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
Rail Wheels photo P1010432_zps78703199.jpg
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 and Foot Bridge photo P1010433_zps2d3537b4.jpg

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.
Paint Creek photo P1010435_zps519115f6.jpg
That is, until I crossed the creek on another foot bridge.
On Bridge photo P1010438_zps2a1ad173.jpg
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 and wading through the 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 photo P1010437_zpsbb540d57.jpg
Flowers photo P1010434_zpsd80ce10b.jpg
and even a box turtle.
Box Turtle photo P1010442_zpsa4d65adb.jpg
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.
Exit Point photo P1010444_zps3391424e.jpg
"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.

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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