August 27, 2013

Sweet Trails and Great Eats

Do hikers love to eat?   Who wouldn't after burning all those calories?  The most commonly asked question from any day hiker after a good day's trek is, "where are we eating?"  Unlike backpackers (hikers who camp on the trail overnight), day hikers don't have to fuss with all that freeze-dried food or cans of vienna sausages not to mention scavenging for firewood.  

Hikers are always looking for a great meal at a bargain price!  You know those quick dry clothes and hiking boots aren't cheap!  Let's save hiking gear for another day and head to the nearest restaurant. 

Today's special is two for one:  beautiful trails and tasty restaurants!

Glen Falls and The Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe near Chattanooga, Tennessee 

Located in the Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Point Park,  Glen Falls is actually in Georgia. You can hike to the falls from one of two trailheads--both in Tennessee:  Ochs Highway or by starting on the Guild Trail at Ruby Falls.  Here is a map of the trails. 

A great place to eat located by the Incline Railway. Here is the Purple Daisy's website.

Don't miss the Rainbow sandwich, chips, and banana pudding.  

Miller Trek at Brasstown Valley Resort and Michaelee's Chocolate Caffe in Hiawassee, Georgia 

Located at Brasstown Valley Resort, the 6.5-mile trail takes you into the Chattahoochee National Forest.  Along the way, you will encounter a hardwood forest that contains Tuliptree, Red Maple, White Oak, and Black Locust trees.  Here is more information on the trail. 

After an invigorating hike on the Miller Trek, head east to the town of Hiawassee for Michaelee's Chocolate Caffe in the Timberlake Village shopping center.  Don't miss the Grilled Chicken Chocolate Wrap. You won't regret it.   Here is more information on Michaelee's.
Be sure to indulge in a chocolate dessert or take home a few truffles! 

DeSoto State Park and Wildflower Cafe near Fort Payne, Alabama

Located on Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne, Alabama, DeSoto State Park has over 25 miles of hiking trails, including 11+ miles of mountain bike trails.  Here is more information. 

After you get through hiking at DeSoto State Park, be sure to stop at the Wildflower Cafe in Mentone.   Featured in Southern Living, the cafe has delicious food that is decadent and hardy or healthy and organic with gluten free and vegan options.  My personal favorite is the Tomato Pie. Here is more information.

Greeter Falls in the Savage Gulf Recreation Recreation Area and Papa Ron's Italian Steakhouse near Monteagle, Tennessee

Greeter Falls is located in the South Cumberland Recreation Area.   Here is more information. 

The 0.8-mile Greeter Falls Loop Trail leads to four waterfalls, numerous bluffs, and two historic sites.  Terrain is very rocky under the bluffs and easy above. 

The bread is delicious, but be sure to save room for some great Italian food.  Here is Papa Ron's website. 

I'm sure you are wondering if it's rude to apply your lipstick at the table after the meal is finished.  Miss Manners says you should excuse yourself and go to the ladies room where there is appropriate lighting and large mirrors. Etiquette is based on consideration for others and don't do something which might be viewed by others as offensive. Good information to know so you can Keep On Hiking! 

August 25, 2013

State Parks: Safety In Numbers

For women hikers safety is of utmost importance and this is one of the reasons I love to hike at state parks. Park rangers are nearby to call in case of emergency, well-marked and maintained trails prevent getting lost, and easy to read, color-coded maps normally correspond with trail blazes.  For safety reasons, I recommend a minimum of four people for any hiking excursion. In case of emergency, two can go for help, and two can stay on the trail.

Georgia has 66 state parks and historic sites from marshes to mountains and from waterfalls to lakes. Fifty of the sites are operated by the Department of Natural Resources, providing outdoor recreation while protecting Georgia's natural beauty and historic integrity. All parks require a $5 parking fee, or you can purchase a $50 annual parking pass which is good for 12 months from date of purchase (senior and military discounts available).  Here is more information on Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites.

Below are some of my favorite state parks and hiking trails.

Cloudland Canyon State Park near Rising Fawn 

Established in 1938, Cloudland Canyon is located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain in Dade County. 

