Friday, December 20, 2013

Pisgah National Forest: Roundtop Ridge Trail to Rich Mountain Fire Tower

I finally got out of the house for some real adventure. I ate breakfast and packed up my stuff for the drive into Hot Springs for my hike up the Roundtop Ridge Trail to the Rich Mountain Fire Tower. As I approached Hot Springs, I turned off onto River Road. After just a short drive on River Road I turned right onto Reservoir and followed this dirt road until it dead-ended at a water tower.
Trailhead Water Tower
I guess the tower is the reservoir that Reservoir Road is named for.

The trail was unmarked at its lowest reaches, but it was easy to follow as it lay in the bed of an old road. The old road closely paralleled a small creek with stone walls to protect the road from getting washed out in times of flood.
old wall
It then switchbacked away from the creek as it ascended. A short while later the road veered to the right where it ended at a cul-de-sac. The trail went straight however, and continued to ascend up to the top of the ridge.
hiking up
This trail is appearantly an old section of the Appalachian Trail before it was rerouted some time ago. I didn't see a whole lot of evidence of the trail being the former AT, except for a few extremely faint white blazes barely showing a a couple trees.
faded blaze
At one point I saw an opossum laying in the leaf litter on the forest floor. It looked dead, but I figured it could just be "playing 'possum".
Not Playin' Possum
I decided if it was still here on my descent that I would officially declare it deceased.

Not much stands out from this trail. It was a mostly gentle ascent up the ridge to the Appalachian Trail. Once I reached the AT, I followed it north for a bit, before taking a spur trail to my destination for the hike: the Rich Mountain Fire Tower.
trail junction
Rich Mountain Fire Tower
The fire tower is not as isolated as one might guess as there is a road that leads right to it. Due to the easy access the tower is covered in graffiti and a bit vandalized. I enjoyed the view from the cab of the tower for a bit
In Rich Mountain Fire Tower
View From Rich Mountain Fire Tower
and then started my descent, passing a concrete foundation that I'm guessing was the location of the fire lookout's privy.
old privy foundation

The descent went faster than the ascent.
trail sign
The only difficulty was the slippery dead leaves that littered the trail. When I had returned to the site of the opossum, it was sadly still there. From the opossum it was a quick walk on the old road back to my car.             

1 comment:

luksky said...

Wonder how the opossum died...