Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Exploring Waterfalls and Lookout Towers

Waterfalls & Albert Mountain Lookout Tower – 8/25/12 – 3 miles

One of Jim’s cycling friends generously loaned us the use of his vacation cabin in Franklin, NC and we skipped town for a much-needed rest (for Jim, actually, because I skip town all the time.)  On Friday we knocked around Franklin’s downtown, shopping and eating, and got a good night’s sleep in the deep dark woods.  Saturday morning we went out exploring, armed with Kevin Adam’s book “North Carolina Waterfalls” (which is thick as a brick and just as heavy) and the corresponding map. 

Rufus Morgan Falls is found on Forest Road 388 west of Franklin.  The waterfall is halfway around a one-mile loop trail.  The waterfall, a cascading slide about 65 feet high, was impressive though hard to photograph in dappled sunshine...but you get the idea.

Interesting tree bark – I must get a tree ID book this year.

Next up, Big Laurel Falls on FR 67 in the neighborhood of Standing Indian.  The walk to the falls is a smidge over a mile round trip. 

Nice bridge to start us off

Crazy root system

Big Laurel Falls 

Big Butt Tree?

One more waterfall nearby, Mooney Falls.  The mileage in Adams’ guidebook is a little fuzzy and we almost gave up, thinking that signs must be missing, but then there it was.  This gem is just a couple hundred yards off of FR 67. 

Mooney Falls (view from the bottom).  There is a side trail to the top of this and we could see more cascades upstream. 

So a couple of miles of easy trail (and more than a few miles of driving) and we caught three nice spots on our pleasant Saturday morning.  Anything else?  Why, yes!  Also on FR 67 are several trails leading to the Albert Mountain lookout tower, which just happens to sit on the Appalachian Trail on top of Albert Mountain.

Which trail to take?  How much time do we have?  Okay, we took the easy option in Peter Barr’s book, “Hiking North Carolina’s LookoutTowers,” an old road bed trail at the bitter end of FR 67.  A half a dozen pickup trucks filled with – I hate to say this – non-hiker-looking guys in camouflage were hanging out at the end of the gravel, waiting for their dogs to come back from “exercising.”  These good fellows thought we were crazy for hiking in the heat of the day when obviously it was more fun to sit and run the air conditioning.  

From here we hiked a quarter-mile on the old road bed and then turned right onto the AT for a steeper quarter-mile to the summit of Albert Mountain and the lookout tower.

The catwalk and cab were locked so we settled for looking around from the top of the steps. 

View from Albert Mountain lookout tower

So the goal for today was to take a few walks and see a few waterfalls and tag another lookout tower – a good day of exploring.  We also wanted to enjoy the cabin.  Rather than eat out, we picked up a pizza in Franklin and went back to our home-away-from-home, beating the onset of an afternoon thunderstorm by just a few minutes.  We sat on the front porch and watched the storm pass by, pretty impressive.  

The calm after the storm

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.  ~Robert Brault

1 comment:

Linda W. said...

There's nothing I like better than hiking to waterfalls. Looks like you found three nice ones!