Sunday, August 30, 2015

Morrow Mountain State Park- Fall Mountain

Some time ago, we trudged up Morrow Mountain, the signature peak in Morrow Mountain State Park near Badin, North Carolina.  Exploring the park, we ended up at the Marina and contemplated hiking Fall Mountain.  We even hiked about a 1.25 miles up the trail. We vowed to return...and today we did.

Morrow Mountain is another great North Carolina State Park located at the confluence of the Uwharrie, Pee Dee and Yadkin Rivers.  By damming the river at the falls,  Lake Tillery is formed. The park boasts a little bit of everything compacted in 4500 acres.  Morrow Mountain is a remnant of the majestic peaks of the Uwharrie Mountain range.  Some millennials ago, these mountains were some of the tallest in the world reaching 20,000 feet.  Today a 940 foot monadnock is all that remains.

Fall Mountain is a 755 foot ridge top that overlooks the Yadkin River Dam below the marina. Beginning at the marina, a nicely marked trail meanders along the river bank. Interspersed with an occasional fisherman, this part of the trail is frequented by families of park visitors.  From the banks you can see speed boats, fishing canoes and various recreational boating pictured against the green backdrop of the Piedmont ridges of the Uwharrie Mountains.

The trail soon leaves the riverbank and begins its 500 foot meander up Fall Mountain.  The trail is well maintained and well marked and contains long switchbacks which eases the climb.  About a mile in, there are remnants of a fire and this lone standing burned tree is a good mile marker.
The trail is a nice heart thumper.  You get just enough hill to remind you that you are climbing.  At the two mile mark you begin the summit ascent.  We paused and looked back and saw another remnant of the forest fire.  The burned out stump is a good marker for mile 2. 

The trail quickly rises to a gentle sloping ridge that is remarkably clear of undergrowth.  The only problem is the trees that block the view of the river below.  

On the northwestern side of the ridge top is a natural rock wall from which we got occasional glimpses of the river below. 

No doubt the views of a late fall or winter hike would be better.  If I were a Ranger at the park I might show up one day with a chainsaw and create a nice overlook.  I am sure the views are nice if you could see them.

The ridge top is relatively flat of void of the undergrowth that usually is present in North Carolina forests.  The rocks are a great place to rest your dogs.  The rest of the hike is pretty much down hill.

As is my custom, I always pause to either build or add to a trail cairn.  It serves as my time to thank our Creator for the beauty of the day and the glory of His creation.  Today there was a large trail cairn already constructed on the southern side of the ridge.  And as I added stones to the top, I silently prayed my prayer of thanksgiving.  But as I began to balance rocks at the top, my thoughts were drawn to Pastor Jadd Boulos who recently received a troubling diagnosis of cancer.  Yet, every time I prayed a prayer for Pastor Jadd, the stone fell and I had to pray some more.  For healing and strength and most of all for God's peace.  Maybe you can say a prayer for Jadd too.

The rest of the hike is mostly downhill.  I figure the summit was about 2.2 miles in, so I figured another two miles and we would be back in the parking lot marina...wrong...the trail is a little longer than the advertised 4.1 miles...and we also took a nice side trip.  But I did find a neat feather from a large bird.

At a little more than 3 miles into the hike the trail flattened out and to the left was a clearing in the woods. Standing in the clearing is an obelisk noting the presence of a grave site.

Walking to the grave stone, I became aware that this was the family grave yard of the Kron Family.  Dr. Francis J. Kron, his wife Catherine, and his two daughters, Adelaide and Elizabeth lived at the foot of Fall Mountain on a small ridge above the river.  

Dr. Kron was born in Prussia and educated in Europe. His wife, Catherine Delamothe was born in France and they married in Paris in 1823. Following his wife's wealthy uncle to North Carolina, they built a homestead in the remote back woods of present day Stanly County where two daughters were born and raised.

Not far from their grave site is their restored home place.  The house is a remarkably well restored replica of the original which stood on this site into the 1950's.

The house, medical office,

water well, and 

green house  tell a nice story of the life of a rural doctor and his family.  A nice personal touch is the grapevine in that Dr. Kron was avid horticulturalist, growing many exotic plants and fruits, even providing his research to the Smithsonian.
A medical doctor in ante-bellum North Carolina was much sought after and he was known to travel the country side tending to his patients.  He maintained a medical office which doubled as a hospital and was a known apothecary as well, developing Dr. Kron's little pills.  Educated at the University of Pennsylvania, he was one of the very few physicians in the area.

Though well educated, neither Adelaide nor Elizabeth ever married. They eventually inherited but lost the fortune and plantation of their rich uncle across the river.   Like their parents they are buried in an ill kept grave yard not far from the family home place which was known as "Attaway Hill".

Leaving the Kron Homesite, we proceeded down the trail.  The trail down the mountain is deceptively long but eventually emerges into a grassy wooded river flats.

As we arrived at the marina parking lot, the detached voice from my Map My Fitness App announced a 5 mile hike.   But the hike was not over until I got some pics of Lake Tillery from the Marina Pier.