The newly reopened Bear Creek Backcountry Trail offers beautiful views from the eastern rim and may be hiked by permit only.

This is one of the most scenic parks in the state, offering rugged geology and beautiful vistas. 

Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth

High atop Fort Mountain are the rocky ruins of an ancient stone wall with prehistoric origin steeped in legend. Generations of archaeologists and historians have unsuccessfully sought to unravel the riddle of the wall.  More than 150 years after its discovery, there are still no answers as to who built the wall, when, and for what purpose. 

The Gahuti Trail travels around the edge of the park, passing just below the summits of both Cohutta and Fort mountains.

The Gahuti Trail is both beautiful and challenging in all seasons.  

Red Top Mountain State Park near Cartersville 

Red Top Mountain State Park is a very popular park located on 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona. More than 15 miles of hiking trails wind through the park providing opportunities for exercise and exploring. 

The 5.5-mile moderate Homestead trail begins at the front porch of the park's Visitor Center.  

The loop portion of the Homestead Trail follows the Allatoona lakeshore for approximately 2.25 miles and is named after one of several homesteads located in the area. 

Sweetwater Creek State Park near Lithia Springs 

Sweetwater Creek State Park is a conservation park which opened in 1976 and encompasses 2,549 acres of land 15 miles west of Atlanta.   It is a great place to escape the big city, and in my opinion a hidden jewel! 

The Red Trail is the recommended hike for first-time visitors and takes you alongside the white-water rapids of Sweetwater Creek and to the New Manchester mill ruins pictured below. 

The New Manchester mill ruins are a remnant of a mid-nineteenth century mill town which met its demise during the Civil War.

Always remember, there is safety in numbers and these beautiful Georgia State Parks will help you Keep on Hiking.

August 18, 2013

Six Favorite Tennessee Waterfalls

Who doesn't love waterfalls?  While there are roads to the more notable ones, hiking is often required to view some of the lesser known, but equally stunning cascades.

For me, the anticipation of hiking to a waterfall has always paid off with spectacular results. The waterfalls listed here are in the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee.  Some are in state parks and are, therefore, a little easier to access; however, some require a hike!  Here are some of my favorite Tennessee waterfalls.

Cane Creek Cascades located in Fall Creek Falls State Park near Pikeville.
The park offers a variety of day-use trails that provide access to some of the park's loveliest areas including awesome gorges and waterfalls.  The Woodland Trail starts behind the Nature Center and crosses these cascades by way of a swinging bridge. 

Cane Creek Falls

All surface water in the park eventually pours into Cane Creek.  Its cascades (first photo)  have worn down the rocks of Cane Creek falls which is 85 feet high. The Gorge Overlook Trail offers overlooks of the falls. 

Fall Creek Falls

At 256 feet, Fall Creek Falls is the highest waterfall in the eastern United Sates.  Fall Creek Falls Sate Park is a paradise of more than 25,000 acres, sprawled across the western top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau.   There is a steep trail to the bottom of the falls. Here is more information on the park which is laced with cascades, gorges, waterfalls, and streams. 

Imodium Falls near Soddy Daisy 

Located in the Three Gorges Segment, Possum Creek Section, of the Cumberland Trail, it is a 9-mile difficult hike to the picturesque Imodium Falls.  Here is more information on this segment of the Cumberland Trail. 

Savage Falls located in the Savage Gulf Sate Natural Area near Monteagle

The Savage Gulf State Natural Area is one of Tennessee's most scenic state outdoor recreation areas.  The easy Savage Day Loop Trail gives the hiker a variety of features including overlooks of Savage Falls and access to several of the longer backcountry trails.  Here is more information on Savage Gulf. 

Burgess Falls near Sparta
The main 1.5-mile round trip river trail is moderately strenuous and takes you past four water falls on the Falling Water River.  Here is more information on Burgess Falls State Natural Area. 

As I explore more of the Volunteer State, this list of six waterfalls is sure to grow. Do you have a favorite you'd like to share.

Until next time, don't go chasing waterfalls, and Keep On Hiking!

