November 8, 2017
This was the last hike in the South Mills River area of the Pisgah Ranger District. I’ve saved it for last, as I did not want to hike it in the summer. Known for being a breeding ground for copperheads, the trail meanders for 3.5 miles besides the South Mills and Bradley Creek. It’s nice trail with 8 total river/creek crossings (pictured below), and only 617 ft. of ascent from Turkey Pen Gap.
I did not have to deal with any snakes, but the converse was dealing with the frigid temperature of the water crossings. It was 42 degrees when I left the car, the sky was overcast, and rain very gently started to fall. The first crossing was by far the hardest. The water came up to my thighs and moving along rapidly. I slipped a quarter of the way across, barely balancing myself steady with my trekking poles. One more second and I would have plunged headlong into the river.
The other crossings were generally calf deep, and after a while I grew use to the water, such that it no longer shocked my system. Once I rounded the halfway mark and headed back west to the northern terminus, the trail opens up into a wider forest style road. I took in the wonderful solitude of the forest in that moment; I would bet that there was not another person in a ten mile radius: just myself and the rain.
Total mileage is 7.27 miles.