January 6th, 2020
On Monday, Wayne, Pam and I, drove towards Franklin NC and to the trailhead for the Bartram Trail at Hickory Knoll Road. Our intentions were to hike along this section of the Bartram Trail for as long as our time would permit, then turn around and head back to our vehicle. As always, we were hoping to get in at least ten miles of hiking.
Part of this section is a relatively new reroute of the Bartram Trail. Anybody that is familiar with the Bartram Trail knows that there had been a fourteen mile roadwalk between the Buckeye Branch Road Trailhead and the Wallace Branch Trailhead. In an attempt to get at least a few of those fourteen miles off the road and back into the woods, this reroute was created. Pam and I first hiked it together back in April of 2018.
The weather today was nearly ideal for hiking. The sky was clear blue with few, if any, clouds. The temperature started out in the mid-thirties and rose only into the mid-fifties.
The trail climbs steeply for the first three and a half miles and passes below the summit of George Gray Mountain as it makes it’s way to near the top of the Pinnacle at an elevation of about 3,300 feet. Though the name is similar, this should not be confused with Pinnacle Knob. Pinnacle Knob is a short but steep side trail off the Bartram Trail that can be reached via the Warwoman Dell trailhead near Clayton Georgia. It leads to a rocky overlook with beautiful views and is a great place to sit and eat lunch. I’ve been there several times, including once with my wife Joann.
While it may be hard to tell from the image below, this rockface is actually fairly tall. My guess is that it’s somewhere between thirty and forty feet high from where the trail passes at it’s base, to the top of the rockface. Four and a half years ago, during the summer of 2015, Wayne, Pam, and I, together with Tally, had been section hiking the Bartram. On the day that we hiked this section, the skies fully opened up and the rain absolutely poured down on us. We stopped here hoping the rockface might provide at least a little bit of shelter from the weather while we hurried to put on our rain gear. By the end of that hike, my boots were filled with water and we were all completely drenched. I don’t think that I’ve ever been that wet on a trail, either before or since. With no rain in sight this time around, the three of us could laugh about it as we reminisced.
When we reached the junction with the Buckeye Creek Trail, we sat in a sunny, wind sheltered spot and ate our lunches. After we finished eating, instead of heading back the way we had come, we decided to follow the Buckeye Creek trail to Tessentee Road. From there, we would roadwalk the rest of the way back to our vehicle, forming a loop.
After some steep downhill, we reached Tessentee Road. The roadwalk is easy and rather pleasant (except for several encounters with unleashed and somewhat territorial dogs). There were not many motorists and the views from the valley were pretty great. Here, we passed a small wooden structure with signage that says “STORE, EST 1939”. The two men that are renovating it for the property owner, allowed us to go inside and check it out. While it had been a Feed store many years ago, it will now be turned into guest quarters with a Murphy bed and a small shower. I think that it’s going to be very popular with the owners visiting family and friends.
As we continued to walk the road, we saw many beautiful homes situated amidst the sprawling landscape of verdant rolling hills, with nearby mountains providing the perfect backdrop.
According to my Garmin gps, by the time that we reached our vehicle, we had hiked 10.8 miles. Our total vertical was 4,060 feet, including 2,030 feet of elevation gain. Because of the steep climb at the beginning, I would rate it as being somewhere between moderately-strenuous and strenuous.
This had been a really enjoyable day. If you’re ever in the area and you like to hike, I would highly recommend it. Thanks for reading.