2008 Christmas Trip – Asheville NC & Gatlinburg TN
Montreat NC just north of Black Mountain and 15 miles east of Asheville. This place is a must see. What a beautiful community. This is home of Montreat College est. 1897. The scenery here is amazing. Old growth forest with houses and trails nestled throughout. When we were here there was no-one around due to the Christmas holiday. I would have liked to do the Greybeard trails up to Greybeard mtn. had we had enough time before nightfall. We ran around a couple of the trails and walked around the Convention Center and Lake.
Trace Ridge Trail – 8-9 mile loop with 1550ft of elevation gain/loss. I took along the Trails Illustrated Map #780. This is billed as one of the best rides in Asheville on the Bike NC website and also check out the Hike NC website This was a 9 mile or so loop. We hike/ran up Trace Ridge and came down on Spencer Branch to the intersection with the Fletcher Creek Trail and then took a left on Fletcher Creek (we could have stayed straight on Spencer Branch but wasn’t sure where it was going to come out. It ends up coming out at the reservoir where we were headed anyway). At the road we took a right to check out the old reservoir (good place for a picture). From the reservoir it was about a 1.25 mile run back to the car.
Hiking or running in either direction to make a loop would be fine.
Biking – I’d prefer to go counter clockwise and end by going down Trace Ridge. The top of the Spencer Branch trail is hike-a-bike whether you are going up or down. The last 1/3-1/2 mile gains 400ft of elevation and is full of stairs/waterbars. The Trace Ridge Trail looses elevation more gradually but has some steeps that would be a blast going down.
Smokemont Loop Trail to Chasteen Creek Cascades (Hiking Only)– 6.5 mile loop with 1660ft of elevation gain/loss. This was on the way from Asheville to Gatlinburg off of 441N at the Smokemont Campground. We parked at the exit of the campgound in front of the gate where there is an old bridge over the creek. The first 3 miles, of the 4.9 mile Smokemont Loop Trail starts with a pretty good climb. From here the trail drops just as fast as it rose. After you cross the log bridge the trail splits where you will want to head to the right on the Bradley Fork Trail. You will be on this for .5 miles to the intersection with the Chasteen Creek Trail. From here you will want to head to the left for .7 miles on the trail to view the Chasteen Creek Cascades. This trail (a rocky old road) gently climbs. At the .7 mile mark there will be a trail heading off to the left. There is a hitching area for horses and at the back there is a small trail that continues to the cascades. Once you’ve had your fill of cascading water you will want to head back down to the Smokemont Campground (1.9 miles from the cascades; .7 miles on the Chasteen Creek Trail and 1.2 miles on the Bradley Fork Trail).