Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Hike of 2009 - Greenleaf Trail - Cumberland Gap

With yesterday being the first day of Spring, and today we found ourselves with hospitable weather, we decided it was time to do away with the crampness of the winter indoors and let our souls and spirits be free to roam in the great outdoors. That's right, we decided it was time to get out under the blue sky and soak in some Vitamin D. With that in mind, last night we sat down to plan where we would set ourselves free. In the end, we decided upon Cumberland Gap State Park.

Considering we hadn't hiked all winter long, and that we are totally out of shape (unless of course you consider round a shape), we figured tackling the Wilderness Road Ridge Trail to Hensley Settlement or White Rocks would best be left for another time. Instead we opted for a nice little one-mile nature trail called Greenleaf Trail. The trailhead is located in the Wilderness Road Campground at the amphitheatre. The trail itself is only .8 miles or so, but we had to park at the group camp parking area and walk through part of the campground to get there.

Upon entering the trailhead just past the amphitheatre the trail meanders downhill all the way until you meet up with the Station Creek. Along the way down, well I won't try to describe the trail the way the trail guide does that you can download from the Cumberland Gap NPS Site does but I'll just say that it's quite leafy on the trail. Be careful as you start as the trail is not blazed but being a nature trail it's not that hard to follow. We stopped about half way down as I had spotted some little red flowers of some sort that were beginning to pop out of the ground. This then lead to the spotting of some little red insects. It was at this point that Robin decided to pull out Fluzzy and take a few shots to get the camera setup and ready for anything that caught her eye further along the trail.

After a few shots we continued on all the while spying the bottom of the trail with Station Creek in sight. The creek is a gentle flowing creek through the bottom of the trail area. The creek added to the tranquil setting of the woods. Upon reaching the bottom of the descent the trail continues for a nice little stint along the creek. At one point you come to a point where the creek runs into the trail bends around and back through the trail again. To cross the trail, is a nice foot bridge with a spot, halfway through, that allows you to take a branch off the trail to the trailhead for Honey Tree Trail. There is a nice clearing in this area and the junction is more like a cross roads. Off to the left you can rejoin the Greenleaf trail and continue the trek back up to the Amphitheatre and the end of the trail.

It was in this area we stopped for thirty minutes or more while Robin played with the camera, take shots of anything that caught her eye. Of course our trusty sidekick Beene was a bit distraught as she could continue to walk and stop and sniff the whole trail, but it wasn't long before she was happy to do just that.

It wasn't long that we were back on our way up the trail and a few more shots taken with the camera that we started the inevitable trek back up the hill. The ascent back to the Amphitheatre wasn't to bad at all. Total elevation change on the trail is roughly 160 ft. We got back to the car unhitch our packs and ventured back towards home. By the end of the day our spirits had been lifted by the thought that winter is now behind us and a new hiking season lays before us.

Until next time, remember to tread lightly, get out and enjoy what mother nature has to offer for us, and always take the road less traveled. There is always adventure out there waiting to be found.

Robin and Tim

Now for some of the photos:

Ashby laying in the Sun.

Ashby through the looking branch.

Free and Pretty Spirits in the Woods

Legs swinging free

Tim and Beene at a junction

Spring is springing

Another sign of Spring

Ashby Creekside

The Bridge to Somewhere

Robin and Tim adventure again.