Monday, June 3, 2013

Pisgah National Forest: Pump Gap Loop

I headed over to Hot Springs today to hike a loop I had seen on my map called the Pump Gap Loop. I had a slightly difficult time finding the trailhead as it appeared to be on the left side of US Highway 25-70 as you head into Hot Springs from Greeneville. The only problem was there was no road on the left side. I quickly realized that I had to make the right at that intersection and then head underneath the French Broad River bridge at the side of the river. This led me right to the parking lot.

From the parking lot I followed a slightly overgrown trail uphill.
Lovers Leap
Eric on Trail
There were faint white blazes on some of the trees so I guess this was once the Appalachian Trail before it was rerouted. I soon came to a junction in the trail with a downed sign. The trail that switchbacked to the right led to Lover's Leap while my trail led straight ahead. I descended to a group campground and then followed a creek along an interesting section of old road. There were some creepy looking explosives sheds
Dangerous
Explosives Shed
and old Pisgah National Forest signs moldering away.
old signs

After a time following the cascading creek I began to ascend. There was lots of mountain laurel in bloom.
lots of laurel
mountain laurel (2)
There was also some tulip poplar in bloom.
tulip poplar flower
Eventually the trail leveled out a bit and followed an old road for a bit to an old cemetery.
cemetery
It was an interesting, semi-forgotten looking place with a few readable headstones.
Lucinda Daniel
I spent a few minutes snooping around and then got back on the trail which remained an old road for a bit. There is, in fact, a whole maze of old roads back there.

I left the old road and began to descend. Soon I came to a wet section of trail near a creek. I saw a garter snake out basking in the sun.
snake
Along my hike I also saw some day flower in bloom,
day flower
a caterpillar,
caterpillar
and some bright orange fungi growing on a tree.
fungi
I slowly made my way back to the group campground and followed the gated road from there back to my car.
road walk

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