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Hike - Gregory Ridge Trail to Gregory Bald - Fri., June 23, 2017

FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2017
Depart at 7:00 a.m. from Chota Center
NOTE CHANGE IN START TIME
 
GREGORY RIDGE TRAIL TO GREGORY BALD
Distance:    11.4 miles  
Elevation Gain:   2300 feet
Rating:   Difficult
Driving Time:    Approx.  2 hrs. 10 min.
Leader:   Thom Lewis  865-458-3829  thom.lewis.8@gmail.com
 
This out and back hike turns around at one of the prettiest destinations in the park.  Gregory Bald is famous for its flame azaleas, large shrubs with beautiful orange-red clusters of flowers.  We hope the hike coincides with maximum bloom, when the Bald is alive with flame.
The trail to the Bald begins in the back of Cades Cove (we must drive the loop).  It climbs steadily and unrelievedly uphill, with the last quarter mile being as steep as any trail in the park.  The Bald is on the main spine of the Smokies, and you can feel the change in climate, so even on a warm day, bring a light jacket.  You will need it after the exertion of the climb.  As with any spectacular reward, this one takes effort.  On the way down you can congratulate yourself for seeing a special part of the park that only a hardy few can experience.

Hike - Bob Stratton Bald/Hangover - Fri., June 2, 2017

FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center
(This hike is rescheduled from May 12, 2017)
 
BOB STRATTON BALD/HANGOVER (optional)
Distance:  6 or 12 miles
Rating:   Moderate or Difficult
Driving Time:   1.5 hours
Elevation Gain:  Approx. 900 feet
Leader:  John Winn  865-824-6200   john.winn@gmail.com

 

Hike - Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte - Fri., June 9, 2017

FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 2017
Depart at 7:00 a.m. from Chota Center
NOTE CHANGE IN START TIME
 
MT. LECONTE (Alum Cave Trail)
Distance:  10 miles   
Elevation Gain:  2600 feet
Rating:  Difficult
Driving Time: 1.75 hours
Leader:  Ed Walinski  865-657-4646  edwalins1954@gmail.com
 
This route up LeConte will begin at the Alum Cave Trail parking area on US 441 toward Newfound Gap and Cherokee.  Highlights include Arch Rock, Alum Cave Bluff, LeConte Lodge and views from High Top at an elevation of 6593 feet.  The lodge also has a small store where those interested can purchase the latest t-shirt.
Please keep in mind that weather conditions at these elevations can be more extreme than at lower elevations.  Water is available at LeConte Lodge.  

Hike - Wildcat Falls - Wed., May 24, 2017

WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from the Chota Center
WILDCAT FALLS
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: Difficult
Driving Time: Approx. 1.75 hours
Elevation gain: 1000 feet
Leader: Tom Ringenbach 865-201-9014 tommamier@gmail.com
 
This hike is in the heart of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Creek Wilderness Area. One website rates Wildcat Falls among the five best waterfalls in East Tennessee. This is a six mile, in-and-out hike to reach the falls. We will descend 1000 feet in the first 1.5 miles, which means we must eventually climb back up! We will make three stream crossings going in and the same three returning. If the water is low enough, these should be rock hops, but water shoes may be advisable.
 
Note that we reach the trailhead (Big Fat Gap) via U.S. 129 (the Dragon), whose twists and turns some may find difficult on the stomach.
 

Hike - Appalachian Trail to Charlie's Bunion - Fri., May 19, 2017

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017 (RESCHEDULED FROM APRIL 7)
Depart at 7:00 a.m. from the Chota Center
NOTE CHANGE IN START TIME
CHARLIE’S BUNION
Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1640 feet
Rating: Difficult
Driving time: 2 hours
Leader: Ed Walinski 865-657-3636 edwalins1964@gmail.com
 
This challenging trail begins at Newfound Gap in Smoky Mountain National Park. The trail traverses some of the most spectacular views in the Smokies. The steady climb over the course of the first two miles will lead to distant observation of the North Carolina Smokies. Many hikers rate the next two miles as some of the most spectacular in the Smokies. This is an in and out hike. The view from the Bunion makes all the effort.
 

