the pain.
From Farlow Gap, I turned towards the South on the Art Loeb Trail, up and over Sassafras Knob and down towards Deep Gap. While there are no views along this section of trail, there was a nice display of Flame Azalea and Mountain Laurel.
From Deep Gap, the trail climbs steeply up Pilot Mountain. Fortunately, there are switchbacks almost the whole way up making the climb a bit easier than it could have been. At a little over 5000-ft, there are some excellent views at the summit of Pilot Mountain.
I took a little break here, actually got several bars on my cell phone, so I called my wife Amy to let her know my estimated time that I would finish up.
The remainder of the hike went much quicker as it was almost entirely downhill. I passed through probably the most spectacular display of Mountain Laurel I have ever seen!
The last couple of miles was an easy stroll along FR475. When I passed over Laurel Fork, I thought briefly about the waterfalls upstream, which I have yet to visit, but thought it would be best to save them for another day.
It was a great day to be outside!
Photos are posted here: