Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pretty Hollow Gap Trail Cataloochee Valley May 13,2011

We were looking for an easy afternoon hike after setting up at the camping area so we decided to take this trail along side Palmer Creek.  The trail head is between Palmer Chapel and the Beech Grove school.  The gate was open but not knowing when it would be closed we parked at the trail head.  The first .2 mile to the horse camping area are on a well graded road.

The creek remains right beside the trail and is full of small cascades.  The trail seems to be level but it must be slightly uphill for the creek to be running.  After the horse camp the trail becomes more trail like but is still obviously an old road.  Flowers and berry bushes grow along the sides.  At one point the trail climbs about fifty feet above the creek.

There were frequent short  trails to the creek edge.  At every point there was something to see whether it was bluets growing at the waters edge, mossy rocks, or cascades.  At one point a tree had fallen at the water level creating a natural dam.  As we were leaving this spot a mother and two children arrived to fish in the hole above the tree.  Beyond this point we didn't pass any other hikers.

At .8 miles the Little Cataloochee trail exits on the right.  We chose to continue along the creek and went straight ahead.  At one point it looked like we were leaving the main creek and following a smaller run but we soon discovered that the creek had split and come back together forming a sort of island.  We began to hear thunder in the distance.

At 1.6 miles we came to the intersection of the Palmer Creek trail.  We crossed the single log bridge at the beginning of this trail but did not venture further as the thunder was continuing to threaten   There are many of these bridges in the valley area.  The logs are solid but some of the handrails are in need of repair.  This looked like a really pretty trail but will have to wait for another trip.

The trail system in this area is well signed and easy to follow.  They are also really clean with no litter although the horses from the nearby camp have left some evidence of their presence.  There were no obstacles such as fallen trees or large rocks and there is no need to get wet feet.  The rain started when we were nearing the van and we got a little wet but the hike was worth it.

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