For next month’s Friends of the Smokies hike, I’m offering what I cleverly called a cult hike for afficionados. Of course, anyone and everyone is welcome but I thought I would pick out an out-of-way trailhead on Straight Fork Road.
I scouted the hike a couple of days ago. Keith, an intern for FOTS, came with his big professional camera. Three Carolina Mountain Club members also came for the ride-literally. It turned out that this area was new to only one person. So much for remote locations.
So where is Straight Fork Road? Here I’m going to be blasted again by readers who would like all these trailheads to be secret. They would confine visitors to a few trails off of US 441. No-everyone and anyone is encouraged to find and hike from any of the 16 entrances into the Smokies. Our lands will only be protected for future generations if people actually use the lands.
From Cherokee, take Big Cove Road past the Cherokee high school, past the turn-off to Mingo Falls to the end where the road tees. Make a right and soon you’re out of Cherokee and back in the Smokies. Park at the wide pull-out and walk down the road a little way to the Hyatt Ridge Trail.
It’s a steep trail, an unrelenting up for 2,000 feet.
But oh, the colors-red, yellow, orange and still lots of green. It’s a wonderful fall.
We noticed the changing trees as we climbed from 3,000 feet to 5,000 ft. We continued until campsite #44 where we had lunch – see the photo above. We had the spot to ourselves. I predict that when we hike it again with FOTS on November 15, there won’t be anyone else there.
People say that they want solitude but most don’t really mean it. If they did, there would be more hikers on these remote trails – and of course, they wouldn’t be so remote anymore.
We came down Beech Gap Trail, a great downhill slide, our reward for the steep climb.
Interested? Friends of the Smokies will be leading this hike on Thursday November 15. See the website and sign up.