Saturday, March 12, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Newton Bald Trail

Today was my last hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, at least for a while. As I mentioned in a post back in February, the Grunwalds are headed north to Minnesota in a few weeks. Today, however, I thought I would savor one more hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. I arrived at the trailhead for the Newton Bald Trail just before 8 am.
trailhead
I gathered my pack and hit the trail. The hike was a long, but gradual, ascent. I saw the first wildflowers of 2016 along the way: some hepatica.
1st wildflowers

Before I knew it, I was at the intersection with the Mingus Creek Trail.
at mingus creek
I sat and ate a snack at the junction and then continued on. The trail skirted the summit of Newton Bald. I decided I would make the short bushwhack to tag the summit on the return trip though. I passed Campsite 52 and continued on to the Thomas Divide Trail. At Thomas Divide I made a right to hike a short .4 mile section that I missed the other two times I had hiked in this vicinity. I reached the junction with Sunkota Ridge
last junction
and then promptly turned around to head to the summit of Newton Bald.

The bushwhack involved a hike along an undefined ridge up to the highest point of the mountain. It is no longer a bald though, and so there are no distant views. I took a photo at the highest point,
Newton Bald summit
rested a bit, and then made my way back to the Newton Bald Trail for the descent back to the car. The hiking went very fast. There's not a whole lot to divert one's attention yet this time of the year. most wildflowers have not yet emerged and the wildlife is not very active yet. I did find a nice snail shell though.
snail shell

Once back at the car, I changed into my sandals and headed over to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to claim my Hike the Smokies reward pins. Over the course of our 3 years in Tennessee, I've manged to hike just over 500 miles in the National Park and have therefore earned all three pins.
hiking pins
After claiming my prizes, it was a long drive back to Greeneville. Of all the things that I will miss about living here, perhaps the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be the greatest.

1 comment:

luksky said...

Congrats on the miles! The pins are nice.