Back in early February, I decided to give the Loyston Point Recreation Area a try. There are a few trails on this peninsula that extends out into the Clinch River, most of which are multi-use (hiking and mountain biking). It was a chilly morning, but I headed off to hike the Loyston Loop Trail, a 5.4-mile trail that winds around a hill in the northwest part of the peninsula, passing by the river as it goes north, before looping back.
A colleague of mine at the University of Tennessee, another hiking enthusiast, let me know about the House Mountain State Natural Area. This mountain, with a network of easy or strenuous trails, is just 8 miles northeast of Knoxville. Since I currently live in the northeastern area of Knoxville, it's right nearby.
Some time ago, I was driving through the Smokies looking for a trail that I had found on the map called the Huskey Gap Trail. This trail was listed in trail guides as being 4.2 miles round trip and moderate. According to the official Smokey Mountains trail map, the trailhead was just off Newfound Gap Round, a few miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
Not long after one of our southern snowfalls this winter, I set out upon the Falls Creek Falls trail, a challenging 1.5 mile hike up to an amazing waterfall. This hike is in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area of South Carolina. The recent snowfall was still in evidence on the waterfall itself, providing a unique view of the cascade.
Early in 2014, I paid a return visit to the Mountain Creek Trail in Paris Mountain State Park. Last time I was there, it was summer and the place was very green. This time, it was deep winter, and definitely not as lush. However, just as I've noted elsewhere, winter treks can be just as beautiful.
The Stumphouse Tunnel is part of the Blue Ridge Railroad, a project started in 1852 to connect Charleston and Knoxville. It was never finished due to lack of funds, but three of the tunnels still remain standing in various states of incompletion. I visited two of the others on the Blue Ridge Railroad Historical Trail, but did not visit the largest of these, Stumphouse. During the Christmas break, my wife and I went with her uncle to see the sights in the mountains, and Stumphouse Tunnel was one of the places we visited. I wouldn't classify this as a hike, but we at least viewed the tunnel itself, and Issaqueena Falls just nearby.
I was looking for a quick hike on the first Sunday afternoon in March, and so I found the Fant's Grove Wilderness Management Area. I decided to take the Johnstone/Fox trail, a 2.5 mile multi-use trail. It turns out to be between Clemson, SC and Anderson, SC, closer to Clemson. After a few wrong turns, I found the trailhead and set off to see how this trail would go.
On the last weekend in January, I headed out to Oconee State Park to try out the Tamassee Knob trail, a moderate 2.1-mile hike (one-way) to the top of a 1,620-foot peak in upstate South Carolina. A beautiful hike, made a little more interesting by lingering ice from the previous cold night and some fantastic low-lying clouds.
So, in mid-January, I headed over to Caesar's Head State Park, to do some more hiking in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, north of Greenville, SC. This is the same area as the Frank Coggins Trail, which I have done a few times. On this occasion, I decided upon the Raven Cliff Falls Trail, a moderate 2.2-mile trail.