Sunday, October 26, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Brushy Mountain Trail

Another beautiful day was forecast for today. I woke up early again and made the drive over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Today I headed over to the Greenbrier section of the park for a hike up the Brushy Mountain Trail to, no surprise, Brushy Mountain.

I was on the trail at around 8:30. The trail was deserted. It was just me and the changing leaves. There was some fog in certain areas that the sun was trying to burn off. I started off hiking the closed gravel road that serves as the Porters Creek Trail. Porters Creek was lovely just like I remembered it from my last visit, clear and cascading over the abundant rocks in its bed.
cascade on Porters Creek
I passed a large wasp nest just off to the side of the trail.
wasp nest
Luckily they were not active on this cool morning. There were lots of signs of the community that once existed in the area, lots of stone walls.

Soon enough I reached the turnaround loop on the gravel road. Here I found the Brushy Mountain Trail which I would follow for the next 4.7 miles up and then 4.7 miles back down.
Brushy Mountain sign
The sun began to really burn through the fog at this point revealing the blue sky which contrasted dramatically with the reds, yellows, and oranges of the leaves.
At a little cascading creek that looked like a possible site for a natural water slide
sliding rock
(it was too cold to test it out) I stopped to check my map
and eat a snack. When I was finished eating I continued on with a steady ascent
Eric on trail
eventually reaching the Trillium Gap Trail.

At the junction with the Trillium Gap Trail,
the Brushy Mountain Trail gets pretty interesting. The foot path becomes a deeply rutted track lined with mountain laurel and rhododendron.
rutted trail
As you ascend the vegetation gets a bit brushier (maybe this is why its called Brushy Mountain) and the views open up. There were impressive views over to Mount LeConte
LeConte 3
and the mountains to the east. I had arrived just as the last of the fog was burning off.
fog clearing
I found a spot near the summit benchmark
to eat lunch and admire the views before turning around to head back to the car.

The hike down the mountain went faster than the climb up. I saw a few red squirrels in the trees on the way down and they both scolded me with their chattering.
red squirrel
I only ran into two other hikers on the trail. One was a volunteer out to remove some of the blowdowns blacking the trail. The other was an older gentleman who seemed to be enjoying the fine weather and fall colors.
hiker on trail
Sierra must be influencing me a bit, because when I had descended to Porters Creek
Porters Creek 3
I took off my shoes and dipped my piggies in the water.
piggies in water
It was very cold, but refreshing. After resting my feet for a bit I got out of the water
foot prints on rock
and headed back to the car for the drive home.                 

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