Last Saturday we hiked with our friends from Upstate Hiking. Nine intrepid hikers started out from the Daniel Ridge Loop trailhead in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina taking the left leg of the loop which follows the Davidson River and then the Lanning Branch.
The river had quite a bit of water in it and there are many places to take scenic photos.
The forest was a lush green and as we walked we noticed many wildflowers on each side of the trail.
There were several camp sites along this trail, empty that day, where camping is apparently permitted. On the trail, we passed an old fish hatchery which one of my fellow hikers said dated back to the 1940s.
We came to a point in the trail to the left where a bridge was out (there was a sign that said trail closed) but thinking it was Farlow Gap (which it was not, don’t make that mistake), we decided to rock hop the river and hike up the trail.
I kick myself for not taking out the map here but no worries. I usually do so I don’t know what possessed me. Maybe I just wanted to see where it went. Exploratory! We won’t make that turn again but I did get a very nice photo of a Jack-in-the-Pulpit and a few other nice shots.
We hiked about another half hour and finally made it to the Farlow Gap turn. The trail Ts off here so it is hard to miss it. It almost immediately begins to switchback up a mountain. On the lower part of this trail, there were number of Vesey’s Trillium which were blooming and I took a few pictures, only one of which really turned out.
I had brought my Nikon Coolpix with me which is a very serviceable little camera because there was the potential for rain and left my fancier camera at home!
Mr. T was in the lead and after we had gone several miles down the trail, with a stop for lunch in between, we got to Shuck Ridge Creek. At this point the trail appears to start immediately uphill. Several in the group encouraged me to give up my quest for Farlow Gap that day as we had already hit the five mile mark so we decided to take a ten minute break and then turn around.
I hated to give it up but there is always another day. I really don’t know whether there is much to see at Farlow Gap but before we got turned around several of us were already thinking about other ways to get there another time.
We returned to the Farlow Gap trailhead with Daniel Ridge Loop. Within ten or fifteen minutes, the sky opened up and the rain started to fall. I had left my raincoat off as I had been very hot (temps were in the 80s that day) but eventually stopped to put the raincoat on. Water was cascading down the middle of the trail and we sidestepped it as much as possible. After about fifteen minutes, the rain did stop and the sun came back out.
I stopped to take a photo of some mushroom and a few of us stopped to take a photo of the salamander in the photo below sitting in the middle of the trail. He was pretty patient for a few minutes and started to wander off.
Eventually the group made its way around to the turn to the bottom of Jackson Falls (we passed the top of it farther back up the trail). This is a 150 foot waterfall but I don’t believe you can see the entire thing from where we stood at the bottom but what we could see was very beautiful. It was pretty grown in from the road. With the recent rain, it had a decent bit of water.
The group continued on towards the trailhead. The beginning and end of this loop start on a roadbed. We were all a little damp as we got into our vehicles and headed back towards South Carolina. Even with the rain it was a lovely day in the woods.
The guys said we did 11 miles. That’s not what the map says but the map is not always correct. As hikes in the mountains go, I didn’t think this was that difficult but I’d rate it strenuous due to mileage and elevation gain.