Today I had the privilege to hike with a woman who finished all the trails in Pisgah National Forest.
Sawako J. should really be proud of this accomplishment. The trails in the Pisgah District are rugged, steep and not always well-marked. But it is only by finishing a hiking challenge like the Pisgah 400 that you really learn the area.
According to her records,
“There are 122 trails on the latest P400 list and the total is 456.9 miles.”
But of course, to finish 456.9 miles, you must repeat many sections that you’ve already done, so she may have hiked 600 miles.
Sawako reports that “the first trail I did was #358 Graveyard Field Loop trail on September 27, 2007.”
Today’s hike, her last, took us up Club Gap Trail and on Black Mountain Trail – 10.6 miles and 1,800 feet of ascent. This is a typical all-day hike in Pisgah. Of course, one of the challenges and joys of doing all the trails is that there are short bits of trail that you would never do unless you’re doing all the trails.
Her favorite summer hike was #102 Big Creek to #353 North Mills River where she enjoyed many wet creek crossings.
Her favorite winter hike was # 117 Slick Rock Falls, #601 Sunwall and #132 North Face trails to see three different faces of Looking Glass Rock up close. If you are lucky
you can see rock climbers in action.
Carolina Mountain Club administers several hiking challenges. For the Pisgah 400, it’s real simple. Buy the National Geographic map #780 for the Pisgah Ranger District and hike all the trails on the map. There’s a form on the CMC site which lists all the trails. Keeping good records is key to success.
When you’re done, let the contact person for this challenge know that you’ve done them. No one checks. It’s all on the honor system.