Monday, January 30, 2012

DuPont State Forest Hike
Lake Dense, Joanna Mountain, Grassy Creek Falls
Transylvania County, NC
Saturday, January 28th, 2012

After our morning CMLC (Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) hike, there was still plenty of time left in the day for another hike.

Andy, Brenda, and I decided to head on over to DuPont State Forest.  Our main goal for the afternoon was to hike to the summit of Joanna Mountain since Andy and Brenda have not been there before.  I've hiked there on several past occasions, but I had no problem making a return trip since it is one of my favorite spots in DuPont State Forest.

We started at the Buck Forest parking area, hiked across the covered bridge at the top of High Falls, and then took the Pitch Pine Trail over to Lake Dense where we took a nice break to enjoy lunch in the sun.

Andy and Brenda taking a break at Lake Dense

Picnic area at Lake Dense

From Lake Dense you get a nice view of Joanna Mountain where we would be hiking to later in the day.  While not the highest mountain peak in the land, the rocky west face of Joanna is fairly impressive.

view of Joanna Mountain rising over Lake Dense

After our lunch break, we hiked the Lake Dense trail to check out Lake Alford, which I would consider more of a pond than an actual lake.  Lake Alford is in a nice secluded spot that doesn't get a whole lot of traffic and is another one of my favorite spots in the Forest.

Lake Alford

From there, we backtracked past Lake Dense and hooked up with Joanna Mountain Road, which rises gradually up Joanna's backside!  The road takes you most of the way up and then the Joanna Mountain Trail takes you to within 100 feet of the summit.

From the end of the trail its a steep scramble up a rock slide.  I don't remember this being too difficult from my previous hikes, but after all the rain we've had lately there was significant seepage down the rocks making it as slick as goose snot!

Andy and Brenda coming down the steep section.
Photo is out of order, but I didn't get any good shots of them coming up,
so you will just have to settle for this one of them coming down!

After the steep rocky section, it is a short and easy bushwhack to the summit.  There are no actual views from the summit, but some more easy bushwhacking down the west side takes you to the exposed rocky areas we saw earlier from Lake Dense.

View to the North from Joanna Mountain

While the bushwhacking is easy, there are a bunch of Briers to contend with.  And since I unzipped my pant legs earlier, I ended up with the standard bloody calves and shins that tend to result from bushwhacking through briers in shorts.

We took another break on the Rocky Face of Joanna to soak in the views and the beautiful sunshine!

Andy and Brenda taking a break on Joanna Mountain

Another enjoyable thing about this spot was that we were able to view several of places we had hiked to earlier in the day.  Rich Mountain (our earlier morning hike) could be seen directly to the West while Lake Dense was very obvious down below.

View  to the West from Joanna Mountain
Rich Mountain is the peak on the left side (with the radio tower)
Lake Dense is in the Foreground

After our break, we returned down Joanna Mountain using the butt slide method on several occasions and decided we had time for one more sight.  Grassy Creek Falls!

To be honest, I wasn't all that excited about Grassy Creek Falls.  I visited it one time in the past and was less than impressed.  But since the water level was up, it might be worth checking out.  Therefore it didn't take much for Andy to convince me.  And I am glad he did!

Grassy Creek Falls

While nowhere near as impressive as the some of the other waterfalls in the forest, this one we had to ourselves and the higher water level made it much nicer than I remember.  I've upped my rating from a 2 to a 4 (out of 10). 

Andy photographing Grassy Creek Falls

We thought briefly about visiting High Falls on the way out.  And while High Falls is one of the more impressive waterfalls in the area, I have been there more times than I can count on one hand and didn't feel the need to go back today.  Brenda was also ready to head on home, so we called it quits for the day  and hiked back to our vehicles.

Here is our hike route for the afternoon which totaled about 8 miles according to Brenda's GPS.  Making for a total of 11 miles on the day (including the earlier morning hike).

Hike Route

It was another great day to be outdoors!  I wonder if we are going to get winter this year?

The complete set of photos from our DuPont Forest hike is posted here:

1 comment:

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