Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hiking the Boone Fork Trail

Back in July I was at a Sunday School picnic at Julian Price Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains when a friend told me about this awesome loop trail that started at the park.  Feeling adventurous, we went off to hike a small portion of this trail.  We didn't have time to do the whole thing, but the experienced served as a catalyst that sparked my interest in hiking.  I promised myself I would be back to hike the entire length of this trail.

Since this trail is fairly rugged and I had not hiked anything before, I decided to tackle some smaller trails in the area first, starting with the Price Lake Trail, and then the Green Knob Loop.  These trails proved to be good training for today's adventure.

Since winter is soon going to hit the mountains which would make hiking much more difficult, and I had an extra vacation day saved up, I decided it was about time I tackled this trail.  So I took the day off work, headed up into the mountains, and conquered the Boone Fork Trail.

View Boone Fork Trail in a larger map

Boone Fork Trail is by far the longest trail I've hiked, and the most rugged.  At 4.9 miles, it is 2x longer than the longest hike I have attempted so far.  This trail is also the most interesting trail I have been on, and seems to have a bit of everything that one expects from being in the Blue Ridge Mountains: close rhododendron forests, wide mountain meadows, creeks with waterfalls, rocky formations, and rugged, wild deciduous forests.

Starting at Julian Price Park, the first part of the trail is a dried up lake bed, which quickly leads to Boone Fork Creek. For the next mile or so it follows the creek, leading through rhododendron forests and arriving at an amazing ravine with small waterfalls.  This is where I ate lunch.  

The trail then heads up the ravine wall and starts to crisscross over Bee Tree Creek at least a dozen times.  Eventually this gives way to a beautiful high mountain meadow with a nice view of the back side of Grandfather Mountain.  After this it heads down hill into a camp ground area, and finally arrives back at Julian Price Park to complete the loop.  

I would highly recommend this trail to anyone who is looking to experience the Blue Ridge Mountains, but be warned it is not for the light hearted.  According to my GPS I spent 3:03 hours hiking the trail, including stops for pictures and lunch.  My moving time was 2:02, which means it takes about 2 hours to finish the trail without any stops.  I would highly recommend taking your time to enjoy the views - they are worth it.