Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cherokee National Forest: Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail

After yesterday's long drive and hike, I opted for a hike a little bit closer to home and one that would be a bit shorter. I decided that the Pinnacle Mountain Trail up to the fire tower fit the bill perfectly. I made the quick drive over to Erwin, headed north on I-26 for a few miles and exited near the town of Unicoi for my hike up to the tower.

The trailhead is located at Jack Snider Park,
Jack Snider Park sign
a Unicoi Town Park with a picnic area.
Trailhead
The trail starts into pleasant woods and gently starts to ascend. 
pleasant trail
There were some pretty big trees along the lower portions of trail and lots of wildflowers in bloom
flowers
geranium
hawkweed
dayflower
azalea
including a pink lady slipper.
pink lady slipper
There were also lots of American chestnuts,
chestnut
though they were all stunted little shrubs due to the Chestnut Blight. At about the halfway point of the ascent there is a nice view out across the "Valley Beautiful" to Unaka Mountain.
Unaka Mountain View
As far as wildlife, I saw a few centipedes
cenitpede
and many caterpillar-like larvae.
larvae

The climb never really got all that difficult, though there were a few short, steep sections. Before I knew it I was at the Pinnacle Fire Tower.
Pinnacle Fire Tower
There is a large, concrete C6 embedded in the ground near the base of the tower.
C6
I'm assuming this is so the tower could be identified from the air. I climbed to the top to find two others enjoying the view. I ate a snack there and took some photos before heading back down to the car.
Eric at Tower
The trip back to the car was uneventful, though there were many more people out on the trail now, enjoying the beautiful weather.                

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