Saturday, March 4, 2017




While I have driven through Duke Forest many times, I have never stopped to hike there....until today....what a treat!

We decided to hike the Korstian Loop....and accessed the trail off Whitfield Road...parking right next to the New Hope Volunteer Fire Department. There is a gravel access road there that leads to Gate 24.

The Korstian Section of Duke Forest is accessed at three points off Whitfield Road.   The Wooden Bridge Road is the access at Gate 24.   In about a mile the road leads downhill to the Wooden Bridge.

The Wooden Bridge crosses the New Hope Creek which flows eastwardly.  It is at this point the online map indicated that our loop trail begins.  But in reality this trail is the New Hope Creek North Trail.

We found the trailhead on the far side of the bridge as the map on line indicated that we would turn right at the bridge.  There appears to be another trail on the western side of the creek but I am not sure where it leads.
The Blue Dot Trail follows the New Hope Creek northwardly down stream.  It is a well worn but narrow path that is marked with "Blue Dots".  We were deep in the forest and only the sounds of crickets, birds and water splashing on rocks could be heard.   I think we encountered four people on the trail the entire day.
The early signs of spring were evidenced by a few colorful blossoms and very small purple flowers along the trail.  Though a month a way, the signs were there.
The real scenery of the day was the flowing creek.  Ever changing, always moving, the creek was alive.

At about the mile mark on the trail...two miles into the hike we encountered what an old man on the trail called...."Pinch Rock".  The Blue Dot trail leads you to this rock wall that extends into the creek.  The trail continues on the other side.
The FBWG made it over with ease, but my Faithful Hiking Companion could not figure out where to step and gave up and decided to climb the ridge....
So after waiting for nearly 15 minutes for My Faithful Hiking Companion to emerge on the ridgeline, I decided to climb the ridge to find her...not a easy task.... but I could not go home without her!
Making it to the top of the ridge I found a faint trail but My Faithful Hiking Companion was not there....looking at my phone I saw a message...."Where are you?"...So I called her...and after a few moments of confusion she announced that she could see my trail yellow coat....whew....losing her would have been hard to explain.   So to get back on the trail....we slid down the leaf covered hillside....laughing like kids.
Back on the Blue Dot trail, we were relieved....but about 200 yards down the trail, it just ended.  We surmised from the wear of the hillside, that the trail must lead up the ridge.  I volunteered to climb to the top again...and eventually found the Blue Dot Trail.

After climbing the ridge for the second time, My Faithful Hiking Companion announced that she was not sliding down to the river again....fortunately she did not have to...the ridge line trail was a smooth descent off the ridge to a bend in the river.

The trail led along the creek as it took a bend to the east.  One more climb to a small bluff provided a nice view of the creek.

Not far from the bluff, we caught a glimpse of the Concrete Bridge.    
Climbing out on the large rocks crossing the creek, I turned to take a picture of the creek as the sun glistened on the water.
The Concrete Bridge is on an aptly named Concrete Bridge Road....that leads from Gate 25 off of Whitfield Road.  Checking my mapping app I realized that the loop we were hiking took us up Concrete Bridge Road away from Whitfield we decided to loop the other way and finish the hike with a half mile walk along Whitfield Road...saving a couple of miles.  Leaving the creek, I took one more picture from the bridge.
The hike out along the gravel Concrete Road out was a pleasant walk, a bit of a climb to begin with.  But reaching the road, we turned right and followed the road for a half mile to the Fire Station.   Along the way I found an old house adorned by a new tree already with spring leaves.
We hiked nearly five miles.   The access is a 9.  Whitfield Road is easy to find.  Take the NC 86 exit off I-40.  Turn left.  Whitfield Rd is the first right after crossing the interstate bridge.  Parking on the road just before the fire station.
The trail is well marked but confusing ( always look at the map!) when it ends creek side past the pinch rock - 8;  Scenery is not spectacular but a wonderful forest trail alongside a creek - 8;  Effort to view is good....the climb to the ridge trail is a steep one.  Overall 8+ trail....we will be back!  For more info ck out the link:

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side.  It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn’t it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'

Sunday, February 19, 2017



“Adventure isn’t hanging  off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life – facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential.” -John Amatt   

Hanging Rock State Park is one of my favorite places to hike.  Only 30 minutes from my home, it offers some of the best climbs and views that you could hope for 100 miles east of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  For three straight weekends in February I hiked its trails.  It was nearly 80 degrees on the first two hikes and about 40 degrees on the third Sunday. 

So the FBWG took off to get into trail shape for the season....and on the first Saturday took along my Adopted Yankee Daughter (AYD)

The AYD taking a look at our first destination....we decided to hike to the peak of Hanging Rock Mountain then take the Wolf Rock Trail to House Rock.  My AYD had never been to Hanging Rock nor had she ever hiked with the FBWG....and she set a pace that wore the old guy out!
My AYD and I hiked about six miles...from the Lake Parking lot to the peak of Hanging Rock then along the Wolf Rock Trail to one of my favorite overlooks.....House Rock.   Looking back on Hanging Rock, we got an idea of how far we hiked.  While on the peak of Hanging Rock we met Bailey who struck a pose at the edge of the cliff.  While my AYD was contented with just the back drop of Moore's Knob
As reported before, Hanging Rock Knob hike is not one of my favorite hikes.  For two reasons.  First, it has steps...nearly 300 steps mark the final ascent.  Second it is a sociable is one of the more popular destinations for all kinds of people, their extended family...and of course their dogs.   It is only a 1.3 mile trail from the parking lot but it is very steep in places.  Nevertheless I decided to return the following Sunday...but got there a little later and encountered about 500 hikers....nearly 100 on the knob alone!
So to get me in the mood to hike alone I plugged in my ear pods and rocked to the top listening to Waylon Jennings.  Still even with all the people on the knob it was a majestic day and I took in some good views.

