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Rough Creek - Very Rough

by Danny Bernstein — last modified Nov 11, 2013 08:55 AM
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Rough Creek - on Cherry Cove Trail

Burrs in my bra, twigs in my trousers.

That's what I picked out after a day at Rough Creek in the Canton Watershed. Lenny and I were scouting his hike for Carolina Mountain Club. The general plan was to go up the road and eventually up to Cherry Cove Trail. It had been a long time since we hiked Rough Creek and our knowledge was spotty.

Rough Fork - Over the fenceThe Rough Creek area had been Canton's watershed in the early 1900s. When it became too small for that purpose, the area was logged. It almost became a nuclear waste dump site by the US Department of Energy in the mid-1980's. These plans were halted when citizens from the area took samples of Rough Creek's water to Washington, showing the creek water's cleanliness and purity. It's now been put under conservation easement through Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

Protecting the land is one thing. Maintaining the trails is another.

After the second intersection, we continued up the left side of the trail. We climbed a steep overgrown bank and started clipping. After a short while and a few hundred feet up, we decided that we weren't on a trail; we were creating a trail. We turned around and went back down to the second turn and continued on the road. That was easy walking in the sunshine. Why couldn't we just continue on the road?

The map in the CMC database showed that we should take Cherry Cove Trail. Up we went. First the trail was even blazed with a red paw. See above. That was encouraging.

But after maybe less than a mile, the trail became overgrown with briars, brambles and blackberry stalks. But we were on a trail; we were sure of that. So we kept clipping even while I was being pricked by briars. I swallowed some clipping dust and started coughing. Even if we could go through this mess, would other hikers follow us?

Back down we went. We continued on the road loop. Just doing the loop road would not be an all-day hike. So Lenny came up with another plan. But it means another scouting trip.

The CMC hike is scheduled for Sunday Dec 1, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We'll have it all figured out by then. So plan to come and explore the Canton Watershed. 

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Pat Salter
Pat Salter says:
Nov 11, 2013 11:02 AM

We were there a couple of years ago and found the trail very badly overgrown, as you say, but managed to get through it. Then we got caught in a thunderstorm, and lightening came down that gate just before we got to it on our way back out We were very hesitant in opening it, but had no choice. Best of luck to you next time!

David Tate
David Tate says:
Nov 16, 2013 07:35 PM

Just to update you on the condition of Cherry Cove Trail. On 11/16/13, six volunteers spent 5 hours clearing 26 trees from blocking the trail, and weedeating all of the undergrowth on the trail. The trail is in great shape & should provide a stellar hike for your Dec. 1st hike!

Lenny Bernstein
Lenny Bernstein says:
Nov 16, 2013 08:28 PM


Thanks for the speedy response. Danny and I will go out again to scout the full circuit before I lead the CMC hike on Dec. 1. Now I can focus on the views and the bets place to have lunch rather than the condition of the trail.

Lenny Bernstein
Lenny Bernstein says:
Nov 16, 2013 08:32 PM


Thanks for your quick response. Danny and I will go out again to scout the CMC hike before I lead it on Dec. 1. Now we can focus on the views and the best place to have lunch rather than the condition of the trail. I'll let you know how things go on the actual hike.

David Tate
David Tate says:
Nov 17, 2013 10:56 AM

Just a side note, I think the overgrown area Danny is describing in her post(at the second intersection)is a part of the boundary road that is generally not hiked as part of the trail system. It is so steep, that, unless conditions are just right, for safety reasons the town does not mow. It is way to easy for the mower operator to get into trouble on that if his tractor starts to slip. So, I imagine that is still overgrown. For lunch, we generally either eat along the grassy road with the views of the Smoky's crest located between the 2 sections of Cherry Cove Trail, or at the rocky overlook just beyond the start of the western trailhead of upper section of Cherry Cove Trail.

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