This winter I established a walking trail around the farm for my daily walks because I don’t like walking on the road so much. I not only walk it for regular exercise but will also carry a pack when getting ready for big trips. Now with Covid-19 it is great to have.
Below is the elevation profile for the basic loop which has 110′ gain and loss in a mile, I have a figure 8 version which has 175′ of gain and loss in 1.4 miles.
There is a lot of wildlife- deer, bobcat, raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, fox, beaver, river otters, muskrat, coyote, probably black bear, wild turkey, great blue and green herons, ducks, lots of hawks and many song birds.
Leaving the house walking west through mature white oaks, beeches and hickories
It is a steep rocky 20’ elevation drop down to Big Branch
Following the banks west
At .1 of a mile cross under a power line
Leaving the creek you re-enter the mixed hardwood forest
Now heading south, begin the 70’ climb to the top of the farm.
You can begin to see the fields ahead
At .2 of a mile you break out into the open with a large blueberry patch on your left
Continue the long elevation gain up through the fields,
You will notice the well protected vegetable fields with 8’ fencing backed by electric wire,
Nearing the top of the field make sure to take a break to appreciate the long climb you have just made.
Turning east now you begin the long 90’ descent back to Big Branch. First passing three large wild persimmons.
Re-enter the woods
This is the steepest part of the descent as you pass some large pines you reach the first switchback
Reaching the second switchback you begin to see the pond below
At .6 miles reach the pond dam and a brief respite from the down hill
During hot weather a cool swim will be welcome.
You will follow a woods road for a few yards before dropping off to the right, this road is also the high water alternate route.
The trail now winds through a temperate bottom land forest, not unlike Congaree NP.
This bottom land floods several times a year, including last week when it was thigh deep, a large sycamore
At .65 miles reach the hardest part of the trail to build, cutting through the cat briar and poison ivy and building the “bridge” across the overflow from our lower pond.
After heavy rains expect some wet areas
At .7 miles reach the banks of Big Branch again, this is the lowest point of the hike at 395’. Through the trees is a big field and the Haw River only a quarter of a mile away. That big black walnut slowly being undercut, with its roots exposed, will come down some day.
Turn north and follow the creek, you can see the line of the silt deposits on the leaves from the last flood
Leaving the creek for a while, pass this mysterious tree, I think a hackberry even though not in their native range.
Regain the creek where a major wildlife trail crosses.
At .8 of a mile reach the bottom field
Follow the mowed path to the end of the field with the creek to your right.
At .9 of a mile re-enter the woods
You will soon pass the pre 1850’s mill stones, the other one is leaning on the edge of the creek. The mill stones were used to grind soil and gravels dug out of the surrounding hillsides for gold.
The creek now takes a sharp turn to the west
Passing a giant long leaf pine as you look back south to the field
Head west on the very edge of the creek passing many wild azaleas
You will reach the place where the old mill dam used to cross the creek but was blown out sometime in the 40’s.
You now begin the steep climb up the nose of the dam,
A look back down the drop
Almost back to the house with a long look up Big Branch
Reaching another woods road you are now on the last stretch of the 30’ climb back to the house
After one mile a well deserved rest is in store on the deck unless you do another lap