Hike - Bob Stratton Bald/Hangover - Fri., May 12, 2017 (MOVED TO JUNE 2)

FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2017 (MOVED to JUNE 2)
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from the Chota Center
 
BOB STRATTON BALD/HANGOVER (optional)
Distance: 6 or 12 miles
Rating: Moderate or Difficult
Driving Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: Approx. 900 feet
Leader: John Winn 865-824-6200 john.winn@gmail.com
 
Bob Stratton Bald is a classic southern mountain bald located off the Cherohala Skyway at an elevation of 5360 feet with views of the Unicoi Mountains as well as the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area. Hangover is a rocky promitory three plus rugged miles beyond Bob Stratton Bald.  It offers one of the best mountain views in all of East TN. You can see both peaks from the Tellico Parkway as you head south down the hill near Sequoyah Drive.
 
The drive up the Cherohola Skyway will take care of most of the elevation gain; however, there is one steep section on the walk to Bob Stratton Bald where we will climb about 800 feet in one mile. We will have lunch at the Bald.  After lunch we are planning for many hikers to turn around.
 
For those who may want to continue, we will have an optional extended hike to Hangover Lead, 12.3 miles round trip.  Hangover Lead is a difficult rocky hike on a ridgeline, but the view is one of the best in East TN.  You can see  the Little Tennessee River Valley from Santeetlah Lake near Robbinsville to the 411 bridge in Vonore.  The portion of Hwy. 129 known as The Dragon runs through the valley far below and the Smokies stretch out in the distance in the center of the view.
 

Hike - Porters Creek - Wed., April 26, 2017

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from the Chota Center
 
PORTERS CREEK
Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Rating: Moderate
Driving time: 90 minutes
Leader: George Zola 614-937-0767
 
It would be hard to find a better spring hike than this one. For wildflower lovers, this is it. There’s fringed phacelia, bishop’s cap, several trillium and violet species, mayapple, blue cohosh, geranium, Fraser’s sedge, toothwort and phlox. If the flowers aren’t enough, there’s Fern Branch Falls, a surprisingly high waterfall which tumbles over mossy rocks and logs.
 

Hike - Appalachian Trail to Charlie's Bunion - Fri., April 7, 2017

FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2017
Depart at 7:00 a.m. from the Chota Center
NOTE CHANGE IN START TIME
 
CHARLIE’S BUNION
Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1640 feet
Rating: Difficult
Driving time: 2 hours
Leader: Ed Walinski 865-657-3636 edwalins1964@gmail.com
 
This challenging trail begins at Newfound Gap in Smoky Mountain National Park. The trail traverses some of the most spectacular views in the Smokies. The steady climb over the course of the first two miles will lead to distant observation of the North Carolina Smokies. Many hikers rate the next two miles as some of the most spectacular in the Smokies. This is an in and out hike. The view from the Bunion makes all the effort.
 

Hike - Appalachian Trail / Sweat Heifer Creek / Kephart Prong - Wed., Mar.22, 2017

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from the Chota Center
 
APPALACHIAN TRAIL/SWEAT HEIFER CREEK/KEPHART PRONG (shuttle)
Distance: 7.4 miles
Rating: Moderate
Driving Time: 1 hr. 45 min.
Elevation gain: 800 feet
Leader: Bob & Sue Lehmann 734-497-7226 suelehmann@gmail.com
 
We’ll start this hike traveling along the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap. Many panoramic views of the Smokies pop up through gaps in the trees as you hike along this ridge. As we join Sweat Heifer Creek Trail we’ll begin a long descent with spectacular views of the North Carolina Smokies and beautiful creek pools and cascades. We’ll end the hike on Kephart prong with several footbridge crossings of the Oconaluftee River and pass the remains of a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps camp. We’ll shuttle from the Kephart Prong trailhead on Newfound Gap Road back to Newfound Gap.
 

Hike - Grapeyard Ridge / Injun Creek - Fri., Mar.10, 2017

FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from the Chota Center
 
GRAPEYARD RIDGE/INJUN CREEK (shuttle)
Distance: 7.6 miles
Rating: Moderate
Driving Time: 1 hr. 45 min.
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
Leader: Janette Pacitti 865-657-9217 jpacitti@ix.netcom.com
 
This hike will have a short shuttle. Beginning the hike on Grapeyard Ridge, we will go briefly off-trail to an old home site, spring house and cemetery. Then we will rejoin Grapeyard Ridge to pass the remains of a steam engine originally intended for sawing lumber. We will have lunch at campsite 32, then continue hiking down a beautiful man-way. The man-way follows a creek where we will view remains of home sites and see a very interesting cemetery. Off-trail might involve climbing over, under or around trees.
 

