Monday, May 23, 2011

Cove Creek and Caney Bottom Loop Hike 5/21/2011

The parking for this hike is across from the gated gravel road for the Cove Creek group camping area in the Pisgah National Forest.  Before beginning the loop we took the short little trail on the left side of the parking a couple hundred feet to a small waterfall and swimming hole.  Returning to the parking we crossed the road and walked up the campground access road.

The gravel road makes two low water crossings but there are short side trails with foot bridges at each.  Almost immediately we began seeing wildflowers including pink lady slippers.  The road climbed a hill  beside a waterfall that could be scrambled down to.  We passed a trail head just before reaching the first clearing for campsites but did not take the trail here.

The road passes a cleared area, goes through a small wooded area, then through a second clearing.  Between the two clearing is a waterfall that makes a good sliding rock with a pool at the bottom.  As we were ending our hike later in the day we could hear a group of young campers enjoying the water.  At the end of the second clearing we took the trail with a sign saying to Caney Bottom.

This section is through fairly thick woods with few flowers blooming.  There are flat sections with small stream crossings on log bridges, some muddy spots, and some elevation gains.  The trail isn't really steep or strenuous.  One of the bridges had some rotten logs but  two of the logs were still solid.  The trail passes by the top of a pretty falls that I wasn't able to get a good picture of.

After the falls there was a short rough section then the trail passed through a flat area that was more open.  We followed this trail to the signed intersection with the Cove Creek trail.  We turned left on the Cove Creek trail which passes through a more open area.  There was a grassy meadow on the right and a lot more flowers along the trail. 

At the next intersection we turned left and made a couple more water crossing.  There were a couple of trees down across the trail but mostly this was a very clean and well maintained trail.  We had not been hiking near the creek but could hear it down below at times.  The trail came closer to the creek and there was a side trail with a sign for Cove Creek Falls.

This side trail was the most difficult part of the hike but also the most rewarding.  It leads down to the creek at the top of the falls.  We went straight ahead to view the creek at the top of the fall and then backtracked about fifty feet and took the trail to the base of the falls.  Although the trail is steep it is not dangerous and would be suitable for children with supervision.  We found a geocache in a small rock cave near the bottom and had a picnic lunch at the base of the falls.  We had seen two people leaving the falls as we were going down but didn't see anyone while we had lunch.  We only saw one other person on the trails although there were many people in the camping area and on the access road.

I spotted a number of interesting mushrooms in the woods on this hike.  After passing the falls we began to see my favorite flowers, the lady slippers again.  The loop hike ends at the first trail head that we passed just before the campsite clearing.  This four mile hike has no mountain top views but it is a very nice woods walk with a lot of variety for the amount of effort.

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