Tag Archives: Both Mountain Trail

Finley Cane Trail

Date:    April 23, 2016

Miles:  2.6 miles           Elevation Gain:  259↑ **        Elev./Mi:   99       Grade:       2%          

Difficulty:  Class 1      Hiking Time: 0:57       Pace:  2.73  mph         Avg. Temp.:   63        

Section:  Cades Cove  

** This section was documented from Bote Mountain Trail, descending to the trailhead at Laurel Creek Road.  From the trailhead up, the elevation gain is 459 ft., Elevation/mile is 176 at a 3% grade.

Finley Cane Map  Finley Cane Elevation

The trailhead for Finley Cane Trail is on Laurel Creek Road, 5.5 miles from the Townsend “Y”.  It is shared with Lead Cove and Turkey Pen Ridge Trails providing the 900 miler with several options for loop hikes.  This section was hike a part of a loop with Lead Cove to Bote Mountain and is documented from Bote Mountain Trail.  There is ample water along the path with several creek crossings.  The closest campsite is about 0.9 miles from the Bote Mountain intersection down West Prong Trail to CS #18.

From Bote Mountain Trail, the path is level to a slight incline for the first 0.4 miles, then descending to Finley Cove Creek at 1.0 miles.  The creek is typically dry in the summer.  Flowing Finley Cove Creek, there is a slight rise and then a pleasant descent to Hickory Tree Branch and Laurel Cove Creek, two crossing that occur at 2.0 miles.  This section passes through mixed hardwoods, some of which are remnants of virgin timber forests.  The gentle descent continues on the the trail head at 2.6 miles at Laurel Creek Road.

Finley Cane Data Book

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Lead Cove – Finley Cane Loop Hike

Date: April 23, 2016

Miles: 7.5 miles           Elevation Gain:   1,555   ↑         Elev./Mi:   207         Grade:  4%          

Difficulty:  Class 3        Hiking Time: 2:48       Pace:  2.7  mph            Avg. Temp.:  72        

Section:  Cades Cove     

Lead Cove - Finley Cane LoopThis is a good, moderately difficult loop that is easy to get to.  The trailhead is on Laurel Creek Road, 5.5 miles from the Townsend “Y”. This trailhead is where several trails meet in the section including both Lead Cove and Finely Cane as well as Turkey Pen Ridge.  This intersection offers a number of loop possibilities depending on the desired length of the hike.  There is plenty of water along the route but there are no campsites.  The closest site is CS#18 at 0.6 miles past the intersection.



IMG_2661The route is:

  1. Lead Cove Trail to Bote Mountain Trail                      1.8 miles
  2. Bote Mountain Trail to West Prong Trail                    2.8 miles
  3. Bote Mountain Trail (return) to Finley Cane Trail     0.3 miles
  4. Finely Cane Trail to Trailhead                                      2.6 miles

The morning was cool and cloudy, good for cranking some mileage.  Lead Cove Trail is a steady 1,161 ft climb at 12% through mixed hardwoods.  There are a couple stream crossings at 0.4 miles over Sugar Cove Prong and again at 1.4 miles at Laurel Cove Creek.  Lead Cove terminates at 1.8 miles into Bote Mountain Trail.  Note to 900 milers:  You may consider hiking the 1.2 miles of Bote Mountain Trail up to the Intersection with Anthony Creek and returning.  The upper section of Bote Mountain is commonly hiked in a loop with Anthony  Creek trail.  Neglecting this segment can create an orphan.  However, ignoring this advice, we hiked on down Bote Mountain to West Prong Trail.  This section loses most of the elevation gained on Lead Cove in a gentle descent over its 2.8 miles.  The segment between Finley Cane Trail and West Prong Trail is a mere 0.3 miles and we elected to grab it in less than 10 minutes of walking.  Finley Cane Trail undulates a bit losing more elevation than is gained for a net 259 ft. over 2.6 miles.  There are creek crossings at 1.0 miles over Finely Cove Creek, 2.0 miles at Hickory Tree Branch and shortly beyond at Laurel Cove Creek.

Overall, this loop hike is quite enjoyable.  The section features many opportunities to view wildflowers over the season and bear sightings are common.

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Anthony Creek – Bote Mountain Trails – Lolly Pop Hike

Date: March 26, 2016

Miles: 14.2 miles           Elevation Gain:   3,212↑         Elev./Mi:   356.9     Grade:  7%          

Difficulty:  Class 4        Hiking Time: 4:47       Pace:  2.97  mph         Avg. Temp.:   65        

Section:  Cades Cove     

Anthony Creek - Bote Mountain LoopCades Cove Picnic Area at the Anthony Creek Trailhead, 8:50 am on the Saturday before Easter.  There is only one other vehicle in the area and this end of the park was surprisingly quiet and devoid of visitors.  Nonetheless, it was a beautiful morning, temperature in the mid 40’s.  This particular loop is a popular one as it features the Appalachian Trail, two shelters and the delightful Spence Field.  It is also an access point for Rocky Top and Thunderhead.  Perhaps one of the best features is the fact that one does not have to negotiate Cades Cove Loop traffic to get to the trailhead.

IMG_2584The route is Anthony Creek Trail to Russell Field Trail to the AT.  From the Russell Field Shelter on the AT to Bote Mountain Trail at Spence Field, down Bote Mountain to Anthony Creek and out, making up the lolly pop shape of the route.  Overall, the hike is moderate difficulty at about a Class 4 but the climb up Russell Field Trail is a 10% grade.  The descents on Bote Mountain and Anthony Creek are 12% and 9% respectively making this particular direction the more desirable; steeper on the way down…  There is plenty of water on this loop and there are two shelters and two campsites.