Hike - Honey Creek Loop, Big South Fork - Wed., Feb.22, 2017

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center
 
HONEY CREEK LOOP at BIG SOUTH FORK
Distance:  5.6 miles
Elevation Gain:   500 feet
Rating:   Moderate plus
Driving Time:  2 hours
Leader:   George Zola  614-937-0767  zola1029@gmail.com

Everything about the 5.6 Honey Creek Loop hike reeks of cool, including the names of the landmarks along the way.  There’s Echo Rock, Boulder House Falls, Ice Castle Falls and an enormous rock house called the Great Room.  Located at the south end of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Honey Creek Loop Trail is one of the park’s most rugged and challenging trails.  This trail offers a little something for everyone.  Although it is only 5.6 miles, hiking time will approach 5 hours due to beautiful scenery, creek crossings and boulder climbs.

Hike - Schoolhouse Gap Loop - Fri., Feb.10, 2017

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center
 
SCHOOLHOUSE GAP LOOP
(Note change in schedule.  Cove Mountain Trail is closed due to the fires.  Hopefully this hike can
be rescheduled later  this year.)
Distance:   8.9 miles
Elevation Gain:  500 feet
Rating:   Moderate
Driving Time:  1.25 hours
Leader:  Terry Nyenhuis  865-206-9476  terrynyenhuis@gmail.com
 
We’ll begin this hike 3.9 miles towards Cades Cove from the Townsend “Y” on Laurel Creek Road.  We’ll hike 1.1 miles up the Schoolhouse Gap trail, then turn left on Turkeypen Ridge trail for 3.6 miles to Laurel Creek Road.  We’ll cross the road and hike 2.8 miles on Finley Cane trail to Bote Mountain trail.  We’ll then hike this trail downhill 1.4 miles to Laurel Creek Road a short distance from where we began.  Most of the hike will be an easy walk in the woods.  There is an elevation gain of 200 feet in the first mile, then 300 feet in the first  3/4 mile of Turkeypen Ridge trail.

 

Hike - Piney River, Bowater Pocket Wilderness - Wed., Jan. 25, 2017

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from the Chota Center
 
PINEY RIVER, BOWATER POCKET WILDERNESS
Distance:   10 miles
Rating:    Moderate
Elevation Gain:   300 feet
Driving time:  1 hour
Leader:   Rick Carlin  rick0738@gmail.com  513-518-0738
 
This is an in and out hike.  The trail provides stunning natural scenery without steep ascents and descents and  follows the Piney River.  There are views of the many cascades of the river.  After 3 miles in, the trail goes over a suspension bridge and for the next 2 miles follows a narrow gauge railroad bed with the river along side.

 

Hike - Bird Mtn at Frozen Head State Park - Fri., Jan. 13, 2017

FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from the Chota Center

 
BIRD MOUNTAIN AT FROZEN HEAD STATE PARK
Distance:   8 miles
Rating:    Moderate
Driving Time:   1 hr. 15 min.
Elevation gain:  1600 feet
Leader:  John Winn   john.winn@gmail.com  865-824-6200
 
This hike affords the opportunity to explore Frozen Head State Park and its wild terrain, close by in the Cumberland Mountains.  In the Tennessee State Park system, Frozen Head is a gem.  This is a loop hike starting on the Bird Mountain Trail and returning on the Lookout Mountain Trail.  If the weather conditions are right, we should see why Frozen Head Mountain got its name.  It is often covered in frost as it is a high point in the Cumberlands.  

Hike - Jackson Bend & Morganton branches of the East Lakeshore Trail - Fri., Dec.2, 2016

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center

 
Jackson Bend and Morganton Branch of the East Lakeshore Trail (Shuttle)
Distance:  8.1 miles
Rating:  Easy  
Driving Time:  15 minutes
Leader:   Sue & Bob Lehmann  suslehmann@gmail.com  734-497-7226  

 
Jackson Bend Branch Trail:  From the Lotterdale Campground entrance road, the Jackson Bend Branch Trail extends 5.1 miles to the Peterson Road Trailhead.  This branch showcases a variety of landscapes and scenic views and includes an elevation gain of more than 200 feet.  A ¼ mile connecting trail to the map kiosk at the campground entrance provides ready access to the East Lakeshore Trail for campers.
Morganton Branch Trail:  From the Peterson Rd. Trailhead the 3-mile stretch of the Morganton Branch trail extends to the southern terminus of the East Lakeshore Trail at Wildcat Pointe Trailhead.  A variety of interesting and scenic lake views reward the hiker especially along the Baker Creek arm of Tellico Lake featuring a 140 foot boardwalk.  Before reaching Wildcat Pointe Trailhead, the trail ascends to a ridge with an elevation of approximately 200 feet above the summer lake level providing excellent views of the lake in the wintertime.  
Lunch:  For those who are interested, we are going to the Marathon Gas Station for lunch afterward.  If you haven’t been there, it’s an experience and only 10 minutes from the end of your hike!

