Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Franklin-Marion State Forest
West Rim Trail 19.5 Miles Trail rating Easy...Outcast Total: 505 Miles
Sweden Cove trail warm up 1.0 Miles
Two Day Total 20.5
First off, it takes an act of God to get a map of this place. You will not get any helpful information on the Internet. You can get a map at the ranger station that is north of Hwy 41A on Fire Tower Road next to the fire tower. This is not in the park. They are not opened on weekends or most hours of the week. They will mail you a black and white copy of this map which will help you none at all. There is a trail description that is posted next to a map at the unused Ranger station at the park. You cannot get a copy of this description. I took a picture of it and typed it out when I got home. So now that we have that clear:
Troy, Marco, and I head out after work. As usual everyone makes fun of us because of the weather and sure enough as we head down I-24 we start with the snow flurries. They get heavier as we get closer to Sewanee.
We got on the trail at 9:30. Since anyone can hike the trail according to the description, we hike it backwards going counter clockwise around the park. It took us right at a half mile before we made a wrong turn. Since we didn’t know the name of the trail, which isn’t written on the map or description, we took a turn at the first sign that said Swedon Cove hiking trail. After we ended up crossing 156 again, I consulted the map, backtracked a half mile, crossed the campground and found a sign for the West rim trail. Yep, that’s the name we were hunting. We call that an Outcast warm up.
Once we got on the trail it was very well marked and at most road crossings you got a letter A-W in order that corresponded with the map. It is a very well maintained trail and easy to follow.
The first four and half miles were through the woods and then we hiked the rim of Crooked Tree Hollow. One of the concerns that we had was water supply. After we were assured that there was no water on the trail when we picked up the map, I copied the trail description and every other line was “Cross Creek.” We didn’t have any problem finding water.
Marco was again a source of entertainment for us on the trail. First off when we came to a split in the trail, he had warmed up and took off his jacket. We went on by him and a little while later he asked me if his jacket was still on the back of his pack. NO! He ended up hiking back to the split and found his jacket hanging on the sign where he took it off. He had tied it to his pack and then rubbed it off on the sign when he put his pack on. Next, he had bought a new camera and was proud of it all week before this hike. He put fresh rechargeable batteries in it for the trip. When we got to Crooked Tree Hollow where the scenery really got good, his batteries died. When he got home and read the instructions he found out that he had gotten the wrong batteries.
The campground that is marked on the map on the West side has a beautiful view but is literally trashed. It is sad that people will ruin a good thing. I did take a picture of the Red Neck toilet with the appropriate empty beer cans. We made camp around 4:00 at the ten-mile mark including our warm up. It is marked on the map as N.
We set up our camp and then collected firewood. I pushed over an old rotten tree that I thought we could use as a bench. I couldn’t move it by myself so I went on collecting wood. Marco walked by it and saw something move. It ran up a tree next to him and it looked like a chipmunk. As all three of us watched him reach the top, it jumped and flew to the ground by me about 30 feet away. It was a flying squirrel, which I have never seen other than on TV. We all got excited about that! Later when I was telling my daughter about that she let me know that “it doesn’t take much to get you excited”.
We got on the trail by 9:00 the next morning. The low was only 18 degrees. It was another beautiful day for hiking. We continued east, crossed 156, and ate lunch at Stromeyer overlook that looks over Sweeten cove at marker H. After a short siesta we headed on to the cars. Both of the campgrounds on the east side of the park were clean.
When I got to where we could see 156, I beat Troy to the punch and did the run while doing push ups with my hiking poles over my head as he had shown me in the past. You know that Troy joined in an ran to the end as well.
We would recommend this hike. Very well kept and beautiful.