Big East Fork Trail, Shining Rock Wilderness

The winter season means that accessibility to trails is limited as most of the blue ridge parkway is closed. However, there are still some great hikes in the area that are simply beautiful, little gems in the mountains, you just have to know where to look. We decided to head out to Trail Head, which I believe is also Big East Fork Trail, it can be found in Pisgah National Forest and Shining Rock Wilderness off of U.S. 276.

This past weekend the weather was 069unseasonably warm with a clear blue sky, no clouds in sight, a soft, gentle breeze pressing its way through the trees, creating a mellow harmony of creaking branches and rustling leaves. The were sounds of a river along the trail, rushing over rocks, drowning out the sounds of other hikers and leaving the dogs full of promise for playtime. All the trees were bare, except for the rhododendrons, leaving a clear view of the bright blue sky. Tunnels lay before us, branches of rhododendrons interlocking to form a mystical archway. The sun peaked through their leaves, dancing all around us, leaving a kaleidoscope pattern on the ground.

086Serene hardly describes the picturesque scenery. There aren’t enough words to describe the peace I felt there. One of the things I love most about hiking is that it centers me, I feel calm and whole, a feeling easily lost in day to day life. This hike forced me to concentrate on the trail and focus on where I was going. It was steep in sections, which made coming back down rough on my knees. The terrain was rocky and tree roots threatened to trip me. Small creeks cut across the trail in places, testing my balance on the small rocks that 114allowed me to keep my feet dry. Sections of the mountainside never saw sunlight, leaving the ground frozen with small pockets of snow tucked into the leaves, despite the unnaturally warm weather. There were small trails that lead down to the river, water cascading over rocks, offering a great area for the dogs to play and splash around. Areas of flat land, free of trees, offered nice campsites near the river, tempting me to come back and enjoy them in warmer weather.

The trail can be completed as a ten mile loop, but with the short winter days threatening to leave us in darkness if we continued we decided it was best to turn back the way we came. Coming back was faster, with fewer stops, and definitely colder as the sun was disappearing fast below the mountains that loomed behind us.

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It was a perfect hike on a perfect day.

Happy Trails!

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