The Laurel, is offering something a bit new for 2015 – a readers’ poll. Each month we’re going to offer up suggestions of areas around the plateau and ask which is your favorite. Write in suggestions are also welcomed.
For April, let us know which might be your favorite spot for a moderate hike. Now, we know this is a totally subjective call as moderate for one might not necessarily be moderate to someone else. But we have to start somewhere, right?
So here we go…your choices are:
Whiteside Mountain; Bartram Trail/Whiterock Mountain or The Chattooga Loop Trail (Information on these hikes was gathered online and from personal experience)
Whiteside Mountain is a National Recreation Trail. This loop climbs an old roadbed and travels along the brink of some of the East’s most spectacular cliffs. Named for these cliffs, the mountain’s side does look “white” from a distance with sun shining on the light gray granite. From Highlands, follow US 64 East for 5.4 miles. Turn right onto Whiteside Mountain Road. (SR 1600). There is a sign for Whiteside Mountain Recreation Area. Follow for one mile to the signed parking area on the left.
Bartram Trail – Jones Gap to Whiterock Mountain is a 4.6 mile out and back trail located near Highlands and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is dog friendly. Follow Highway 64 West 4.6 miles. Watch for the Cliffside Lake entrance on the right. Just past Cliffside Lake, turn left on Turtle Pond Road. Follow Turtle Pond Road for 1.1 miles to Dendy Orchard Road. Turn right on Dendy Orchard Road and follow it for 1.4 miles. This will become a steep dirt road. At the top of the hill, turn left onto Jones Gap Road. A Bartram Trail sign indicates this road. Follow it two miles to a parking area at the top of the gap.
The Chattooga Loop Trail is almost a 2-mile loop trail that begins to the left of the Iron Bridge. From Highlands proceed East on Main Street, becomes Horse Cove Road, for 4.5 miles to intersection with Bull Pen and Whiteside Cove Roads. Turn right onto Bull Pen Road (#1178) and proceed for 3.1 miles to Iron Bridge. The trailhead is on left just before bridge.
Just visit our Facebook page (The Laurel Magazine) and log in your vote. Next month we’ll publish our results. Have fun and enjoy your hike.
by Jenny King | photo of Whiteside Mountain by Charles Johnson