Sunday, March 10, 2013
Charit Creek Trail 1.0 Miles
Hatfield Ridge Trail 6.8
Charit Creek Overlook 1.4
DAY ONE: 9.2
Station Camp Creek Trial 4.3
Charit Creek Trail 1.0
Black House Branch Trail 4.4
DAY TWO: 9.7
TOTAL MILES: 18.9
Back to Big South Fork for another weekend backpack. To add a little excitement to our hike, we did some off trail adventures in search of natural arches found on our Tennessee Land Forms Link.
We started at the Charit Creek trailhead which has been moved since the book and map have been printed. It is now 0.2 miles back up the road where they built a horse trailer parking lot and a hiker parking lot and gated the road.
You pass the Fork Ridge trailhead and the trail starts at the back of the old parking spot. This trail is also now part of the Sheltowee Trace. The trail drops down a ladder and follows the creek down to Charit Creek Lodge. We left the trail and climbed back up to the rock bluff wall. Near the end of the wall we found Bob's Arch which is 12' x 10'. At the bottom is another opening that goes all the way through. It was 1' x 6'. We then hiked the trail down to the lodge. Behind the lodge we picked up the Hatfield Ridge Loop trail and headed uphill. On the map it is labeled as the Charit Creek Lodge Connector trail. We left this trail in search of the 25' x 30' Hatfield Ridge arch which we did not find. After further study, I feel we started too low on the hill side and even though we climbed up another level we should not have left the trail until you see the large rock formations at the top of the climb.
By now we had a pretty good work out in and decided to abandon our further searches for arches and just hike the trail. We took the side trail to the Station Camp Creek (Charit Creek) overlook. It had a wonderful view of the valley and an aerial view of Charit Creek Lodge. We then headed back to the Hatfield Ridge trail and hiked down to the end of the ridge.
The trail circles around the end of the ridge with some views of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. The trail now joins the John Muir trail and we made camp at an existing campsite on Station Camp Creek. We had a warm campfire and saw the stars in between the clouds. We got to hear an owl and I scared some large critter off when I went for more water after dark.
The next morning we got up and headed up stream on the Station Camp Creek trail. They have made some changes and rerouted the trail / roadbed to avoid creek fording. We were let down as we are always looking forward to some old fashion foot washing. We stopped at the Hatfield Cemetery and also at the pond that was dammed up by a beaver. You could see some fresh cuttings as we removed one from the trail. When we got back to the lodge we took the Charit Creek trail back to the car. We scared five deer on our climb out.
We swapped to day packs and hiked back to the Fork Ridge Trailhead and took it to the Black House Branch trail. This follows the new Sheltowee Trace trail across to Jack's Ridge Loop trail. We made a steep decent down to the creek crossings. We crossed the Black House Branch three times and the Laurel Fork once before we started up the other side of the gorge. This is also where the Laurel Fork Creek trail crosses. On the way up there is a very large rock laying next to the trail and also a really impressive rock house to check out. After we got to the Jack's Ridge Loop trail we turned around and hiked back to the car. The creeks had not warmed up since the first trip across.
Another good hike and workout.