 

Hike - Laurel Falls to Metcalf Bottoms - Wed., Nov.16, 2016

 
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2016
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center

 
LAUREL FALLS TO METCALF BOTTOMS PICNIC AREA (shuttle)
Distance:   8.1 miles
Rating:   Moderate
Driving time:  1.5 hours
Elevation Gain:   2000 feet
Leader:   Tom Ringenbach   865-201-9014   tommamier@gmail.com  

 
This is a shuttle hike.  We will drop off a couple of cars at Metcalf Bottoms.  Then proceed to Laurel Falls Trail where we will begin the hike.  We will ascend a little over 2000 feet using the Laurel Falls Trail and the Little Greenbrier Trail, then descend using the Little Brier Gap Trail and the Metcalf Bottoms Trail to the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area.  We will pass Laurel Falls, an overlook of Wears Valley, the Walker Sisters Home and the Little Greenbrier School.  

 

Hike - Dark Hollow Loop at Big Ridge State Park - Fri., Nov.4, 2016

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2016
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center

 
DARK HOLLOW LOOP AT BIG RIDGE STATE PARK
Distance:    5.5 miles
Rating:  Moderate
Driving Time:   1 hr. 15 min.
Elevation gain:   Approx. 450 feet
Leader:   Rick Carlin   513-518-0738  rick0738@gmail.com  

 
Dark Hollow Loop trail winds partially along the Norris Lake and Big Ridge Lake at Big Ridge State Park.  There is a short but steep spur that offers a beautiful overlook of Norris Lake before the trail starts a loop through a dense, beautiful forest.  We’ll complete the loop before returning to the parking area to lunch at the picnic tables.  

 

Hike - Virgin Falls - Wed., Oct.26, 2016

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2016
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center
 
VIRGIN FALLS – BOWATER POCKET WILDERNESS AREA
Distance: 11 miles
Rating: Difficult
Driving Time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 800 feet
Leader: Hamish de Wilde 860-716-4016 signal530@gmail.com
 
This trail is one of the most interesting and beautiful trails in Tennessee. It features scenic overlooks and passes by several waterfalls and cascades including Virgin Falls where the stream emerges from a cave and crashes 110 feet into a sinkhole.
 

Hike - Rich Mountain Loop - Fri., Oct.14, 2016

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2016
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center
 
 
RICH MOUNTAIN LOOP
(Note schedule change due to leader conflict. Big Ridge
State Park Dark Hollow trail rescheduled for Nov. 4)
Distance: 8.5 Miles
Rating: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1750 feet
Driving time: 1-1/2 hours
Leader: Mark Kester 201-248-7001 mkesterphd85@gmail.com
 
This is a loop hike combining three trails (Crooked Arm Ridge, Indian Grave Gap, & Rich Mountain Loop) and hiking along the ridge on the north side of Cades Cove. The hike begins near the entrance to Cades Cove. There are outstanding views of Cades Cove and Tuckaleechee Cove. We will pass and visit the John Oliver cabin.

 

Hike - Mullens Cove Loop, Prentice-Cooper Forest - Wed., Sept.28, 2016

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
Depart at 8:00 a.m. from Chota Center
 
MULLENS COVE LOOP   (Prentice-Cooper Forest/Chattanooga)
Distance:   10 miles
Rating:   Moderate
Driving time:  2 hours
Elevation Change:  300 feet; Cumulative elevation change of 1700 feet   
Leader:   Dolly Garnett   865-556-5014   dandbgarnett@charter.net

This loop is located off of the Cumberland Trail in the Tennessee River Gorge Segment,  west of Chattanooga in the Prentice-Cooper Forest.  The first part of the trail is flat and easy passing through a pleasant forest on the plateau.  The trail then descends into the forest following a creek and then continues with a series of gentle climbing and descending throughout the 10 mile loop.     Points of interest are Snoopers Rock with wide open views of the Tennessee River gorge from a large rock bluff, Mullens Cove overlook, and a natural rockhouse and stone door.