We get out about once a week to hike usually in central to western North Carolina. We hike slowly and stop often to enjoy the views and the little treasures that nature offers. We enjoy waterfall, river, and mountain hikes frequently visiting The Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Moutains National Park, and Pisgah National Forest.
Sycamore Cove Loop and Grassy Road Trail Hike 5/7/2011
This hike is near where 64 enters the Pisgah National Forest on the Brevard side. There are two gravel pullout areas with parking for five or six cars each past the Sycamore Flats picnic area but before the Davidson River campground. The loop trail enters the woods across from the first pullout and exits across from the second one. We parked at the second pullout and walked back to enter the trail at the first one.
The first part of the trail follows a small run which we crossed several times on interesting little bridges like the single flat rock shown here. There were wildflowers scattered along the trail. We were climbing gently uphill but I didn't even notice until Mitch mentioned it. We stopped to look for the first of many geocaches on this trail with no luck. We only found two of the ones we searched for.
After passing the first hill on the left the trail begins to climb the second hill. This section is steeper but uses switchbacks to keep it moderate. Nearing the highest point of the trail we got some some good views to the south. We hadn't heard the traffic down below but up here it was obvious that the road was beyond the next hill.
After the area with the views we rounded the hill and began a gentle descent. About ten mountain bikers passed up traveling in the opposite direction. The woods became more open and we reached the intersection with the Grassy Road Trail. Had we turned left this would have been a 3.2 mile loop but we decided to continue on the Grassy Road Trail adding a half mile of so to the walk.
The Grassy Road Trail is a mostly level grassy trail but is not a road. It looks like an old road that has been allowed to grow over. Almost immediately I spotted a single pink lady slipper in bloom at the side of the trail. While I was photographing it Mitch walked ahead and started to discover more in small groups. There were about 30 or 40 lady slippers over a few hundred feet. We didn't see them any where else on the hike.
This part of the hike is still in the woods but is somewhat more open and had a lot of ferns under the trees and flowers along the trail. We came to the intersection of the Thrifty Cove Trail and continued straight. Further down the narrow Mountain to Sea Trail exited on the right and then shortly we arrived at the spur trail on the left to take us back to the Sycamore Loop Trail.
We had been paralleling the loop trail for a while and had seen it down below at one point. Now we were on the steepest part of this hike descending to the lower trail. We rejoined the loop where a left would have taken us back on the section we had missed. We turned right and descended a switchback to a pretty run and a bridge crossing.
The last section of this hike was through a pretty cove and ended by again following a run. It seemed that we were too soon back at the road. The trail comes out almost directly across from the bridge for the Art Loeb Trail so we walked over to enjoy the Davidson River from the bridge. The hike offers a lot of variety for a reasonable amount of effort but no spectacular views or sights.