Leader: Joe DeLoach, 423-753-7263
Trail 4 miles round trip with 1000 ft elevation gain
North of Boone are some high but seldom visited mountains sometimes referred to as the Amphibolite Mountains, for the hard, alkaline rock that underlies them. The alkaline soil and high elevations create a habitat that harbors a large number of rare plants, with some species reaching their highest population density along the rocky cliffs and mountain bogs in this area. That scenery and biodiversity, coupled with a lack of public land, has led to land trusts working to preserve areas within these mountains such as Bluff Mountain and Long Hope Valley. One such area is [[Elk Knob State Park]]. In 2002, 5540′ Elk Knob was purchased by The Nature Conservancy and later conveyed to the State of North Carolina as first a natural area, then a state park. Initially the summit could be reached by a very steep gravel road, but some excellent trail construction work has resulted in completion of a new, hardened sidehill trail not unlike the A. T. heading up Round Bald. The new trail leads 2 miles to the top of Elk Knob which has two very nice overlooks, one at the summit looking north towards Mt. Rogers and the Grayson Highlands and one a little below the top looking south towards Grandfather and Roan Mountains. Though this is a great wildflower hike with many trillium in early May and Gray’s lilies and flame azalea in June, the Club’s first hike of Elk Knob will be a fall color hike. We’ll meet in Colonial Heights in the parking lot between McDonald’s and State of Franklin Bank on Saturday, October 8 at 8:30. We’ll have a pretty but curvy drive through Blountville and across Holston and Iron Mountains to Mountain City, then continue to Trade where gravel Rich Mountain Road crosses a high gap between Rich and Snake Mountains and deposits us near 4500′ Pottertown Gap, the entrance to Elk Knob State Park. We’ll take time to enjoy the woods along the way, the views and lunch at the top, and should be back to Kingsport by 4:00 pm. The hike is suitable for children; families are encouraged. Bring lunch, water, and layers of clothing including rain gear as October in the high country can be unpredictable. For more information or to sign up, please contact Joe.