March 26, 2017
In the Pisgah 400 challenge, I come across many types of trails. On this day I saw one of the worst trails and one of the best, in a weird forest dichotomy.
I parked my car next to F.S. 5050, just outside of the North Mills Recreation Area on F.S. 1206. I had originally planned to hike Laurel Mountain, but the local forecast called for thunderstorms, and I thought it best to stay away from the peaks. It turned out to be a gorgeous day, but I was able to finish all the trails of the North Mills area.
It’s about a 1.5 mile hike up the F.S. road before the trail veers back into the woods. As pictured below, there is extensive logging taking place in this area. It was hard to find the place where Yellow Gap begins in the woods, but it is a 1/4 mile after F.S. 5050A, on the right.
The trail was pure mud due to the rain and logging and was quite ugly. Once back in the woods, it did not get much better and I was happy to end it.
Adversely, the North Mills River Trail is easy, flat and quite beautiful. There are 12 river crossings, but none of them in rapids and none more than knee deep. The map indicates that the trail ends at N. Mills, whereas, the path actually continues on to F.S. 1206 (via private property, where the owners allow hikers to walk). I originally thought I would have to hike back up Yellow Gap, but with the connector, I was glad to forgo that trail.
N. Mills is littered with enigmatic moss, hemlocks, and great camping spots. It would be a great destination for a group camp coupled with some fishing.
Total mileage is 9.03 miles.