Sunday, January 29, 2012

CMLC Rich Mountain Hike from Camp High Rocks
Adjacent to DuPont State Forest, NC
Saturday, February 28th, 2012

A few weeks ago I saw the following hike posting in the CMLC (Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) newsletter.

CMLC invites you to a public winter hike to the top of Rich Mountain. Starting from Camp High Rocks’ beautiful grounds, near DuPont State Forest, we’ll cross a few horse pastures, then pick up a strenuous trail through open forest. We’ll pause for a breather between two unique and massive rock formations, and then we’ll make a short, but steep climb up the southeast ridge of Rich Mountain to the top. The summit affords virtually 360 degree views, with particularly good views of the Blue Ridge to the west and north—perfect for a lunch break before heading down. CMLC has been granted access by the Camp’s owners, Townsend and Hank Birdsong. This is a special opportunity to walk through the camp en route to the beautiful Cathedral Rock formations and up to the summit of Rich Mountain, where you’ll have breathtaking views of the surroundings. This is a STRENUOUS HIKE on existing trails, with a total elevation ascent of about 700 feet in 3 miles. Be aware, there are several steep sections during the ascent and descent.

I am generally not a fan of large group hikes, but it in this case it was an opportunity to hike someplace that is no open to the general public. 

Andy, one of my regular hiking buddies decided to sign up for the hike as well.  And since the trail is right across the road from Brenda's community, she also decided to join the group.

Andy met me in Spartanburg and rode with me the rest of the way to Camp High Rocks in Cedar Mountain, NC.  We were the first to arrive, so we took a few minutes to check out a small lake at the camp.

The Lake at Camp High Rocks.  Rich Mountain can be seen rising above the lake.

Other hikers started to show up and we ended up with a group of about (20) humans and (2) dogs.  Normally dogs are not allowed on CMLC hikes which is why Boone didn't come along with Andy, but these dogs belonged to the owners of the camp and took it upon themselves to join the group.

The two dogs that decided to join the hike

The hike starts off with a easy stroll through the camp and a few open fields before entering the woods and climbing up the mountain. 

The group hiking across one of the horse pastures

There are a few steep sections but nothing too strenuous.  The highlight of the hike up, is several huge rock formations along the way. 

Not the greatest photo, but it shows some of the huge rock formations we passed along the way to the summit

We originally thought it would be 3 miles to the top, but it is actually only 3 miles round trip making it only a mile and a half to the top of Rich Mountain.  There used to be a fire on top of the mountain, but now all that is left is the foundation.  In its place are several unsightly radio and cell towers.

The old house where I assume that whoever monitored the old fire tower used to live still stands as well as several other run down structures.

The old fire tower keepers house

At the summit of Rich Mountain

The views from the summit are not as impressive as I as hoping for.  The highlight is the distant view of Whiteside Mountain.
view of Whiteside Mountain from the summit of Rich Mountain

This is not a hike that I would really want to do again, but at least whenever we view the summit of Rich Mountain we can say we've been there!  I appreciate the CMLC for giving me the opportunity!

Since we only hiked about 3 miles and it was still was only about noon when we finished up; Andy, Brenda, and I decided to head into DuPont State Forest for  some more hiking!  That will be tomorrow's blog post!

The full set of photos from our first hike of the day is posted here:


Brenda W. said...

Jack, you took some really great photos on this hike. The ones you got of the two dogs are just superb!!

Also, I really liked your photo of the old house. I tried to get one, but was worried the TV antennae nearby would be too obtrusive. You did a great job focusing on the house itself. I would love to hear the house's stories about how the surrounding terrain has changed over the decades!

HemlockMan said...

That's a really neat shot of Whiteside Mountain! I wish I could condemn all of the houses on and around Whiteside Mountain and Highlands NC and declare eminent domain and turn that area along with Panthertown Valley into a new National Park. To HELL with the rich!