Monday, September 6, 2010

Meigs Creek Trail

Trail Miles Completed: 3.5
Trail Miles Hiked: 7.0
6 Sept. 2010

Happy Labor Day! What better way to start off a holiday than with an invigorating hike?  I hopped out of bed bright and early this morning and got to the Meigs Creek trailhead at the Sinks by about 7:15 am.  Despite the fact this it's a holiday there weren't many folks out and about that early, and I only saw two other pairs of hikers on my hike.

Meigs Creek trail winds up and over a western ridge of Curry He Mountain, and then up a fairly narrow draw following the banks of Meigs Creek which ultimately drains into the Little River.  The Little Brown Book says that this is a good trail to practice your rock-hopping skills, and suggests that the many creek crossings can be difficult or dangerous when the water is high.  It's been hot and dry for a while now, so the 18+ creek crossings were no problem for me today.  Here's an example of one of the lower crossings.

The trail leaves the newly renovated Sinks parking area (which is VERY nice compared to what it used to look like) and rises fairly steeply over the first mile as it skirts a ridge of Curry He Mountain.  It's an interesting contrast of north-facing vs. south-facing slopes.  The first mile as you're going up the ridge is a north-facing slope and is damp, cool and shady with plants like rhododendron, maples, hemlocks and lots of ferns.  As you cross over the ridge and begin to descend down to Meigs Creek you move onto a south-facing slope that is considerably drier and more exposed and has more pines, oaks and mountain laurels.

You can hear Meigs Creek before you actually get to it, and it's a typically gorgeous little mountain creek.  Lots of rocks and little pools, with the banks overhung with rhododendron & hemlock (although sadly many of the hemlocks are dead or dying from the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid infestation).  There are no bridges across the creek, and I counted 18 crossings ranging from around 8 feet across to less than 2 feet.  But the water was low today and there was no problem rock hopping.

The trail follows Meigs Creek from here up a fairly narrow draw, so there wasn't much sunlight and it was a gorgeous cool, dim, misty morning.  There's a beautiful little waterfall right off the trail - probably 15 feet high - cascading down a mossy face.

This is quite a ferny hike - lots of New York fern, and one of my favorite ferns - the northern Maidenhair fern.

Meigs Creek trail dead-ends at Buckhorn Gap where it meets the Meigs Mountain and Lumber Ridge trails.  I stopped for a quick break and a snack before turning around to head back to the car.  Sitting there enjoying my snacks I looked up to see the sun filtering through the trees.  It was just plain gorgeous!

The trip back down was uneventful.  It took me a total of 2 1/2 hours to make the 7 mile round trip hike - a pretty good rate.  I was home by 11 am and energized for the rest of the day.   I'd definitely recommend this hike - it's short, not too strenuous and Meigs Creek is beautiful!

So til next time, happy hiking!