Sunday, September 2, 2012
Forney Ridge Trail - Smoky Mountains
Forney Ridge Trail 5.6
Spinghouse Branch Trail 4.2
To campsite #71 9.8 miles
Forney Creek Trail 8.6
Forney Ridge Trail 1.1
To Clingmans Dome 9.7 miles
Total Miles: 19.5
Lora and I headed out for Clingmans Dome. We miscalculated our travel time so we got to Clingmans Dome at 2pm and had ten miles to hike before dark. It was 63 degrees on top and you could see for miles. We had rain on the way up, but it was clear for hiking now. There were people everywhere and we were lucky to find a spot to park in the actual parking area. Right off the start we knew it was going to be a good hike. We got to eat fresh raspberries from the sides of the trail. We saw lots of people until we got passed Andrews Bald which is a popular hike from Clingmans Dome. After that we didn't see anyone until we got to camp.
Forney Ridge is a good hiking trail. It drops 2400 feet in 5.6 miles. You get a lot of good views of the surrounding mountains. From there we took Springhouse Branch trail which you climb 200 feet and then drop 1900 feet. By the time we got to campsite #71 we were tired of going down hill. I did manage to step off the trail one time to show Lora that you don't want to do that when it drops off sharply. Always fall uphill!
There were three other groups of campers in the campground and luckily we found a site off by ourselves. We put the tent up and it started to rain. We got everything in the tent and were heading to creek to wash up when the rain stopped. That was it for the night. We had a nice campfire and looked at the stars.
We got up the next morning and after breakfast and headed up the Forney Creek Trail. We had been warned by the lady from reservations that this would be a rough trail to go up on. She was right. It is a beautiful trail with some difficult creek crossings. Lots of very slippery rocks. Lora did a dance on one of them which landed her on her butt. One wet foot, but all was well. We met one other couple on the way up.
Forney Creek goes up 3500 feet to meet Forney Ridge. The last 1700 feet are over a 2.5 mile stretch. We stopped at campsite #68 for quick bath in the creek. That sure felt good! There are actually two campsites #68. At the upper there is a two step flat slab rock cascade each about 50 feet long.
We stopped at the last water crossing for lunch. After that it was all climb. When we got to Forney Ridge we got back into the people. We ate some more raspberries on the way out. It is kind of disappointing to come out of the wood into a crowd of people. Lot's of tourist on Clingmans Dome.
Flowers we saw: Bee balm, Lobelia, Pinesap, Sunflowers, Turtleheads, Gentain, Indian Cucumber root, Jack in the Pulpit berries, and some we didn't know the names of :)