August 11, 2013

Top Five Favorite Hiking Trails

Welcome to my first-ever blog! I hope you’ll enjoy “traveling” with me on my hiking adventures.

Along the way, I’ll explain how I got hooked on hiking, and why I recommend it to others—especially women of a certain age like me who wish to get or stay active, make new friends, and enjoy the bountiful natural beauty of our many parks and wilderness areas.

I’m an avid day hiker and love the anticipation, exhilaration, and therapeutic aspects of being in nature, even in the extreme temperatures of summer or winter.  Both seasons have their advantages, especially the beautiful vistas of winter and the gorgeous green shade of summer.

My favorite hikes include mountain tops, rivers, waterfalls, and scenery too dramatic for words. It’s tough picking favorites, but here are my “top five:” 

Number five:  The John Muir Trail along the Hiwassee River near Reliance, Tennessee.

The Childers Creek trailhead is a good place to start your hike. 

The river contains more species of fish than the entire Colorado River watershed.

This trail makes for a beautiful hike in the Fall.  Here is more information on the John Muir Trail along the beautiful Hiwassee River in Tennessee. 

Number four:  Blood Mountain near Suches, Georgia.

Blood Mountain is named after a native American battle (pre-white settlers) that was so vicious, the mountain ran red with blood, or so the story goes........

A beautiful vista awaits at the summit of Blood Mountain which is 30 miles from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain.  It is the second highest peak in Georgia, and the highest in Georgia on the Appalachian Trail.  See here for more information on  hiking in the Blood Mountain Wilderness Area.  

Number three:  Walls of Jericho (Jackson County, Alabama) near Hytop.

The Walls of Jericho tract, purchased by the State of Alabama's Forever Wild Land Trust in 2004,  was made possible with the help of The Nature Conservancy.

In the late 1700's, Davy Crockett explored the area since his family owned land there.  A traveling minister came upon the Walls of Jericho in the late 1800's and was so captivated by the cathedral-like beauty that he declared it needed a biblical name and the name stuck. (Photograph courtesy of Beth Hemann.)

The Walls of Jericho is perfect for photographers.  Some unique flowers and trees include the yellow lady slipper, pink lady slipper, showy orchid, nodding trillium, smoke tree, yellow buckeye, and basswood.  Here is more information on the Walls of Jericho. (Photograph courtesy of Beth Hemann.)

Number two:  Little Hump and Big Hump Mountain on the Appalachian Trail in the Roan Highlands, North Carolina.

The hike from the Roaring Creek trailhead to the summit of Big Hump Mountain is a 9.2-mile "in and out hike" (round trip)  and is one of the best hikes for long range views that you can find. Here is more  information on locating the Roaring Creek trailhead. (Photograph courtesy of Beth Hemann.)

The summit of Big Hump Mountain is a great place to enjoy lunch and soak in the beautiful vista.  A friendly deer wanted to share lunch. (Photograph courtesy of Beth Hemann.)

The trail to Big Hump Mountain requires great stamina and endurance, but it is well worth the hike. Here is more information on hiking at Roan Mountain.  (Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin.)

Number one:  House O’ Dreams atop Lavender Mountain located on the campus of Berry College near Rome, Georgia.

Martha Berry's impressive mountaintop retreat built in 1922 by Berry students and staff as a gift to Miss Berry on the 20th anniversary of the school.  Here is more history on the House O' Dreams.  (Photograph courtesy of Leigh Callan.)

The Outhouse O' Dreams, designed and built in 2011 by the 1961 college class in honor of their 50th reunion. 

Goldfish pond is part of beautifully maintained gardens. (Photograph courtesy of Leigh Callan.)

Beautiful waterlilies atop the goldfish pond. 

Mountain Day, celebrated the first weekend in October, commemorates the birthday of Martha Berry, and the gardens are ablaze with colorful chrysanthemums.   Here is information about recreational use privileges at Berry College.  

I hope you've been inspired and motivated by my first-ever blog showcasing my "top five" favorite hikes.  Until next time, Happy Trails!