Zen Garden Bald, Pisgah Forest

Last Sunday we hiked with Upstate Hiking to Zen Garden Bald in the Middle Prong Wilderness.    Other than to say it is off the MST, I’m not really going to go into any detail on where it is.  Sometimes you want to keep a beautiful place from becoming so overrun with other people that you just have to be silent.  I will say that we started at the Devils Courthouse parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway and made our way up to see the view.  The forecast for the day had a chance of rain as have most days this summer but the sun was shining when we got there.Image

The group found its way to the MST and headed towards the Middle Prong.  The trail winds its way through the woods on a generally downhill trek passing some large rocks and crossing at least one small stream.  ImageI had some idea of looking for a way to climb up them but didn’t see anything obvious.  It would have been possible but not for this hike.

About half way to the bald, the MST crosses 215 and heads back into the woods.  Not much in the way of wildflowers right now but we spotted some fungus and mushrooms on our travels.  DSCN7132ImageWe did see what I thought were black eyed susans at the Pisgah store.

It’s been a week since we hiked so I almost forgot to say how muddy the trail was in some spots.  We had to jump around the worst of it but I managed to sink into the mud at one point and got some in my boot.  No worries.  Really just a minor inconvenience.

The terrain on this hike is varied and at one point we walked into an open field closer to the 215 trailhead. DSCN7138 There was also at least one place where the trees stood tall and spare, their canopy above us.

At one point, we ran into an unusual group of hikers.  They were from Challenge Adventures out of Waynesville, NC and they were on a training trip with their llamas which are used as therapy for young people with various disabilities.  The llamas were very pretty and well-behaved.  The group had just come from where we were going but they call it No Name Bald.  Image

Here’s a link to their website in case you are interested.

http://www.challengeadventures.org/about.html

The group continued on hiking through bits of prickly blackberries; the trail was somewhat overgrown in places.   We spotted a waterfall far off the trail and I stopped to take a picture. Image

I’m not aware that it has a name and I’m told there is no trail to get there but maybe someday we will try.

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There were several nice views off the trail between 215 and the bald.  I fell behind several times but Mr. T waited up for me and we continued on.

We eventually found the side trail to the bald where the woods open up very quickly to a beautiful view of the mountains.  DSCN7168

It was cloudy when we got there and we had a few sprinkles but managed to eat lunch, walk around and take some pictures, and just generally enjoy the beautiful view until we had to make the trip back.

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I saw some very nice ferns on the bald while we were up there and took some photos of the clouds.  DSCN7158

For some reason, I really love this place.  Maybe it is the solitude (even though you are with a group) or the fact that not many people get here.  No matter what it is, I always look forward to at least one trip here a year.

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We returned the same way we came and the hike back was more difficult once we reached 215 as we wound our way back uphill to the parking lot.

Another great day in the woods.

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