Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hanging Rock- Moore's Knob

                         MOORE'S KNOB
                   Hanging Rock State Park

Looking northwest from the Lookout Tower atop Moore's Knob

Many years ago when our children were young, we took a hike up to Moore's Knob at Hanging Rock State Park.  The hike was brutal.  A hot day....out of shape hikers....looming thunder storm....we never made it to the summit.  Though I returned the next year and made the hike, my hiking companion had in her minds eye that the hike up Moore's Knob was something she never wanted to attempt again.....but to my surprise, her summer hiking with the Fat Bald White Guy changed her mind.  With a Friday off from work she said: "Let's hike Moore's Knob" off we went!

Moore's Knob is the tallest of the Saura Mountains (2579) just minutes from downtown Winston-Salem at the Hanging Rock State Park.  

The Moore's Wall  Loop trail is a nice 5 mile trek from the Lake Parking lot. It begins parallel to a lake built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930's

Late afternoon view of the lake provided us with a view of autumn leave reflections

The trail weaves around the lake and generally follows the creek that runs between the Moore's Wall and the Cooks Wall mountains. In many low spaces wooden walkways are built to keep your feet dry.  After a half mile you veer from the creek bank and begin to climb Moore's Wall

The trail offers a chance to enjoy the colors of fall foliage.

I usually take a rest break beneath an interesting tree and this trail was no exception. The afternoon sun illuminated the trail at times like a spot light

About a mile into hike, the trail begins a steep ascent to the top of Moore's Wall.  Thankfully the trail was not nearly as steep as my hiking companion remembered.  It was rocky but really a nice heart thumping trail that was easily overcome with a few brief rest stops.  The trail levels off along the Moore's Wall ridge line and occasional outcropping provide some previews of scenery soon to be seen from Moore's Knob.      

A nice farm can be seen from these windows as well as a more expansive view of the mountains to the southwest.

Also along the ridge line trail are many interesting rock formations some of which also provide some nice views.
The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer, my God, my Rock in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalm 18:2

The ridge line trail was quite a bit longer than I remembered and at times I was thankful that it was well marked as it meanders among so many rock formations that I could see how you could become confused without the red/white dots guiding your path.  

The trail intersects with a rock stair trail which leads from the campground to the lookout tower... but before we took in the views, we had to stop and take a look at "Balanced Rock"   

A converted Fire Tower provides an expansive viewing deck giving a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside.
Hanging Rock viewed from Moore's Knob
Mt Pilot peeking around Sauratown Mtn.

The sun was setting over Pilot Mountain giving the ancient guidepost a very interesting look. 

Hanging Rock St Park Lake
We also can see the lake where the trail begins and get an idea of how far we had walked.  My GPS said it was 3.5 miles.

Look carefully and you can see the outline of a Hawk dancing in the wind.

Take my word that the outline of the skyline of Winston-Salem can be seen over Cooks Wall to the southeast.

I was envious of the young couple perched on top of Moore's Knob but did not want to disturb their moment.....will have to get that view the next time!

The trip back to the parking lot is a 1.6 mile hike down a rock stair trail. It is a much shorter route to the Knob should you want to just visit the Knob but I am not sure it not more steep....

It is a pleasant walk down the mountain and just before you enter the campground you ford a small creek.  After walking through the campground, the trail leads back to the trail leading around the lake.  And we got to get some more views at the wonderful fall reflections.

Hanging Rock State Park is a wonderful place.  It is close and scenic with many interesting trails.  Access is a 10....the Trails are 9....the views are an 8....FBWG gives this hike a solid 9....if you want to start hiking this is the place you need to come.  If you are a hiker and you need a trail fix this is a great place too.  If you have never been to Hanging Rock...what are you waiting for?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Linville Gorge - The Chimneys

                    THE CHIMNEYS

                      at Linville Gorge

One of the hikes left on our summer bucket list was a venture down the trail from the Table Rock Parking Lot toward Shortoff Mountain. Not being up for a 11 mile round trip I elected to make Crackerjack Overlook our destination. In so doing we had a 4 mile out and back afternoon hike....and in the process discovered some more of the visual wonders of the Linville Gorge!.... 

The hike starts at the Table Rock Recreation Area parking lot. It was full. Hikers, campers, church groups. Fortunately most of the folks were hiking north and we were heading south!

