Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Powell Gap

Hightop from the rock viewpoint
1 mile round trip, 300 feet elevation gain
Difficulty: Easy

This is a short hike along the Appalachian Trail with a decent view in the southern section of the park. The hike name is a bit misleading- this hike does not go to Powell Gap, it simply starts at Powell Gap and leads to a small rock viewpoint. The greenstone outcrop destination of this trail is visible from Bacon Hollow Overlook: in fact, at that overlook, there is a view to the south of a line of outcrops popping out along the east side of the mountain.

I did this hike on an overcast early October weekday. As I drove into the park on US 33, I admired the fall colors, which were beginning to hit full swing. I stopped first at the Sandy Bottom Overlook before continuing south to grassy Powell Gap at mile 69. I parked in the grassy area on the side of the road.

Grindstone Mountain from Sandy Hollow Overlook
The hike started on the east side of the road at the south end of the overlook. It follows the Appalachian Trail the entire way. From the gap, the trail immediately began a gentle ascent through beautiful fall forest. The forest floor was damp from recent rain and was covered with a layer of freshly fallen leaves. I made my way quickly through the forest and up a slightly steeper ascent before the trail leveled out on top of the ridge. Mountain laurel surrounded many areas of the trail: this hike would be fun in the spring. I found it enjoyable to hike through the autumn forest.

On the Appalachian Trail
A half mile from the trailhead, I reached a small greenstone outcrop on the left side of the trail. I hung around and enjoyed the view briefly. The view here was fairly limited and was fairly similar to the view from nearby Bacon Hollow Overlook. I could see down into Bacon Hollow and the long ridge of Hightop dominated on to the north. Bacon Hollow Overlook and Skyline Drive were also visible. The Appalachian Trail continued south from the viewpoint toward Flattop Mountain, but I turned around here and returned to my car.

Bacon Hollow from the rock viewpoint

No comments:

Post a Comment