Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flat Creek and Spruce Mountain Trail

Black Betty tagged along today for a little Smokies adventure which involved hiking two separate trails and working in a bicycle shuttle to boot.

To start with, we drove to the Heintooga picnic area and left our bikes at the trail head for the Flat Creek trail. Then we drove back down Heintooga Ridge Road to the southern trail head and hiked north on the beautiful and moderate Flat Creek Trail.

This trail was actually built in 1934 by the C.C.C. and still seems to receive regular maintenance. And if you can believe it, the lush grass which borders the trail for most of its 2.6 miles seemed to have been very recently weed whacked! We certainly enjoyed the beauty of the pristine creek and surroundings and the rather gentle grade of the trail in general. This would be a great one to take kids hiking on.

When we reached the picnic area, we hopped on our bikes and rode downhill 3 1/2 miles to the car.

Next, we drove the one-way Balsam Mountain Road about 6 miles to the Spruce Mountain Trail. Interestingly enough, we saw a turkey hen with about a dozen little chicks and then a ruffed grouse hen with several chicks while driving between the hikes. 

Spruce mountain trail is a short and sweet 1 miler which runs up to the junction of the now closed Polls Gap Trail. It featured a pretty little stream crossing and several large beeches, yellow birches, and red spruce trees. I hiked the 2/10 mile to campsite #42 to check it out. Distant thunder and threatening skies prevented us from hanging out too long so we headed back down hill to the car.