March 12, 2016
I try to keep my blog positive. I do not want to languish in the quagmire of a difficult hike, or complain of people or places. Alas, in the pursuit of hiking every trail in the Pisgah Ranger District, I am faced with hiking trails I normally would not venture upon.
The goal for the day was two (2) trails to the north of Brevard: Grassy Road Trail, and Thrift Cove Loop Trail.
Firstly, the National Geographic Map for Pisgah Ranger District (#780) is absolutely wrong on the labeling of these three trails. I parked my car at the Pisgah Ranger Station and walked to F.S. 5061. I turned north and walked along the F.S. for maybe a ¼ mile. Mistake #1: I walked upon a bifurcation in the trail. Right (west) is a sign for Thrift Cove Loop, left (north) was Black Mountain Trail. Unfortunately, the map says that right was F.S. 5061 and left was both Black Mountain and Thrift Cove.
I went right, since my goal was Thrift Cove Loop, and ¼ past the juncture was another surprise. Mistake #2: There are two (2) trails, that are not located on the map: Starens & Staamns Branch Trail. Even the Carolina Mountain Club site does not name these trails.[i] But, there is certainly a marker present. I hiked up and down both sides of Starens & Staamns Branch, which connects Sycamore Cove Loop, Thrift Cove and Black Mountain.
When I came back from Starens, I discovered the 3rd mistake. Grassy Road Trail is actually also F.S. 5061A. This trail is very easy, and only 1 mile long, where it connects with Sycamore Cove Loop.
The rest of Thrift Cove Loop was a relatively moderate climb up a former logging road. The bad part of the hike was sharing the trail with mountain bikers, since it is dual-use. Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with mountain bikers. I really get along well with them. There’s just something unnerving about contemplating the complexities of nature, or admiring a flower, then having the bejesus scared out of you as someone comes down the trail at 25 m.p.h., screaming “Coming Through.” Now, federal law dictates that on dual-use trails, bikers must yield to hikers. Practical application dictates that my white tail jumped out of the way rather quickly.
After two miles, I finished Thrift Cove Loop, where it intersects with Black Mountain Trail. I will say that there is a rather glorious camping spot, on what presumably must have been a home site from days of yore.
I finished by hiking the two (2) miles back to the Jeep on Black Mountain Trail.
Total mileage is 9 miles.