Monday, March 12, 2012

Black Mountain Ride & Hike

Halbeard Yellow Violet

Yellow violet blooming near Saw Mill Falls

Black Mountain Area Four-Wheeling and Hiking

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Saturday March 10, 2012

35 miles total riding
2.5 miles total hiking
Pictures are here:

     Kenny & I went riding to Black Mountain as we'd hoped to do for weeks now.  I knew it would be a good time to see the waterfalls after a night's rain.  The ground is absolutely saturated.  The last time we went we got fouled up and did not see Basin Falls or Basin Rock. I hoped today would be better and we'd find it.

    We stopped off first by Ozone Falls on the way.  I had lost my video footage of Ozone Falls and was wanting to do that over.  It never fails to be a pleasure to visit.  It was roaring today and we did not encounter too much of a crowd there in this popular place.  We only saw half dozen people the entire time we were there.

     We did not tarry long since we've made many visits here before, but moved on.
We arrived at the trail head to ride and found six other vehicles here!  Everyone had the same idea.  Everyone was tickled for pretty weather to get outside and go four-wheeling.  Even with all the folks we saw and vehicles at the trail head, we were the only ones at the waterfalls!  We had the place to ourselves.  The area has thousands of acres for riding so we passed a few groups of riders. We stopped and spoke to many nice people, but for the biggest part we were on our own.

     We visited Basin Rock, Basin Falls from both sides of the gorge, and Saw Mill Falls. They were all so pretty.  It was nice to just be together.   I saw one yellow violet blooming.  I saw blooms of yellowroot shrub and that was about it for wildflowers.  The forest was beautiful and dark where the hemlock trees grow.
We are losing them in so many places that it is a special treat to be where they are thriving! It was good to get some exercise and climb around on the big boulders.  Making your way to Saw Mill Falls involves jumping from boulder to boulder. I took photos of jumping across those huge boulders with deep crevices all the way down to the ground. The photos never show how eerie it is. Either that or I'm being a big baby!

      We explored new trails we'd never seen before.  Each visit turns up something new and different.    We stopped and ate lunch in the lush green woods by a stream.    We continued on and made a big loop of our ride.

 I wanted to see some of the dramatic and rocky trails we'd visited before when we had our Grizzly.  We went down Alloway Road to the bridge and headed toward Black Mountain Summit.  It was rocky, challenging and fun!  The trails and the stream were one and the same in most places!  The rhino handled these challenging trails far better than the old Mo-Sheen.  I was really tickled.

     We made it up to Black Mountain Summit for the view. We parked and hiked the Black Mountain Crest loop trail.  We enjoyed the view for a time ,but as it was getting late in the day and we had to make the trip back we did not linger long.
The view over Grassy Cove was clear and beautiful under deep blue skies.
We passed a few people hiking the Cumberland Trail.
 We left to ride back to the truck taking some shortcuts Kenny knew of.
That made the trip not only shorter but varied the route.  I did not miss jarring down those bumpy, rocky paths the entire time.

      I dreamed of Spring wildflowers returning to Black Mountain. I hope I can get over there one day all by myself to spend as much time as I want enjoying them.
Tremendous variety of Spring flowers can be found at Black Mountain along with numerous hiking options.

       It was good to get back to the truck and head home.  Everyone else was as well.  They were packing up and leaving.  What a good day to get out and enjoy nature!

Healthy hemlock forest with sun filtering down through the canopy.

Basin Falls is down in a gorge at the edge of Basin Rock. It is about 40 ft high.

Saw Mill Falls in the early morning light.

  The summit of Black Mountain is carved with wind and water into some amazing shapes and textures!

View out over Grassy Cove from Black Mountain Summit

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