From the parking lot we begin our first hike along the "white dot" blazed Mountain to Sea Trail (MST).  This section of the MST is a ridge top boulevard trail linking Table Rock and Shortoff Mountains.   

The trail has a moderate climb from the parking lot to the rock area of the Gorge known as "The Chimneys".  But the FBWG was a bit concerned when we encountered this trail pinch....hiking really is for skinny guys you know!  

But emerging from the trail pinch we encountered some of the visual scenic overload that we have grown accustomed to encountering while hiking the Gorge.  We arrived late morning and the sun had just begun burning off the clouds.

From the ridge line trail you literally can see miles to the east...

Then you can turn around and see miles to the west!   

Then if you look north back up the trail, the Table Rock Mountain looms large.

These mountains, which have seen untold sunrises, long to thunder praise but stand reverent, silent so that man's weak praise should be given God's attention.
― Donald Miller

There were many opportunities to glimpse the Linville River as it meanders through the "Grand Canyon of the East" 

If you look very carefully you may see the Cottontail Falls and the famous FBWG swimming  hole.

The MST forms a giant fish hook around the Chimneys sometimes mere feet from the cliffs overlooking the Linville Gorge offering spectacular views of some of nature's most imaginative designs....remember the cairns that we have seen on various trails....those Cherokee stone altars .... do you think that our Creator might have created a natural cairn overlooking the Gorge?

Many other interesting cliff faces are no doubt tempting to the many rock climbers who flock to the chimneys each year.  

Leaving the Chimneys the path begins a steady decline toward the gap at the foot of Shortoff Mountain.  As the MST turns south we came upon two wonderful rocky I call "Skinny Tree" knob.....the other is Crackerjack....

From the Skinny Tree Knob there is a nice view of the southeast. Also a great look at Shortoff Mountain.

If the Skinny Tree could talk, it would tell you of the forest fire that devastated the Shortoff Mountain area a few years back....and would point out to you how nature had already made a remarkable recovery as evidenced by the colorful mountain below.

From can see the sunny side of the Chimneys and Table Rock

Crackerjack is a great place to take a break and eat lunch.... and on a clear day you may even see Grandfather Mountain in the distance.

We decided not to attempt Shortoff mainly because there were very few views and the trail was very we turned around to enjoy the changing colors and spend some time rock scampering over the Chimneys....good choice I think....

We were told by an older hiker that this year the colors would not be as vivid as we have had too much rain late in the season...something about leaves have to have dry weather to "cure".   

Whatever the reason we expected more color but because color was limited, we appreciated what we saw much more.   

When we got back to the Chimney area we got to see many rock climbers....young and old....skinny....and well.... larger than I would have expected.... but one dude in a red shirt caught my eye from a distance.

The trail soon led to the base of the rock where this guy and his girl friend were climbing....and what did I find.....

Well....this is Our STATE and I guess I should not be surprised finding a fellow Wolfpacker with a pretty lady...enjoying the Linville Gorge...


We discovered that climbing to the top of the rock where he had anchored his ropes was really not very we scampered up the rock and soon found ourselves overlooking the Gorge from a very interesting vantage point.

The climbing ropes were anchored in the rock....yes that is the name of Gospel tune... and a lyric that now comes alive in my mind's eye: 

"Anchored in the Blessed Rock of Ages, I shall not be moved"

Of course we always find nature's adornments on the trail to be confirmation of the blessing of an Almighty Creator God and this hike was no it the red blazed maple tree or the butterfly on some of the last blooms of the season... 

Or a hawk soaring in the winds... or daisy patch along the side of the cannot hike the wilderness and not experience the presence of God.  I am reminded: We need to find God and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.  See how nature-trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the sun, the moon, how they move in silence...We need silence to be able to touch souls. (Mother Teresa)

If you decide to hike Table Rock....don't forget to include a trip out to the is an easy hike with many great views of the Gorge and surrounding mountains that compliments the wonderful views from atop Table Rock.

One thing to remember:  Watch out for Yogi and Boo Boo...he is "smarter than the average bear"  you know!

FBWG rates the Trail Access   9

The Trail is a 9

The scenery is 10

Overall  9   Great Hike!