Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rocky Bald Hike

Cricket and I hiked on the Appalachian Trail yesterday from Burningtown Gap to the top of Rocky Bald and back. This is about a 6.5 mile round trip. It's one of those nice and sweet Nantahala hikes across well groomed trails that helps you appreciate the beauty of the southern Appalachians.

From Burningtown Gap (elev. 4205) you head north on the AT and steadily climb 1.2 miles to the classic old Cold Springs Shelter (elev. 4920).  It's a beautiful old shelter built in 1933 by the C.C.C. of native chestnut logs. The shelter actually sits right on the trail and has a wonderful ice cold spring about 5 yards in front of it. There is a privy near by and several camping areas to the left and nicer ones on the ridge to the right. The ridge campsites afford great views of the Burningtown Valley below.

Cold Springs Shelter

View from ridge campsites above shelter.

The trail continues to climb to Copper Ridge Bald lookout (elev. 5166). Copper Bald is famous for it's rare habitat of  naturalized hybrid azaleas. They should be blooming next month, I'll get back to shoot some pictures. Here's a blog I posted last summer when the Copper Bald azaleas were in bloom: copper-bald-azaleas

Cold Springs Gap

Side Trail

View from Rocky Bald

After skirting Copper Bald the trail leads over the top of  Tellico Bald and Black Bald without much difficulty before reaching the well signed and blue blazed trail to the top of Rocky Bald (elev. 5080). The trail leads up the bare rock about a 1/10 of a mile to the top. This is a great place for lunch while enjoying the views from  the rocky outcrop. A nice fair weather campsite sits behind the exposed area. One day I will come back and camp there. Maybe during a nice meteor shower!

Painted Trillium.