Saturday, February 22, 2014
Flipper Bend Trail - N. Chickamauga Creek WMA State Natural Area
Flipper Bend Loop: 9.0 miles
Clear Branch Long Loop: 4.9 miles
Powerline x 2: 1.46 miles
Total Miles 15.36
Lora and I headed back to the N. Chickamauga Creek WMA State Natural Area to finish the trails in that area. We needed to finish the Flipper Bend Loop and hike Clear Branch Long Loop.
There are no longer any signs at the trailhead and the kiosk no longer has anything on it. It is sad that people feel the need to destroy things and really they get nothing out of it either.
The first leg of all the trails from the parking area to the loops is a mix of old road bed and trail. You really have to watch the trail marking to stay on the right trail as there is many old road beds and trails. When you get to the loops you will find the first sign on the trail.
Our first loop was the Flipper Bend Loop and we did it clockwise or at least tried to. We followed the trail to the powerlines and that was the end of the markings. It just ends at the powerline road with no marking to which way you are supposed to go. We searched and searched for another marking, but found none. Lora made a call and they said to just follow the powerlines East to the overlook, so we did. Just before we got to the overlook we crossed the other side of the loop trail. It actually had a trail marker on the powerline post and across the clearing on the trees.
We enjoyed the Powerline overlook and did some off trail across the top of Powerline Falls and to another overlook on the far side. This is where we ate our lunch.
After lunch we hiked back to where the trail crossed the clearing and took the top part of the trail now counter clockwise to see where we missed the markings on the far side. This section of the trail follows the Chickamauga Creek Gorge. There is a side trail that looks like a campsite which is actually the Pocket Wilderness Overlook described in the trail description. All of this section is clearly marked mainly over rolling hills. There is also a very large rock out in the middle of the forest that the trail goes by too.
When we finally came out on the powerlines again we were 0.12 mile East of where we came out of the woods on the original loop. So if you were hiking the Flipper Bend Loop going clockwise, when you get to the powerline turn East or right and go down the hill and up the other side which is about halfway between the two powerline structures. The trail then goes North or left into the woods. If you are hiking the loop counterclockwise, then when you come out on the powerline turn West or right and go 0.12 mile and turn South or left and enter the woods.
We then followed the power lines back to the overlook and continued the loop. When we came to the Clear Branch loop we took it to the Clear Branch Long loop which starts right after you cross Clear Branch. The 4.9 mile Clear Branch Loop follows the bluff line for some really beautiful views and then circles back on old roadbed through the woods. There is a sign at the beginning of the loop. We followed the trail back to the Flipper Bend access trail back to the car. It was a long but beautiful hiking day.