Carolina Mountain Club hikes the Montreat Wilderness

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The Montreat Wilderness offers 30 miles of trail so close to Asheville. The Montreat community has wisely permanently protected  2,500 acres of land, which will never be developed.

Yesterday I led a hike for Carolina Mountain Club that took in five of the seven sisters (peaks) and Graybeard Mountain. Eleven eager hikers came for the challenge. It was a beautiful warm day and I wore shorts. Yippee!!

Pine Mountain loop was billed as a strenuous hike, and for once, I agreed–9.5 miles and over 2,500 foot ascent. The climb came all at once in the first half of the hike. No matter where you go in Montreat, you have to climb out of the valley.  I was concerned that with the short days, we wouldn’t make it back before dark. Montreat is a great hiking area in the fall and winter, but was this hike too challenging for the short days?

Big Piney Ridge Trail took us from the Montreat residential areas to Big Piney, also known as Brushy Knob. The picture above was taken on the rock outcrop just before Brushy Knob. By then, we had climbed over 1,000 feet and were ready for a break. 

Then we went up and down several times on the West Ridge Trail. The North Fork Reservoir was in full view below in several spots; that’s where Asheville gets its water.

The seven peaks are known as the Seven Sisters. Because of the way we approached West Ridge Trail, we only did five of them–Big Piney, Unnamed peak, Forked Ridge Knob, unnamed peak, Big Slaty. But the numbering of the peaks was messed up. Big Piney was #4, then the Unnamed one was #3, and back to #5 for Forked Ridge Knob. And why unnamed peaks? Aren’t there enough people and groups to honor? I suggest that they name the second unnamed peak at 4,830 feet, CMC Knob.

2013montreatgreybeardfallsA.jpgGraybeard Mountain, at 5,408 feet, is not one of the seven sisters. Maybe it’s the benevolent mother. After we left Graybeard, it was down, down, down. We passed Walker Knob Shelter and asked who Walker was. We took the side trip to Graybeard Falls, really a cascade and enjoyed the new switchbacks down the mountain.

To my amazement and delight, we got back to the cars before 4 pm, in plenty of daylight.

Thank you, Montreat Conference Center, for allowing the public to hike on your great trails.

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