Friday, September 21, 2012

West Prong Trail Reopened

We have finally gotten some much needed rain in East Tennessee this week.  It’s just unfortunate that the rains came on the day Doug and Cheryl wanted to take in those gorgeous mountain views.  The rain also caused us to take a little more time in selecting our hiking trail for Wednesday.  Wanted to be sure our hike had the necessary foot bridges.

Our pick turned out to be West Prong Trail.  We’d done this trail earlier in the summer, but it has been closed due to storm damage since early in July.  We noticed last week that it was open again.  The trail is in excellent condition.  There were several areas where we noticed downed trees and about three places where the damage was significant.  The blowdowns which were across the trail have all been cut and moved out of the way and the trail has been repaired.

This log is going to be a nice resting log for a long time to come.

West Prong Trail is 2.7 miles in length from the trailhead and parking lot just across the road from the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont to its junction with Bote Mountain Trail.  This is a moderate hike with a little climbing to get the old heart racing, but not so much as to make the walk unpleasant.  The trail gains about 600 feet in the first 1.25 miles then drops down 400 feet to West Prong and backcountry campsite 18.

This is a large camping area with sites on both sides of the creek.  The largest area is near the footbridge over West Prong.  It is typical of most backcountry sites with a fire ring surrounded by logs for sitting and cooking and a pulley system to hang packs well out of the reach of bears, mice, and other varmint.  However, to the left of this area and down a well trod path is another, more secluded campsite complete with fire ring and pulley system.  Across the creek and to the right is another path which leads to yet another secluded site.  It, too, has a fire ring and a single pulley.  The map indicates campsite 18 will accommodate 12.  There certainly is plenty of space here.

It was a good day for hot tea with lunch

We stopped for a short break and to take a good look around before crossing the footbridge and heading up the hill.  From the campsite, the trail gains that 400 feet it lost earlier.  It’s a steady uphill climb through rhododendron and laurel.  It would be absolutely gorgeous in early summer when these large shrubs are in bloom.

At 2.7 miles West Prong Trail ends at the junction with Bote Mountain Trail.  Going right at this junction would take us 1.2 miles to Laurel Creek Road which would be a nice 8-mile hike.  We opted to go left for just three-tenths of a mile to the junction with Finley Cane Trail.  That gave us an even 6 miles for our round-trip hike.

We were about 2000 feet on the Bote Mountain Trail.  At that elevation, we saw the beginnings of some color in the leaves.

This is a hike we’ll do often.  As with our previous treks along this trail, we enjoyed it very much.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

1 comment:

  1. Love your last photo of the colored leaves. Fall is coming way too soon!