13 Dec Bartram Trail – Wallace Creek to Wayah Bald
Though unseasonably warm, I suppose most people spent their weekends at Christmas parties rather than on overnight hiking trips. I was the only overnight hiker. I met a day hiker on the 2nd day and a trail runner on the first day.
The trail ran over the ridge crossing knobs and peaks so that there were more ups and downs than I expected. Even the “down hill” return hike had steep climbs. I counted a total of 13 ascents on the return to Wallace Creek. The “up hill” direction would have had 14 ascents with the first and last being the longest and most difficult. Wallace Branch TH is at 2240 ft. Wayah Bald, the highest point on the Bartram Trail is at 5342 ft.
The trail was steep, but smooth with the occasional rock, root, or stump marked with red paint. This was evidently to make the ultra-distance runners aware of tripping hazards. This trail is the site for the Naturalist Epic 25k and 50k runs. Naturalist Run . I found the steep ascents and descents exhausting. It is hard to imagine running this trail all of the way to the top of Wayah Bald or in the case of the 50k event, running round-trip.
Nearly all this section was open oaks and hardwoods. The trail alternated between the east side of the ridge and west side of the ridge, but just as often went straight up the ridge. There were many long distance tree obstructed winter views of Wayah Bald, Wesser Bald, Standing Indian, and Albert Mountain. I could just barely make out the fire tower on Albert Mountain.
Having completed this section, I have now hiked the entire 100 miles of the Georgia and North Carolina Bartram trails.
– Hiked on December 12 – 13, 2015
– About 25 miles round trip.