Friends of the Smokies – Up to Hemphill Bald


What a day.

A group from Friends of the Smokies went up to Hemphill Bald today. At 5,000 feet, we had sun and a cool breeze. We thought we were past all the spring flowers but we saw quite a few – brook lettuce, violets, mayflowers, umbrella plants and toothworts. See the picture below.FOTShemphillbald-toothwort

But it’s the view at Hemphill Bald which makes this hike a classic. You can see down into Maggie Valley, across to a mountain range and views to the left and right.

Judy Coker, owner of Cataloochee Ranch, greeted us and spoke about the history of the ranch. Her father started the ranch in 1939 and it’s going strong today. In addition, the land has been put in a conservation easement so it won’t be developed. You won’t see a lot of huge houses on top of Hemphill Bald in a few years.

FOTShemphillbald-GroupI heard the history last year but each year, I learn a bit more about Cataloochee Ranch.

We walked down through her property, a grassy meadow with buttercups lighting the way.

FOTShemphillbald-atMasonicmarkerWhen we got back to the car, I took the group to the Masonic marker at Black Camp Gap. I thought I had found a real gem but four hikers had already been there.  This marker has been on the Blue Ridge Parkway since 1938.

If you want to know more about this marker, including how to get there, see my article at National Parks Traveler.

Sign up for the next Friends of the Smokies hike!


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