November 5, 2017
Bradley Creek Trail is fun. An out-and-back from Turkey Pen Gap covers 12 miles and 28 creek crossings (the 14 crossings are pictured below). Fall foliage was in its late season splendor as orange and red danced brilliantly in the sun from the canopy of the forest. Surprisingly, the water was not that cold, given that it is early November.
The trail does not have much of an elevation change, only 1,362 ft. (681 ft. one way); and it’s certainly difficult to get lost on the trail. Operating under the basic principle that if you don’t cross a creek/river every couple of hundred yards, you’re lost.
The trickiest part of the trail is finding the northern terminus on Yellow Gap Road. Both my GPS and map indicated that it was not the campground, but instead it was a short, sharp uphill series of steps. There was no trail marker at the top, only a yellow “no camping” sign. I decided to venture over to the campground via a manway. Had a great conversation with Roger, a guy from Winston-Salem up for the day to trout fish.
I thoroughly enjoyed the hike back, since I knew none of the crossings would be above my thighs (as a note of caution: I wouldn’t under any circumstances hike this trail after a large storm, that would be nuts). In my zoned out bliss, I plodded along quite quickly. At the junction of Riverside Trail and Bradley, I spotted a huge brown mass through the rhododendron thicket 10 feet away, followed immediately by a huge stamp on the ground. Reacting quickly, albeit sheepishly I yelled, “Oh, Shiiiiiit!” For the life of me I thought a huge bear was rushing me. Seconds later it became clear that it was a huge, brown horse. The rider was leading a group of people on the trail, many of whom were children. “I was going to holler ‘horses’, but you hollered first.” “If you don’t mind, I’m going to let y’all pass, so I can collect myself,” I responded. I tipped my hat and quickly apologized for my language as the kids passed. I can still hear that leader’s laughter as he made his way up the trail.
Total mileage is 12 miles.