The access to the trail head relatively easy. Morrow Mountain State Park is located southeast of Salisbury off NC 52, or south of Lexington off NC 109 via NC 49.  Follow the signs to the marina and the trail head is easy to find. - 8;  The trail is well maintained and marked - 8....but the scenery is lacking-7; the effort to view ratio really does not apply since there is not much to see on the trail.

But add the historical home site and the riverside and you have a nice five mile 8 graded hike.

For more information on Dr. Kron and his amazing life, take a took a this website:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hanging Rock - Cooks Wall Hike


On an unusual August Day, the temperatures dipped into the 70's, I decided to hike alone in my favorite North Carolina State Park.  Starting from the parking lot of the visitor's center I trudged up the Hanging Rock Trail looking for the Wolf Rock Trail, which is about 2/3 the way up.


From the parking lot overlook, I got a nice picture of the knob of Hanging Rock Mountain.  The signature cliffs are to the right.  This picture looks so much like the Pilot Mountain Knob, it reminds me of the similar geology of the Saura Mountains. 

Many of the tourist hikers did not know what they were in for as they sped past me catching my breath before taking the Wolf Rock Trail.  The Hanging Rock trail for the final third is nearly all steps.  Any thought of visiting there soon left my mind. So I will add some pictures from earlier visits.

The Wolf Rock Trail combines with the Hanging Rock Trail to burn about 500 feet in elevation change from the parking lot in about 1.5 miles.  It is a great mountain trail shaded and free from tourists. I wanted to hike the Grand Loop but decided better of it, but you can get an idea of my hike from the map below

 After a steep climb, there are a series of rock cliff overlooks to take a needed break and enjoy the view.

You can easily see the Duke Power Plant at Belews Lake as well as the faint outline of the skyline of Winston-Salem.  

You can get to Wolf Rock easier by parking in the Lake Parking area and taking a trail behind the picnic area.  Leaving the Wolf Rock trail to House Rock is a 1.5 mile pleasant ridge line trail with a moderately steep incline as you get close to the House Rock.  

From House Rock, you can see the distant profile of Hanging Rock Mountain

House Rock is a great place to rest your dogs and drink some water. By my FitBit I had hiked 3.5 miles and I expect that covered about 650 in elevation. The ridge line hike ends at House Rock. The .8 mile hike to the Cooks Wall cliff is all uphill and is the longest 8/10th mile you will hike. You will know that you have reached the summit when you see an unusual grassy meadow surrounding a rock garden.  One small incline later and you are there.
From the cliff at Cooks Wall Mountain is one of the better views of Pilot Mountain.  On this day I was welcomed by three hawks performing an aerial dance.  

The countryside is only about 800 feet in elevation and even though Cooks Wall Mountain is only 2200 feet, the views are similar to that seen in the Blue Ridge.  Farms and house dot the Piedmont 

I always meet the nicest folks on the trail.  Today was no exception.  This couple is from Iredell County.  Rebecca is a high school senior getting ready to start school next week. Spencer has graduated and has enlisted in the Navy! Thanks for your commitment to serving our country Spencer, you make the Fat Bald White Guy proud!

The trail ends about 200 feet from the cliff and from a top a large rock formation, you can get a good look at Moores Wall.  The Knob can't be seen but any thoughts of hiking that ridge left me as I was reminded of another steep climb.

On the way down, I stopped at two favorite spots.  The first I call "Funny Rocks Cliff" for the odd shaped rocks that are balanced there. 

The second spot is "Cairn Rock", the first place we saw trail cairns.  Someone had rearranged the cairn rocks into a "peace sign".  I decided to return a cairn to "Cairn Rock" and in so doing I paused to thank our Creator for the magnificent day.  

On the way out I shared the Magnolia Springs Trail with a group from the Triad Math and Science Charter School.  They were a great group, and when asking one young man what he liked best about his school, he said: "I like the way they work us hard and challenge us every day"  WOW!  Props to the folks at Triad Math and Science! As we intersected with the Moore's Knob trail, I thought about extending my hike. Though tempted I figured I was 7 miles into the hike and did not have any water I decided to head home.  

But to get to the visitor's parking lot I had to hike about a mile and a half up the Moore's Knob Loop Trail through the campground and down the campground road. The first quarter mile consisted of theses steps! OUCH!
 The trail was great. I hiked nearly 9 miles. Trails were well marked and maintained. - 9;  Access is always good at Hanging Rock State Park-9;  Scenery is good but not spectacular-8; The effort to view ratio is skewed to the effort.   Overall a solid 9 hike. 

Folks often ask why I hike.  I have many reasons but I think they are best summed up by a quote from  Jackie Stetser who has produced a movie entitled "Monadnock, the Mountain That Stood Alone"  She observed: "Every time I hike, I gain a new perspective of my own life and the situations that I face. I gain new strength as I climb, and I spend time with some of my favorite people. No matter which mountain I hike, I walk away with a lighter heart."