Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Armes Gap to the Frozen Head Lookout Tower--Summer Wildflower Hike

Butterfly weed along the road today

Armes Gap to the Frozen Head Lookout Tower--
Summer Wildflower Hike

Tuesday June 16, 2015

Dana Koogler solo 

Round trip distance 4.4 miles

Pictures are here starting with frame 45

Armes Gap to Frozen Head Tower Pix

Map of Armes Gap

   I had been told by a ranger several years ago that Canada lilies bloomed up in the vicinity 
of the Frozen Head Tower.   I saw the remains of lilies there one Autumn so I decided I would 
try hiking up there during the time when they should be blooming.  Maybe I'd be lucky and get to see them? I figured at the least it would be a pretty hike and not too hard.   I got an early start to avoid the blistering ninety degree heat and humidity we've been experiencing.  

     I parked at Armes Gap and crossed the road to the trail head.   It is gated.  
Note that dogs are allowed.  Hiking is allowed.  Mountain biking is allowed.  

No ATVs, Horses, gingseng diggers, are allowed.  

Seven Sisters Roses bloomed wild by where I parked my jeep.

Gate at Armes Gap Trail Head.  From here it is 2.2 miles to Tub Spring.  Then you have another 0.5 miles to the Tower.    Uphill gradually with switchbacks.  There is a side trail to the old prison mine. 

Shaded most of the way too on a Summer morning!

Black raspberries! I hadn't eaten these since I was a little girl!  We used to pick them by the bowl full and Mom would make icecream with it. The best place to pick them was Lake Wallace where we had a Summer camp!

Morning light peeping through the forest canopy.  

I saw more Indian pinkroot today along this hike than I have ever seen in one place in my life!
Hands down it gets the prize for most of this wildflower!

  The forest was filled with bird song and the drumming of one lone woodpecker.  
It smelled fresh and green and good.   The scenery is pleasant, but not anything to shout about.
It is a nice area and sees far less use than the Smoky Mountain trails.  I saw one other hiker all day.
He was just beginning as I was nearing my vehicle.   

   I climbed steadily up until I reached the next gap. It is where you find Tub Spring. It is a major intersection of three other trails.   Tub Spring campsite is nearby.  The water in the spring looked a little less yucky than the last time I took a look at it.   
Tub Spring

I rested briefly at the spring and then pushed onward. I only had half mile to go to reach the tower.   
The sun was creeping higher and illuminating the slopes above me. It was quite pretty.

I rounded the bend and began to see lilies alright. Not Canada lilies.  Pretty, but just regular day lilies.

Lots of Virginia spiderwort today too along the entire hike. 

I also saw Leather Vase Vine in several spots along the hike.  I had never seen as much of this flower in one place either!

Rounding the bend in the trail the tower came into view.  

I climbed up and sat down after awhile to have a snack and a drink.  It is very sturdily constructed.

Beautiful view out over Morgan County and the Cumberland Mountains from the top of the tower. 

 Flame azalea was in bloom at the tower site today. Not a lot of it, but some.  

Hemerocallis fulva.. day lilies galor! I did not find a single Canada lily today, but I still had a good hike.    I found lilies.. just not the kind I hoped for.  

   I hiked back and took time to go down each North Old Mac, South Old Mac and the start of the Chimneytops trail just a short distance to make certain I wasn't missing them. I don't know if they just aren't there and I got bad information. Maybe I was too early? Maybe they didn't bloom this year? Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place?  Dunno.   

    I hiked back to the jeep before it got hot and uncomfortable.   I got to spend some time in the woods. I got some fresh air, exercise and saw lots of pretty scenery and wildflowers.   I experienced Frozen Head Tower for the second time ever and the first time hiking there in Summer.  
All in all a good day.  This would be a fun hike to set a shuttle and hike up from Armes Gap and hike down Chimney Tops trail to the main grounds of the State Park in Springtime! 

 Directions to Armes Gap and the Frozen Head Summit:

From Knoxville: Take Pellissippi Parkway Hwy 140 west toward Oak Ridge. Follow it to its end where it becomes 162.. the Solway.   Stay on that until it becomes Rt. 62 through Oak Ridge.
Go through town and head toward Oliver Springs.. Stay straight through the light toward Oliver Springs.   Go over the highway... at the bottom of that ramp you'll turn right to stay on Rt. 62.
You're heading toward Frozen Head State Park , but you want to turn onto Rt. 116 for Petros BEFORE you get to the main grounds of the state park.   You'll be entering the state park thru
the back door so to speak.    

Follow Rt 116 North as it winds through the rural area past the old closed down Brushy Mountain State Prison on your left.   Armes Gap is about at the crest of the mountain.  You can park on the right or left.   the Gillotine Trail heading into Wind Rock is on the right of the gap.

The trail head to start your hike is on the left at the gate.   

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