Sometimes I go east of Asheville. Today I needed to scout a hike I’ll be leading for the Carolina Mountain Club in December: Kitsuma Peak. This was not wilderness, but the history and trails were very interesting.
Kitsuma Peak is in the Appalachian District of Pisgah National Forest. The trail up Youngs Ridge starts from the Old Fort Picnic Area. I’ve never seen anyone actually picnicking there though there are several tables, water and a bathroom. It’s a nice spot by the Swannanoa River.
The climb up Youngs Ridge is not steep, just steady.
I hadn’t been here since 2007 and I remember it as much steeper. Either I’m in good shape or I have a poor memory. Maybe the latter since I forgot that it was hunting season. Fortunately, Tish, my hiking partner today, remembered and brought two vests. We wore our vests on the outside of our packs, which was a pain but I was grateful for the orange.
We got to the top of Kitsuma Peak in a little over two hours. We had great views to the south of Old Fort but I couldn’t identify any of the mountains.
Then we started the down, down, down as the traffic noise on I-40 got louder and louder. We met a fellow mountain biking up the trail. We reached a wide road and paralleled I-40. We passed a few houses which now faced I-40. No walls, no noise barriers, just the interstate.
We turned right in Swannanoa Gap and walked on Royal Gorge Rd. Then we reached the barricade and it became Point Lookout Trail – see the picture above. The road had been resealed, probably for bikes, since traffic was not allowed here.
Point Lookout was another surprise.
A Boy Scout Troop had placed two benches and a flag pole. Quite a contrast from the way it was two years ago.
We paralleled the railroad tracks, though we didn’t see a train. The Southern Railroad goes in and out of tunnels. This was the last push for the railroad before it came to Asheville in 1880. Lots of history here which I recount in Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage.
Finally, we come back to the traffic part of the road and pass several horses in a field.
I told you at the beginning that it was not a wilderness hike.