After a weekend of consuming an abundance of food and drink at the family reunion, we were more than ready for a day on the trail. It always feels so good to breath fresh air, stretch our legs, work those muscles, and sweat out some of those impurities we’ve dumped into our bodies.
For our hike, we chose Turkeypen Ridge Trail. We put it with a few others to make a 9-mile, relatively easy loop--just what we needed after almost a week off the trail. Another plus for Turkeypen Ridge is the trailhead is close. We wanted to hike, not spend too much time in the car.
|Hearts a burstin'|
For our hike, we parked at the trailhead on Laurel Creek Road at Big Spring Cove. This is the same parking lot used for Finley Cane Trail and Lead Cove Trail. There are parking pull-outs on both sides of Laurel Creek Road, but because there are three trailheads here, finding a spot can sometimes be difficult. Our plan was to begin our hike with the 3.6 miles of Turkeypen Ridge Trail, then hike down 1.1 miles of Schoolhouse Gap Trail, connect with Bote Mountain Trail on the other side of Laurel Creek Road, hike up Bote Mountain Trail to Finley Cane trail which would bring us back to our car making a total hiking distance of 9 miles. It would have been possible to do this same loop by parking at Schoolhouse Gap trailhead. For a longer, more strenuous hike, Lead Cove Trail could be used instead of Finley Cane.
The first leg of our hike, Turkeypen Ridge Trail, was a very pleasant walk through low elevation hardwood forest and rhododendron. There are a couple of small stream crossings within the first half mile, but nothing to worry about. They were very shallow and narrow--easily crossed. The hike begins in the wide, flat area of Big Spring Cove. There are few flat areas in the Smokies. Before the Park was established, all these areas were farms. We saw several rock piles--evidence the land had been cleared for crops.
|There are still a few folks out enjoying the Park|
We descended from the ridge to the junction with Schoolhouse Gap Trail. This trail is an old roadbed--wide and well graded. It’s an easy 1.1 mile walk, partly along Spence Branch to the large parking lot on Laurel Creek Road. We found a large rock here which made a great place for lunch.
|Lower section of Bote Mountain Trail|
|I need to get a fungus book. Wish I knew the name of this.|
We had a very nice walk; just what we needed.
We could definitely tell summer is over--the crowds are gone. We saw only one other family on the trail even though there were several cars in the parking lots.
That’s all for today. Thanks for tagging along.