Monday, January 27, 2014

Cherokee National Forest: Iron Furnace Trail

I had originally wanted to hike the trail up to the Pinnacle Fire Tower on Buffalo Mountain today, but drizzle and a forecast of snow showers led me to believe I wouldn't get any views from the tower and I decided to leave that hike for a clearer day. Instead I made the drive over to Clark's Creek for a hike on the Iron Furnace Trail. I started my hike at the wide gravel parking area near the first road crossing of Clark's Creek.
Clark's Creek
I crossed the creek on the bridge and found the old Clarksville Iron Furnace.
Clarksville Iron Furnace
There used to be a historic marker on TN-107 that explained the history of the furnace. It's either been stolen or was removed for refurbishing. Here is a link to an image of it.  I explored the furnace a bit and then made my way over to the Iron Furnace Trail.

Immediately I found a sign declaring that the trail was closed.
iron Furnace Trail
The sign went on to read that foot traffic is acceptable. That makes the trail "not closed" doesn't it? Perhaps it should have read "Closed to Horse Traffic". Anyway as I made my way up the trail I immediately found conditions very icy.
icy trail
A spring is located just off to the side of the trail and flows onto the trail. With the recent cold temperatures the water froze into some thick, solid ice. Luckily I had brought my microspikes and I took them out of my pack and put them on for the first time since my hike into the Grand Canyon about a year ago.
traversing ice

While this was the only section of trail where the microspikes were absolutely necessary, I decided to keep them on to make traversing the mud and slippery leaves easier. The trail followed the creek bed for a short distance and then became a well-defined old road. This road was apparently the route used by the furnace operators to transport resources to the furnace from nearby Bumpas Cove. While the road was well-defined, it was a bit difficult to traverse due to the many trees that had fallen over the trail.
blowdowns on trail
The tree mortality in the area is likely due to a forest fire that happened here back in 2007.

The trail climbed to a ridge and followed it for a bit, offering nice views of the snow covered peaks in the higher elevations.
mountains pano
Soon after reaching the ridge the trail came to a gap on Embreeville Mountain where there is an old bearing tree.
bearing tree
The old road continued down the mountain into Bumpas Cove, but according to my map the land on the other side was private (and also a highly contaminated superfund site). I opted to turn around at this point, but first I checked another road heading up the ridge at the gap. It led to the top of a small peak and there were lots of shallow pits dug into the mountain here. I'm guessing these pits were used in charcoal production for the furnace, but I may be wrong.

Soon I was headed back down the trail to the car. The downhill hike was fast, and before I knew it I was back to the car and on my way home.        

1 comment:

Sara B said...

Looks like you are enjoying your new surroundings and exploring it as well. Bet the little one is getting big.