Anthony Creek Trail

Anthony Creek Trail

The hike up the lower portion of Anthony Creek Trail starts out in a gentle climb on a wide gravel road.  At 0.2 miles on the left is the Crib Gap Trail leading 1.6 miles to Turkey Pen Ridge.  The 900 Miler should consider this as a potential orphan.  Just beyond lies the horse camp.  The morning turned even more beautiful as the gentle climb continued, passing through evergreens that seem to be under attack as many were dead and some still standing.  The trail follows Abrams Creek, crossing it a few times until about 1.5 miles where Anthony Creek and the Left Prong of Anthony Creek come together.  This is the headwaters of Abrams Creek which has become so special in the heart of this hiker.  At 1.7 miles and 29 minutes, is the intersection with Russell Filed Trail.


Pine Tree Sentinel In Clearing Near Spence Field

Pine Tree Sentinel In Clearing Near Russell Field

Russell Filed is single track and follows Left Prong Anthony Creek as the climb steepens to a 10% grade over the next 3.5 miles.  At 0.9 miles on Russell Field Trail is the Leadbetter Ridge Campsite #10 which is a good rest spot unless there are late sleeping inhabitants who would appreciate not being disturbed.  The rhododendron and laurel start to show up as low shrubs.  Look for wonderful blooms in this section early summer. The trail crests a ridge at 1.9 miles with views opening up of Cades Cove.  At around 3 miles, Russell Field Trail opens up to grassy fields and yet the climb continues steadily.  Note a large clearing on the left at 3.4 miles with an unofficial campsite. An unusual pine tree keeps sentinel over this peaceful spot. One can see why campers would be attracted to spend a night here.  Russell Field Trail ends on the AT at Russell Filed Shelter.

Russell Field Shelter

Russell Field Shelter

There were a half dozen hikers enjoying lunch at the shelter when a group of college friends on spring break showed up early for the evening.  I enjoyed a good conversation with them as they were all from Elon College and had all studied entrepreneurship.  While we enjoyed our lunch, there was a steady flow of hikers on the AT, many of which were no doubt AT Thru-Hikers as it is the time of year for their annual migration to pass through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

AT Ridge Runner

AT Ridge Runner

Striking out on the AT just before noon found typical ridge hike rolling up and down as my right foot landed in North Carolina and my left landed in Tennessee.  At about 1.2 miles on the AT is a very interesting tree in later stages of decay.  A number of day hikers passed me heading south on the AT.  The trail is largely mixed hardwoods until at about 2.7 miles when Spence Field opens up.  The clouds have rolled in obscuring an otherwise beautiful view.  A hundred yards before the side trail to the Spense Field Shelter is what could be desrbed as a rhododendron “gateway” through which the trail runs as you near the intersection with Bote Mountain Trail and Eagle Creek Trail.  I stopped for some water and conversation with a 900 Miler.  Before long a ridge runner with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy joined us and shared a few stories about this years class of AT Thru-Hikers.  All along this time was a steady flow of backpackers moving in both directions.  It was nearly as bad as driving in Cades Cove.  I am so glad I will not be staying with the crowds amassing at all the shelters and campsites in this area tonight.

I took off down the steep rocky descent on Bote Mountain Trail and was making great time while passing several weary hikers on the way up looking for encouraging news about the end of their arduous climb.  I tried to be cherry but letting them know they still had a mile to go did not land with great tidings.  At about 1.5 miles I passed a young lady sporting a pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers.  The sight of her glasses reminded me that I did not have my own pair properly mounted on the bridge of my nose.  When they failed to show up in any of my pockets or my daypack, I concluded with much sadness that they must have been left back at the AT.  Having descended about 1,500 feet over a couple miles, I elected NOT to go back up and look for them.

Anthony Creek Trailhead at Cades Cove Picnic Area

Anthony Creek Trailhead at Cades Cove Picnic Area

The intersection with Anthony Creek Trail arrived at 1.7 miles.  The top of Anthony Creek Trail is fairly steep and somewhat muddy.  At about 0.3 miles, a view of Cades Cove opens up through the trees.  At 0.5 miles, you can hear Anthony Creek singing songs of welcome, which will be with you all the way back to the trailhead.  At 0.7 miles is Anthony Creek Campsite #9 which is a very large and popular campsite.  Today was no exception as there were several campers staking their claim early in the afternoon.  At 1.3 miles the 9+ % grade descent continues with the rocks adding a rugged component to the hike and a source of torment to aching feet.  At 1.9 miles is the intersection with Russell Field Trail.  The next 1.6 miles are repeat mileage but the trail lightens up to much more pleasant hiking.   At 2.2 miles the gravel road returns.  All along this stretch are a number of nice cascades keep one company courtesy of Abrams Creek.  Decision confronted me at 3.4 miles.  It was about hiking 2.4 miles out and back on Crib Gap Trail.  To make the story short, let’s just say I have a 1.2 mile orphan to pick up later.  I made the 3.5 miles down in 3 hours and 2 minutes and was greeted by a vast mob of picnicers.  Despite the great smelling food cooking, I was quite anxious to hop in the truck and get outa there!  A 14 mile day with 3,200 feet of climbing was my reward and my portion of being.

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