Hiking Snowbird - September 28

We took a very, VERY short vacation to Tennessee to see some family and friends recently.  Since we were on vacation we decided it wouldn’t be a complete trip without a visit to our favorite National Scenic Trail and took Gracie along for the walk.  We had originally planned to hike Mt. Sterling this day, but due to cloudy weather and the summit being engulfed in clouds, we packed up our dog and headed out to hike Snowbird.  We chose Snowbird over Max Patch for a few reasons - we wanted to hike more than just a few miles and we wanted solitude.  Max Patch is always busy, especially on weekends and considering you can park less than half a mile from the summit, the choice was easy. 

We parked on the side of Green Corner Road, less than a quarter mile from Standing Bear Hostel, and started up the trail.  We immediately passed two older gentleman moving very slowly and walking like they were in a lot of pain.  The packs they were carrying were easily more than 65 pounds.  We said hello and continued our way up the trail.  The trail was very dry and the gentle uphill grade made for smooth sailing up the hill.  We passed a group of boys and four adults, all of whom weren’t very talkative, about 2 miles from the summit.  When we reached the top we had the place to ourselves and talk about a view!  Even though the sky was overcast and the bald was overgrown, we had 180-degree viewing of seven different ridgelines.  The mountains around were the signature Southern Appalachian blue you always see hiking down south. 

We took a snack break and headed over to the other side of the bald, near the FAA tower, to take in the views toward the French Broad River.  Heading back down was quick and we took our time heading downhill, taking photos and goofing off.  About a mile and a half from the road we passed the two older gentleman again, one of whom looked to be having a really rough time now.  Still, they were friendly and kept on going.  We got back down to the car and had finished the hike in about 3 hours.  I took Gracie up the road a little bit and let her play in the creek, a site where I had some pretty epic trail magic during my thru hike. 

Snowbird was a great hike for us since we were short on time, but wanted to really pack in some substantial miles.  We did the 10 mile hike in about 3 hours with plenty of time to hang out up top.  The really fun part of this hike was that NoKey and I hadn’t met on trail yet, so we were experiencing this mountain together for the first time.  

The photos above are: the trail headed down Snowbird (and how different does it look in the fall?!); NoKey taking in the view from the Summit with the Blue Ridge Mountains behind him; a hint of fall color in the south; a view of the AT through the Smokies… Mt. Sterling is the tall one in front with the clouded summit; Gracie enjoying the view; NoKey in the Green Tunnel; NoKey hanging out between double blazes.