I hate the overused expression “get back to basics”. Usually it means overpriced, overprocessed foods and cosmetics in a environmentally acceptable green color. But sometimes, the saying does work.
When a hiker asks me what trails they should start with in Western North Carolina, I always suggest climbing Mt. Pisgah. Not only is it a classic, but it allows you to orient yourself to the area. Mt. Pisgah is a classic and a basic hike.
From the top of Mt. Pisgah, you’ll see Cold Mountain, Looking Glass Rock, and the Frying Pan Mountain tower.
Sunday, I went on the Carolina Mountain Club half-day hike, led by Bobbi Powers. Since the climb is just 2.6 miles and 750 feet of elevation gain, Bobbi needed a couple more miles to make it a decent half-day hike. So we started and ended at Pisgah Inn. The mile from Pisgah Inn to the bottom of Mt. Pisgah must be the most manicured mile on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the mountains.
We went past the Buckspring Lodge site and peeked into the Spring house, just off the trail.
Some hikers call it a secret. It’s not a secret, folks. Read Walt Weber’s book Trail Profiles and maps from the Great Smokies to Mount Mitchell and Beyond and my two hiking guides.
Then we started climbing Mt. Pisgah. I had forgotten how steep and rocky the trail is.
I’ve been hiking in the Smokies for so long that I sometimes forget that most WNC trails in Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway are full of rocks and roots. I have become so spoiled.
I had to stop a couple of times to take a drink and catch my breath. Since this was an afternoon hike, we were walking in the hottest part of the July day. It wasn’t easy.
Look at the picture to the left.
Now look at the quality of the Chimney Tops Trail. It’s longer and steeper but the trail quality is so good.
What does it all means?
* Mt. Pisgah is actually on Blue Ridge Parkway land. But the Parkway puts fewer resources into quality trails than the Smokies.
* When deciding on a trail, look at distance, altitude gain and terrain. The latter is the hardest information to get, but it’s important.
* Hike up to Mt. Pisgah. It’s worth the effort.