100+ miles of the Appalachian and Virginia Creeper Trails


So I started my Hiking season this year with plan to do a section of the Appalachian Trail and nearby connecting trails starting in Tennessee and heading up thru Virginia. Its been a wonderful experience so far I have enjoyed the beauty of the trail, hearing coyotes and screech owls, and seeing deer, and the wild ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park. I have enjoyed overcoming the physical and mental challenges of the trail and finding that I could accomplish and push myself far more than I ever thought. I have really been thrilled by how close knit the hiking community is and how we all look after and encourage each other and meeting people from all over the USA as well as Germany, France, England, Scotland, and Canada. Below are some photos from the first hundred miles. First is overlooking Watagua lake from the AT one of the prettiest views I had on the trail was sunrise from high above the lake. Fog completely covered the lake below but along the shore you could see the lights from the marinas along the shore it was a magical moment.

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Watagua lake seen from the AT

Next is Damascus Virginia and shots from along the Virginia Creeper Rails to Trails Hiking Path (the virginia creeper is a flowering vine but the trail takes its name from the railroad because it took so long for the train to creep over the mountains from North Carolina it was named the virginia creeper) The trail runs 34 miles from Abingdon to Mt Rogers Station in Virginia. I hiked mostly between Damascus and Mt Rogers Station. The trail is amazingly beautiful running alongside Laurel Creek and crossing it numerous times on the old railroad trestles. It is wooded at first then gives way to more open farmland and has some historic stations one is converted to a great cafe and the other at Green Cove Station is a museum.

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The next few scenes are from the hike up and over White Top Mountain which I did on a windy cold and foggy day it was surreal and an amazing experience camping at the top at over 5000 feet and waking to a clear sunrise after hearing the coyotes howling in the night:

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Greeting the sun outside my wenzel tent

The next section covers from Grayson Highlands State Park to Atkins Virginia

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started out cold at Grayson Highlands State Park

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view makes you feel as if you are hiking on the roof of the world or at least virginia

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thank you fellow hiker “sunrise” for taking this photo

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wild ponies in the park

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highest mt in the background is whitetop where i camped days before

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comers creek falls virginia

had to get off trail for a few days to nurse an injured ankle following are pics from Laurel Run Park in Churchhill tennessee where i did a test hike to make sure am ready to get back on trail beautiful park with views waterfalls

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Waterfall & Walking Trails


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Above is the Watauga River behind Wilson Dam. It was a perfect spot and scene that just says peaceful. It was taken in May near Elizabethton TN in the Wilson and Watauga Dam Recreation Areas. Nice picnic and fishing areas where the Appalachian Trail crosses Wilbur Dam Road. There is a unique little waterfall as Little Laurel Creek (not to be confused with Laurel Run Falls that I wrote about last week) pours into the lake.

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The scenery is beautiful and makes for a great day to take a short drive through the area on a pretty road that follows the river

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If your in the mood for a longer hike you can hop on the AT and walk as long as you want just keep an eye out for bears in the area (the sign was put up after a bear went into a occupied tent the occupant was fine the bear was removed it had some sort of illness injury)

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Laurel Run Falls Hike


This is a fun trail and a good training one you can connect into the Bays Mt trail and hike 15 miles on it but I didn’t do that today. I am proud because it is steep 1200′ elev gain in 1 mile, rocky, roots, and stream crossings so its good for people who want to gain more experience hiking and you get to see a couple of little waterfalls along the way. Laurel Run Park is very nice the staff are friendly and put a huge amount of effort into trail maintenance the past year and drainage, trail width and surface, and blaze and trail signage are awesome. It is like hiking a trail now in previous years it was wet enough to be like hiking up a creek lol.

Here is the little falls water levels were very low.

And my meditation spot at the end and the Holston R. where Lauren Run flows into. The park has picnic areas ballfields disc golf and fishing along the Holston.

 

Scenes from the Tennessee Mountains


Scenes from Warriors Path State Park

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Being in nature always restores my soul. I love the happy light heartedness of the doe with twin fawns, the ancient timelessness of the mountains and the cool serenity of the mountain lakes with their amazing shades of blue and green water.

Flowers in the Mountains


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I have lived a lot of places and I think spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains is amazing. Redbuds and Dogwoods in early spring giving way to wild roses and honeysuckle growing on every country fence that leave the air perfumed in late spring into early summer. Crepe Myrtle, tulip trees and magnolias and every imaginable shade of little wildflowers everywhere.