Hike Date: Friday July 29, 2022
With this past week’s Walking With Bartram hike from Beechertown to Piercy Creek trailheads, we near the completion of this first section-hike series. The majority of our group for this stretch has been with us on every section so far and we’re all looking forward to reaching Cheoah Bald next month.
The morning started off a bit overcast and misty, but weather wasn’t goin to hold anyone up from enjoying the day. After meeting up at the Piercy Creek pull-off to organize shuttle vehicles, we headed down the road to the Beechertown trailhead. Just below us on the river, the Nantahala Outdoor Center prepared a large group to launch a whitewater trip.
Our group made final preparations before gathering around for Brent Martin’s traditional reading from “Bartram’s Travels.” The passage was appropriately chosen, William Bartram’s description of his encounter with Chief Attakullakulla from his journey to the Nantahala area before heading back to Cowee Valley.
Wild native raspberry bushes lined the edge of the hill just below the trail leading up to the Duke Energy road to the surge tank above. Power lines run every-which-way from the station below us. The group is eager to get started on its climb up to the surge tank and then off the road into the woods.
The access road walk greeted the group with large patches of Cinnabar Chanterelle mushrooms and Carolina Lillies along the embankments. The road continues climbing for about a mile or so before we stopped for a short break at the Duke Energy surge tank. The views from this spot are long through the Nantahala River Valley, even with some fog and low-lying clouds remaining.
After the short break, we enter the woods on the single-track Bartram Trail. At this elevation of about 3200′ we still have some light filtering down on us which soon turn a little darker as we begin slightly descending. The height and the treetops and maturity of this section of forest create a darker understory for the remainder of the hike.
We reach the point where trails merge and the Bartram Trail continues on, a good place to sit for lunch. This break is cut somewhat short by a passing shower passing through, so we pick up and move along.
The Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy volunteers have been out to these remote sections recently, so our path down to Piercy Creek and the crossing of the Nantahala River are clear and easy to traverse. There are a couple of smaller creek crossings before crossing the river. Some of the bridges are still standing to facilitate these crossings, but are in need of some rehabilitation. No worries though, we’re a bit wetter at this point and reading ourselves for the final river crossing and a subsequent change out of our wet clothing.
As we reach the river, the dark and wet woods turns brighter. We work our way up the river’s edge a bit to a shallower stretch with less turbulent waters. Hiking poles are extended, folks are changing into water shoes, and everyone is rolling up their pant-legs as we begin the final river crossing. Even with a solid rain the night before, the river crossing is manageable and a cooling end to our roughly 7 mile journey.
On the last Friday of August, we finish up our the final Walking With Bartram section and reach Cheoah Bald. Following our August completion, we will celebrate our accomplishment in September with a short hike to a few special locations and a gathering to look back on our journey. Anyone is welcome to join us for this hike. Just RSVP here!
If you’re interested in completing your own Bartram Trail section hikes, you’re welcome to hop on with us any time. These hikes are open to anyone with a sense of wonder, amazement, and a sense of humor helps. You can sign up for our newsletter for hike announcements or check out our Events or Facebook pages to get alerts.