GET Section 7c Trail Report

August 20, 2010:

Circuit hike: Meadow Creek Trail-Connector Trail-Meadow Mountain Trail-Allegheny Trail-Upper Meadow Trail-Sherwood Lake Trail, starting and finishing at the Meadow Creek Campground, 9.8 miles.  I did this hike with my dog, Sid.  It was a sunny day in the high 80s. 
      This is part of GET Section 7d, covering both the current and my suggested route.  Current Route is Meadow Mountain Trail and Allegheny Trail, while my suggested route is Connector Trail, Meadow Creek Trail, Lake Sherwood Trail, and Upper Meadow Trail to the Allegheny Trail.  It gave me a chance to compare the two routes. 
      The Meadow Creek Trail is a well-travelled trail.  It has signs at both ends, but is trimmed only to about the 2nd creek crossing.  After that it is grown-in some, most often by Rhododendron.  I cut a number of them to clear the way, although not most by any measure.  For the first time on a GET hike, I met some other hikers, 2 men, a woman, and 2 dogs.  There are numerous creek crossings.  This section of trail was measured as 2.6 using DeLorme TopoAmerica 6. 
      The Connector Trail is a jeep trail (at first) and a dirt road (farther up).  It looks like it has been mowed or otherwise cleared some time this summer.  It connects the Meadow Creek Trail to the Meadow Mountain Trail (to northwest) and the Allegheny Mountain Trail (to southeast).  The sign says it is 2 miles, which is useless information, since I was going from a point in the middle, and I don't know how accurate "2 miles" is.  The section of trail used in this hike was measured as 1.5 miles on DeLorme TopoAmerica 6. 
      The Meadow Mountain Trail is a dirt or grass road along the top of Meadow Creek Mountain (note name difference).  In fact, there are numerous meadows along the top of this mountain, although the views are limited as they don't go very far down from the crest of the ridge.  The grass and other plants on the road are not mowed, but were not too high.  There were many wildflowers in these meadows.  This section of trail was measured as 3.4 miles using DeLorme Topo America 6.0.
      Meadow Mountain Trail ends on the Allegheny Trail, and there are signs, including GET signs, and the grass road continues south (left) on the Allegheny Trail, while the Allegheny Trail to the north is blazed, but almost invisible as a footpath. 
      I followed the Allegheny Trail to the Upper Meadow Trail, a distance indicated as 1.1 on the Allegheny Trail map, but only 0.42 measured on that same map.  I count it as 0.5.  That intersection is marked with signs that give only trail numbers, not names.  The Upper Meadow Trail starts down as a dirt road, which I followed all of the way to the entrance road, going through part of the Group Campground and Amphitheater parking.  (Later I found the trail breaks off the road and crosses about ½ mile to the south.  I hiked that part on August 22.)  As best as I can determine, it is 1.2 miles from the Allegheny Trail to the Lake Sherwood Road, 0.2 along the road, and 0.9 of the Lake Sherwood Trail to Meadow Creek Trail. 
      From that point I followed the entrance road past the boat dock area and picked up the Lake Sherwood Trail, along the edge of the lake, which I followed back to the campground. 

Some observations:

  • The appearance of the trails was different than I expected.  I expected foot trails on the mountain, but they were all jeep trails or grassy roads.  I was expecting a road to the intersection of the Lake Sherwood Trail and Meadow Creek Trail which was not there.  The Lake Sherwood Trail was a nice trail, and less road walking is needed for the GET route than I thought.  
  • There was no poison ivy until I got on the Lake Sherwood Trail, and it was just on the trees nearby, not where one would brush it.  
  • The Lake Sherwood Trail goes right beside the lake shore, with many beautiful views across the lake.  
  • No ticks or chiggers got on me. 


December 31, 2010

VA 600 (Bolar Draft Road) to Connector Trail, 9 miles.
      This was mostly on the High Top Tower Road in the T.W. Gathright State Wildlife Management Area, plus on Meadow Creek Mountain to a point where I had hiked on August 20, 2010.  This is part of Section 7d of the Great Eastern Trail, over Little Allegheny Mountain.  It was an out and back hike with my dog Sid.  Although the temperatures got into the 50s, the roads I hiked on were 99% snow covered, up to about 6 inches.  The snow made the hike harder than normal.  There had been a snow, perhaps 6" about 2 weeks before, then another inch on Christmas. 
      Most, but not all of the roads I hiked were drivable, and had been driven on since it had snowed.  But the roads on top of the mountain had not been driven on since the Christmas snow.  
      The gate of the High Top Tower Road was open and several vehicles had gone up it (and come back).  I found that the road is not open to the top--it was open to about 2 miles, then a dirt pile blocked further driving.  The lower part of the road looked like it was being widened.  Parts have had the trees beside the road cut and deposited beside the road.  About 1.2 mile up the road there were some roads to the sides that went into areas that had been logged.  The road had no ruts or potholes, and would be drivable to ordinary cars when there is no snow on it, although it is one lane and it dead-ends. 
      Beyond the blocking, the road bed was good for hiking, although there were some minor blowdowns on it.  It finally emerges on top of the ridge, where it becomes drivable again.  However, at that point, it is on private land, with "No Trespassing" signs facing the road.  They disappear in the middle, and at the far end there is another set of them, different kind, many with only a few feet behind them to the public land. 
      At the intersection of High Top Tower Road and FDR 55, there is only one sign, "55".  Going on FDR 55, I still had to guess where to turn to go to Meadow Creek Mountain.  It was the next intersection, a "T" as I approached, and went left.  There were no signs at all at this intersection.  These roads had been driven on, but not since the last snow.  I was right--I did head down that road, before long, it came to a closed gate, after a spot with room to turn around or park.  I kept going, and came to the spot where the Connector Trail comes up and the Meadow Mountain Trail begins, continuing on the road I was on.  I had been there last August 20. 
      From there I turned around and headed back.  The snow was melting, and it was getting slipperier.  Instead of walking on tire tracks, when I got down to the drivable part of the High Top Tower Road, I had to walk in the snow in the middle in most places. 
      At home I found out that I had hiked about 9 miles, more than the 7 I thought I had done. 

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