Most of the time I don't care for dogs on the trails...they have a good time but when you get 100 people and 50 dogs it can be too much.  Nevertheless...I became enamored with this young German Shepherd "Loki" who posed for me.
On the way down, I paused to consider a side trail...and true to form found a nice place that I have named "Hidden Rock".  The trail to this place is an unmarked spur trail located at the end of the last climb.  The main trail turns left at this point...but if you look to the right there is a trail off into the woods.  It leads to Hidden Rock.  A large rock on top of the spine of a ridge.  From the top of the rock is a great view to the northeast.

Being the only person on top of Hidden Rock, I suddenly wondered what would happen if I should fall and be injured.  One of the risks hiking alone I suppose, especially if you take unmarked trails.  So I decided to leave the rock scramble to these rocks for another day.  Bet there is a good view up there?!

Being late in the day I decided to return to the lake parking lot by way of the Hanging Rock Trail.  So I put in some Jamey Johnson singing Hank Cochran songs and trudged down the trail with all the other folks on the mountain.  I was about to reach the end of the trail and encountered a lovely lady from News2 who was not at all dressed to hike.  Telling her that I would make her famous by putting her in the blog, she offered to return the favor and interviewed me for a piece on News2 at 11.
Turns out someone fell from the Rock the day before...falling some 40 feet.   Guess what folks, gravity sucks! Prayers for the young man who was injured. Hey be careful out there!   By the way, the picture featured above is a person hanging from Balanced Rock...about six feet off the to admit...great effect!
On the Third was perfect weather...38 degrees when we started....took along Easy Jake...he wore shorts!

Our goal was the grand loop....all 12 miles and three climbs to the three peaks of Hanging Rock State Park....a bucket list hike for me....we started out on Hanging Rock Trail....did I ever tell you I hate steps!

There are nearly 300 steps up the final ascent to the top of Hanging never disappoints me....I huff and puff all the way to the top.

Going down the steps are easier on the thumper but harder on the knees....this is a steep short hike...but take your time if the FBWG can do it 3 weekends in a can make it!
I realize what life is all about; it's hanging on when your heart's had enough; it's giving more when you feel like giving up" -Mortimer Peabody

Easy Jake had to take some risks....there he is hanging from the balanced rock like he was a kid....Good thing he did not let go or I would have lost my favorite banker!

Of really was not that risky....he was only about six foot off the ground hanging on the tip of the balanced rock that is on the western side of the Hanging Rock Summit

The summit was windy but Jake got to see the route we would take to Cook's Wall Mountain by way of Wolf Rock and House Rock.  But before we left the top he had to climb to the top of "Hidden Rock"

Leaving the Hanging Rock Summit we caught the Wolf Rock trail just as I did two weeks earlier with the is a great trail...moderate and smooth....then we climbed to the House Rock....and looked back to see just how far we hiked....4.5 miles to be exact!
From House Rock we turned and trudged up the sneaky steep slope of Cook's Wall Mountain....Jake embarrassed me as he strode up the mountain while the FBWG struggled to keep up...hey I made it!
From the summit of Cook's Wall Mountain I captured my favorite view of Pilot Mountain and Sauratown Mountain.

Taking a picture to prove that Jake made it...we captured our next destination of Moore's Knob...only about 3.5 miles away!  Turned out it was a bridge too far for the FBWG...we connected with the Moore's Knob trail via the Magnolia Spring Trail....just two miles away....but the FBWG was out of gas.....7.5 miles was all I we trudged back to the Lake Parking Lot....and logged 8.0 miles!

I am gonna make the Grande Loop this bucket list hiking goal!

Hanging Rock Trail is a great trail to hike on a lazy afternoon.  It is short but steep and has a great view.  Access is a 9...trail is a 8 (I hate steps!) .... scenery is a 9...effort to view ratio...near perfect...9....but you have to factor in the people and the dogs...the trail is much too sociable for me....overall grade is an 8


Wolf Rock Trail is a wonderful ridge line trail connecting Hanging Rock to Wolf Rock, House Rock and Cooks Wall Mountain...The best access is off the Hanging Rock Trail....8; trail is an 8...well marked and moderate....scenery is an 8  Wolf Rock and woods is what you get....effort to view pretty good....overall grade 8;

Cook's Wall Mountain is a climb especially if you come from the Lake Trail....two hard climbs...the first to Wolf Rock Trail...the second from House Rock to the summit....trail is 8; scenery at House Rock and the summit are some of the best in the park....9...effort to view....side with effort...long hard slog...overall grade 8

All that being to hang out at the lake on the way back to the car on my second Sunday and caught an nice sunset.
Also got a couple of nice shots of the lake and Moore's Knob Mountain.

But the best setting for the lake was the boat house.

And a shot of the dam was nice too.
I may be biased but I think Hanging Rock State Park offers some of the best hikes anywhere...including the Blue Ridge Mountains...if you live in the Piedmont Triad and have not hiked to Hanging are missing a real treat....make it your bucket list hike this season!  Check out my other trail reviews on this blog of Hanging Rock State Park...Take a hike in 2017!