On 7/8, I rode my bicycle to the Anthony Creek Trail head at the top of the picnic area. I followed this pretty trail for 1.6 miles and then veered right at the junction of the Russell Field Trail. This trail follows the Left Prong of Anthony Creek (crossing it a few times on foot logs.) The trail passes some impressive old growth trees and climbs steadily to join the Appalachian Trail at the new Russell Field Shelter. I spotted several bear tracks in the mud on my hike up. I ate a quick lunch at the shelter while reading the shelter journal and then hiked north on my familiar old Appalachian Trail to the beautiful Spence Field. Here, I joined the Bote Mountain trail, and I drank my fill of ice cold water from a wonderful spring just a hundred yards or so below the ridge. This is an interesting old road, deeply ravined and rocky. The elevation dropped quickly in the 1.6 miles before I joined back with the Anthony Creek Trail to hike 3.6 miles back down to the Cades Cove Picnic area. About 1/2 mile from the trailhead, the skies opened up with a drenching rain and I ended my hike completely soaked.
Miles Hiked: 13.4
On 7/11, I returned by bicycle to the Anthony Creek trailhead to do another loop hike. This time, I hiked Anthony Creek back to the Bote Mountain Trail and then turned left (downhill) on Bote Mountain. I followed it down to the little Lead Cove Trail which I followed down to its end at Laurel Creek road. I crossed the road and hiked 2/10 of a mile on Turkeypen Ridge to join up with the Crib Gap Trail. As I hiked this low-elevation, road-skirting, non-descript trail through the deep heat and humidity of the day, I told myself that I would never remember anything about this trail unless I happened to see a bear. About five minutes later, I made eye contact with a black bear who promptly exited the trail! I guess I will remember Crib Gap Trail after all. Crib Gap joins Anthony Creek to complete the loop.
Miles Hiked: 8.8