Sunday, June 5, 2011

Big Butt Trail to Point Misery 5/29/2011

The trail head for this hike is located at the Balsam Gap Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Craggy Gardens and Mt Mitchell State Park.  The trail goes downhill from the parkway then levels out and parallels the road for a short distance.  Almost immediately we began seeing the trillium plants although most were past bloom.  This trail must have been beautiful a week ago.

Soon the trail turns away from the parkway and begins to climb to the ridge.  After a gentle uphill area there was one short steep section leading to where we began to see views between the trees.  The soil in the trail was damp but not muddy.  There was lots of sun filtering in between the trees allowing the area to be grassy.  There was no problem following this narrow trail.

There was evidence that the trail is being improved.  There were piles of timbers and rebar, new steps being formed by short pieces of timber, and some timber boxes filled in with dirt that we were puzzled by.  They didn't seem to be located where there was a need for them.  We were dismayed to see a mess of litter in one place where it appears the workers had lunch and left a bag of trash behind.

The trail continues along the ridge line with minor ups and downs  to Point Misery at about 1 3/4 miles from the parking.   There was  another short steep hill just before the point.  There were lots of flowers along the trail including a second variety of trillium at the higher elevations but again we were too late for most of the blooms.

There were flies and other insects all long the trail.  We could hear them buzzing but they weren't really bothering us.  We also saw bear scat in a couple of places.  We spent some time exploring the area around the point.  Had we continued on the trail we would have dropped steeply into a saddle before climbing Little butt but we turned back at this point.

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