Florence Preserve in Hickory Nut Gorge has had a new trailhead for a few months now. I finally got to rehike my loop in Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage because the book will be reprinted next spring. That was motivation to get down there.
The new trailhead is about a mile south of Kelly Hill Rd. I drove down, down, down, knowing full well that I’m going to have to get back up. The trailhead is very nice, at a chimney on the left side of the road. See above.
There’s parking for several cars. There’s even two sets of stone steps which lead up to the chimney but no indication about the origin of the chimney.
The trail starts left of the chimney, as you face it. It’s well signposted with yellow diamonds and white circles – no relation to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
The new trail is steep; it just goes straight up. I’m concerned that it will discourage marginal hikers who don’t want to put out the effort to climb.
It’s a short climb, a very short climb, but it starts at the beginning of the trail. As soon as the trail moderates, it passes an old cabin. After less than a half-mile, the yellow trail intersects the blue trail. If you make a right turn, you’ll be back on the loop.
The new trailhead and trail were needed because Kelly Hill Rd. is a private road. Residents didn’t want people driving or even walking up the road. So Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy which owns the land came up with this alternate route.
The new route (or should I say, current route) adds more than 500 feet of ascent and about 0.8 mile to the hike. Still a great, short hike.