Saturday, March 1, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Old Settlers Trail Greenbrier to Campsite 33

I went back to Great Smoky Mountains National Park today to finish what I had started two weeks ago; namely my hike of the Old Settlers Trail. This time I would head into the Greenbrier section of the park. It was a part of the national park I had never been to before. I turned off of US highway 321 and entered into a pleasant landscape of trees and cascading water. Slowly I made my way to the small parking area at the trailhead for the Old Settlers Trail near a bridge that crosses over the Little Pigeon River.
Little Pigeon River
I grabbed my pack and trekking pole and hit the trail.

The trail started off in a river bottom area with a few interesting rock outcroppings. The trail ascended, then turned away from the river on an old road. I followed the old road for a short distance until I found an unmarked trail leading off through a low area that looked like it occasionally floods. The well-trodden, though unofficial trail then followed an old road up a hill to an old cemetery.
cemetery 1
Several of the graves in the cemetery were unmarked, other bore the name Parton.
old Parton grave
Ben Parton grave
These were likely ancestors of the well-known entertainer Dolly Parton. I spent a few minutes exploring the cemetery and then headed back to the Old Settlers Trail.

Once back on the trail I followed old roads quite often. While this part of the Old Settlers Trail did not seem to have as many vestiges of habitation as the other section I had hiked, there were some rock walls lining some of the old roads I followed.
wall and creek
Eventually I ascended, following a cascading creek.
Then I started a descent passing the remains of a chimney.
crumbling chimney
I followed an old road down along another creek and found a well-trodden path which followed an old road on the other side of the stream. I just had to see what the path led to. I followed this old road up a hill to a fairly large cleared area. A well-maintained gravel road intersected my trail at this point. I could see a set of stairs leading up a small incline and so I went to see what was there. It turned out to be another cemetery, my second of the day.
cemetery 2
The predominant name found in this cemetery was Huskey.
Huskey grave
I took a few minutes to explore the graves a bit and then ate a snack on the stairs.
Farar grave

Mollie Frazier grave
grave (2)
Ownby grave

After I had finished my snack I hit the trail again. I followed the old road back to the Old Settlers Trail. The trail led through some old fields, now returning to forest. Soon I found a hand painted sign and a blazed trail (not authorized by the NPS I'm sure) that led up to the Green Cemetery.
Green Cemetery sign
It was a steep climb up to the cemetery which turned out to be quite small. I photographed one headstone and then retraced my steps back to the official trail.
Minerva Green grave

The trail led to an intersection with another old road. I was curious and so I followed the road to an unofficial, but well maintained trail. Not knowing where this trail led I returned to the official Old Settlers Trail. This half of the trail definitely did not offer as many glimpses of old chimneys as the other half. I did find an old wash basin,
wash basin
now rusting into oblivion and shortly before arriving at Campsite 33 I found the most intact section of chimney that I discovered on the hike.
another chimney
Once I reached the campsite I turned around and had a relatively quick hike back to my car.

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