Sunday, February 15, 2015

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Little River and Cucumber Gap Trails

We had originally planned on going to Asheville today. Unfortunately, the weather was not very cooperative. The high temperature for today was forecast to be in the 20s with strong wind gusts of up to around 50 mph. Obviously, not nice weather for walking around outside, especially with a 2 year-old. Instead I opted to go back to the Smokies for a hike in the Elkmont area which we just visited on Friday.

I made the drive into the park and over to Elkmont. I ate a quick snack in the car, donned my coat, hat and mittens, and then hit the Little River Trail.
Little River Trailhead
Immediately, I passed some of the structures
gate to stable
chimney
and interesting decrepit buildings of the Appalachian Club's Millionaire's Row.
stable (2)
old home 1
old home 2
I found a fancy looking stone bridge to be one of the more interesting structures in the area.
stone bridge
old home 3
The trail, actually a gravel road, closely followed the Little River and offered lots of views of small cascades.
little River cascades
more cascades
Due to the recent cold weather all the seeps and springs are frozen
icicles
icy cascade
and the icicles along the trail added to the ambiance of the hike. Soon the trail crossed Huskey Branch on a footbridge where there was a series of cascading waterfalls.
huskey Branch Falls
Upper Huskey Branch
Lower huskey Branch Falls
I took a few minutes to explore the falls before continuing on.

Just past the junction with the Cucumber Gap Trail,
Trail junction
the Little River Trail crossed the Little River on a sturdy bridge.
bridge across Little River
I continued upstream closely following the cascading river. The hiking was easy as the trail continued to follow the old road. Soon I came to a wide, relatively flat area and found a relict of the logging era right on the trail.
old cable
I continued upstream,
Eric on Trail
Little River
crossing streams several times without the benefit of bridges. One of the crossings turned out to be a bit tricky, due to icy stones to cross. I donned my microspikes and carefully made my way across with getting my feet wet. I'm glad I brought the traction devices, as I am sure I would not have been able to cross without them.

Right after the third unbridged crossing I found myself at campsite 30
campsite 30
and the end of the trail. I ate a snack and relaxed for a few cold minutes before turning around for the hike back to the car. The hike back to the junction with the Cucumber Gap Trail went very fast as the trail was well-graded and slightly downhill. I turned onto the Cucumber Gap Trail and climbed gently to the gap through stands of medium sized tulip trees.
between the trees
At the crest of the gap there were some decent views through the bare trees towards Cove Mountain.
distant view
I descended to Jakes Creek Trail and soon found myself in familiar territory that we had explored just 2 days previously. I opted to check out the road that we did not have time to explore last time. It led to the old McNabb Cabin
McNabb Cabin
peek inside
and a NPS stable.
stable
In the woods nearby was an old dump site with some interesting garbage displayed on a rock there.
detritus

I followed Jakes Creek Trail past the homes of Society Hill and back to the car. I took a quick side trip over to Spence Cabin
Spence Cabin 2
to check it and a neighboring cabin
neighbor cabin
out before getting into the car for the drive back to Greeneville.                             

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