Monday, April 30, 2012

Johnson Branch Farm hike

Johnson Branch Farm
CMLC Hike
Transylvania County, NC
Saturday, April 28th, 2012

I am generally not a big fan of large group hikes, but when I saw the following hike posted in the monthly CMLC newsletter, I immediately signed up.  Anytime I am offered the chance to check out some waterfalls not accessible to the public, I am not about to let that opportunity pass me by.

Johnson Branch Farm
Join CMLC for a special public hike to the Johnson Branch property on Saturday, April 28th. Permanently protected in December 2009, Johnson Branch has over 8,600 feet of streams and is an integral part of the French Broad watershed. On our hike, we will follow Morgan and Betty Jones' preexisting trail system along these tributaries to see cascading waterfalls and sprouting wildflowers. Further highlights include an awe-inspiring vista and a newly constructed trail that eases the severity of our route. Hike leader Betty Jones has catalogued hundreds of species on her land and will make for an excellent guide. This is a strenuous 2.5-mile loop trail with an elevation change of 700 ft. Hikers must be in good physical condition. Proper hiking gear and poles are highly recommended. Join us for a special hiking opportunity otherwise inaccessible to the public!

Another thing that got me excited about this hike was when I found out this parcel of land is located on the same mountainside as Maidenhair Falls, one of my all time favorite waterfalls.  Even though Johnson Branch is a much lower volume stream, I figured there should still be some pretty good drops.

As usual, I arrived a little bit early and met up with Morgan and Betty Jones, the owners of the property.  While waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I took some time to photograph some of the old farm buildings around the property.




Betty's son David, who built the trail over past five years led the hike up the well constructed trail.  We soon past by the remains of an old Ford which I just had to stop and photograph.


 For about the next mile, the trail followed alongside Johnson Branch passing by a series of nice cascades and waterfalls.




There was also an impressive display of wildflowers including some nice Trillium and Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

 Trillium

 Jack-in-the-Pulpit

The trail also crosses over several smaller tributaries which all have some pretty good drops.




Overall, the trail gained about 700 feet of elevation.  Near the top we stopped to check out a very impressive cave!

From there we started our descent and soon arrived at a rock outcrop which offered a spectacular view!

Awesome View (click photo for full size)

Betty, the owner of the property

The trail is about a 2.5 mile loop, so the descent took us through new territory where the impressive wildflower display continued including trillium and mayapple.

 Trillium

 Mayapple

The loop ended at an open field near Morgan and Betty's home.


This was an excellent hike through a beautiful piece of property.  I really appreciated the opportunity to check it out and would love a chance to make a return visit!

The Complete set of photos is posted here:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/582720596vmETAv

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