Fire Pink along the Twin Rocks Overlook Trail
Twin Rocks Overlook and Piney River Trails
Dana Koogler solo hike
Tuesday March 19, 2012
Total miles hiked =4
Pictures are here:
I woke early Tuesday morning and drove out to Spring City to hike the Twin Rocks Nature Trail and part of the Piney River Trail. I have made many trips to this area with hiking clubs, my kids, Kenny, and other friends. Lots to do and see.
Spring City is a town on the Eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau on Walden's Ridge. Nearby hikes for this area include Stinging Fork Falls, Upper and Lower Piney Falls, Laurel-Snow Pocket Wilderness, and the Cumberland Trail.
I was the first car in the parking lot and hiked out to the Twin Rocks Overlook first. It was a nice easy hike with a climb to the ridge line then the trail runs more or less level most the way and then makes one last small climb. Before I knew it I could see the outline of the rails on the caged ladders.
I climbed up to enjoy the view and stuck around a little while to explore the rock formations. The day was warm with a nice breeze and lots of sunshine and blue skies. The first part of the trail had a few wildflowers, but the drier pine ridge up top only had trailing arbutus and a few halbeard leaf yellow violets.
The early Spring green leaves and red buds on maples were pretty to see as well.
In the distance I could hear the whistle of the freight train and the rumble as it passed down in Spring City. I was never out of earshot of Piney River roaring by.
Sarvis berry trees bloomed fluffy and white atop the ridge. Down on the lower portion of the trail I passed several yellow buckeye trees in bright yellow bloom.
One of the caged ladders to reach Twin Rocks Overlook
View from the Twin Rocks Overlook
I hiked back to join the Piney River Trail and headed out along it to see what was blooming this time of year? I had heard from someone that you really need to hike it twice in Spring to get the full measure of just how rich it is with wildflowers. I believe that after today! In March the rocky cliffs are laden with spring beauties, trout lilies, chickweed, rue anemone, fiddlehead ferns, long spurred violets and blue violets. April is trilliums and gaywings, nodding mandarin, and wild oats. The recent, ample rains had the rocky cliffs echoing like a parabolic mike with the roar of the river and dripping with their own mini waterfalls! The hemlock forest here is healthy and thus far untouched by the hemlock wooly adelgid blight. The hemlocks shelter these tender flowers from the sun allowing them to bloom longer for they like the cooler temperatures and moist conditions. The warm temperatures this Spring had many of the trout lilies past peak bloom by the time I hiked here.
Deep gloom along the Piney River Trail is owed to the hemlocks.
I walked out about a 1 1/2 miles and the trail continued to be dry pine woods mostly without the wildflowers I was hoping to see so I turned around. I decided to do some exploring the spur trails I'd passed. One went up the bank and was more dry pine woods without anything good to see. The other went left and down along the river! More wildflowers and new views of the river and the site of an old bridge! Now this was more like it. I ambled around the banks of the river and found geese nesting and found a couple campsites. It was beautiful!
Old bridge site
Layers of wildflowers and moss
Trout Lily closeup
I returned to my jeep and just took my time soaking up the fresh air and the sights. I found that the dude I'd seen out there was still sitting on his butt texting on his cell phone and laughing. If I ever find myself getting like that I'll chuck my cell phone in the river.