Sunday, July 20, 2008

North Chickamauga hike

Nice view
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
Yesterday we hiked the North Chickamauga trail near Chattanooga. It was formerly owned by Bowater, a paper company that developed some of its land into "pocket wildernesses," before Bowater donated it to the state to make up part of the Cumberland Trail.

The trail starts off at the level of North Chickamauga Creek and heads very steeply up. Then the elevation moderates, and the trail rolls gently up and down for a bit, while scenic bluffs line the right side of the trail. A ladder climbs up the bluffs and the trail truly levels off on an old mining road. Then there is another ladder, going back down, and the trail loses all the elevation it gained to get back down to the creek and a swimming hole. The trail continues on .5 miles further to a campsite, but we stopped at the swimming hole.

For some reason we found this trip to be more difficult than anticipated. My guidebook and an old map say that the trail is 3.9 miles to the campsite; the sign at the trailhead says it's 4.5. The guidebook also says it gains about 700 feet of elevation one way, while my altimeter said it was over 900. But none of these figures make it more difficult than the Walls of Jericho hike of a few weeks ago, yet it felt much harder. Perhaps it's because the elevation gain is concentrated in two very steep climbs. (I should say three of the four of us found it difficult; the college athlete/summertime trail worker had no difficulty at all.)

It didn't help that there were a lot of yellow jackets out. Aimee was stung three times and Joe twice. They really seemed drawn to Aimee, and Joe was stung when he was near her.

Despite this, it was a beautiful hike. It probably would be beautiful in every season. Now in the summer, it's lush and the swimming hole is very refreshing. In fall the colors would be out, and in winter, with the leaves gone, the views would be amazing. I'm sure there are wildflowers in spring, and the waterfalls would also be much more impressive.

If you want more pictures, you can see Joe's here, and mine by clicking on the photo at left.


lutheranchick said...

What's a "pocket wilderness?"

turducken said...

I think Bowater just made the term up. They used it to refer to their private land they weren't logging but instead were keeping open to the public. (And not just not keep people away - they developed trails and actively encouraged visitation.)