We were blessed with a very comfortable Sunday afternoon for our 2.6 mile round-trip hike to Laurel Falls. This is a very family-friendly hike with the only somewhat challenging part being the actual walk down and back from the waterfall. This path is make of large stepping stones some of which are easier to navigate than others. But with reasonable care the route is well worth the reward.
There was a decent amount of flow over the falls, but the water level was lower than I had seen it before. Lydia and Paul enjoyed cooling their heels in the creek and several other hikers at the falls were swimming. Extreme care should be taken in the water below the falls since a father and son tragically lost their lives here in July, 2012. There is a small plaque in their memory attached to a rock at the bottom of the steps. Probably the most excitement today came from watching some swimmers (not part of our group) try to capture/kill(?) a small water snake of some kind. We weren’t close enough to tell what kind it was, but they were approaching it like it was a man-eating python. The snake eventually made its escape swimming on down the creek.
Our hiking group consisted of Chris Garrett, Patti Garrett, Lydia Garrett, Paul Garrett, Leticia Brock, Beverly Griggs and Barry Griggs
US 321 to Wilbur Dam Rd. (approx. 4 miles) – All activities except hiking along the Appalachian Trail are prohibited due to recent bear activity.
Hikers are asked to walk through the area without stopping. Preparation or consumption of food, lingering, and camping are prohibited in the area known locally as “Oliver Hollow” by a U.S. Forest Service closure order.
The Watauga Lake Shelter in this stretch is also closed. Even though a “closure order” has been issued to restrict usage of the area, the A.T. is not closed to hiking. These orders are in effect for an 18-month period from June 3, 2014 until December 1, 2015. The official U.S. Forest Service poster can be found here. (June 17, 2014)
On some signs the Forest Service is now using definition of closure area as “Shook Branch Rec area/Oliver Hollow Rd. to Wilbur Dam including Watauga Lake Shelter- Closed”
The National Forest Service lands are closed to most recreation from north of Shook Branch to a half mile north of Wilbur Dam Rd. Bears are active in this area. Individuals are only permitted to hike through this area. Please continue hiking through this area without stopping. Watauga Lake Shelter is closed. No preparation or consumption of food or overnight stays allowed. This closure is effective until December 1, 2015.
Oliver Hollow bear closure map
Garry Luttrell reporting
Event Date: October 19th
Fred Mullner, Serita Blankenbecler, Paula Cahill, and Garry Luttrell enjoyed the stroll, and sometimes rock climbing, up to the summit of Wilburn Ridge. Along the way we saw lots of ponies; in fact, more than I’ve ever seen before on a day’s trip. And, we could say the same for the number of hikers, scouts, groups, dogs, etc. We sat down on the top, opened our snacks, food, and drink; and, it seemed like the wind increased and temperature fell, as if some voice was saying: it’s time for you to move on, and let someone else enjoy the great 360 degree view.
July 9-12. 2012
Last summer we hauled 37 tons of gravel from Carver’s Gap to between Round Bald and Engine Gap. This summer we hauled another 110 tons of ABC aggregate (crusher run) from Carver’s Gap to between Round Bald and Carver’s Gap.
Plans are underway for next year’s Biennial Celebration at ATC Cullowhee. Please see our page and the website for all of the details and to sign up for volunteering!