Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cherokee National Forest: Paint Creek Trail

Today, despite the light rain and threat of more, I headed over to Paint Creek. This time I would not be walking along the road there, but on the Paint Creek Trail. I parked at Moses Turn near the train wheels
train wheels
and headed over to the campground. I walked through a portion of the campground and hit the trail crossing a deep section of Paint Creek on a footbridge.
Paint Creek Bridge
The hike started off easy enough on a well-defined trail that was relatively free of brush. As I traveled further along the creek though, the trail got to be more and more overgrown. Still, because the trail basically paralleled the creek it wasn't too difficult to follow.
That is, until I crossed the creek on another foot bridge.
Eric on Bridge
 Once I crossed over the trail became impossible to follow. At first I thought about just turning around, but my curiosity got the best of me and I ended up thrashing through the thick brush
rough hike
and wading through the creek.
Paint Creek
I just followed what I thought was the best route upstream. Sometimes I was actually able to find the trace of a definite trail, but mostly my route was just a guess.

Along the way I did see some wildflowers in bloom
red flowers
and even a box turtle.
box turtle
Eventually I came to a clearing. There was an old, abandoned mobile home and I could hear the sound of traffic on a major roadway.
old building
"Where am I?", I wondered. It didn't take long to figure things out. I was just off the Asheville Highway which is not anywhere near where I had intended to go. Yet I was able to follow the remains of a definite built trail at times. I even saw a few blazes: yellow metal diamonds attached to a few trees.
old trail marker

Anyway at this point, rather than bash through brush for a few miles I opted to follow the Asheville Highway back to Paint Creek and my car. It added a 4+ mile road walk to my hike but it was better than my other option.

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