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Ascent of Little Bearwallow Mountain on 2016-01-03

Climber: Zachary Robbins

Date:Sunday, January 3, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Little Bearwallow Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:3963 ft / 1207 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is one of those peaks I'm not sure why I did it, maybe it's because I realized I did not have time to do a 2nd hike that day. Or it's because I thought I was closer to the summit than I was. My plan was to hike the new trail system to The Cascades on Hickory Creek and Little Bearwallow Falls. I recently hiked Bearwallow Mt and Blue Ridge Pastures and wanted to continue exploring some of the new conservancy trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge. This hike starts at the Florence Nature Preserve parking, cross the road and pick up the trail around an apple orchard. It is helpful to have a topo map of the area, but there is a trail map at the Hickory Creek crossing. So take a mental image or snap a good picture with your phone so you can zoom in and reference later.

Ignore first trail on right directly across creek, goes to private property. Soon you'll encounter another trail on the right. This leads to The Cascades in ~0.3 miles. You can also pass this on the return if you do the loop like I did. I did both haha. From recent rain and snow The Cascades was roaring compared to pictures I've seen. It is only ~8 feet but powerfully funnels into the left crevice of some boulders.

Back on the main trail the climb to Little Bearwallow Falls is moderately steep. Towards the end you'll pass several trail junctions for later. The waterfall is pitiful no matter what the conditions. You'll usually find it just wet rock. I made a point to visit this after some precipitation so there was good flow, but the main attraction is the massive 150 foot cliff it flows over. From there you have a choice, take the pink flagged trail high to the right of the cliff or turn back to find the other flagged trail. Neither are completed trails and both very rugged. They eventually connect to a completed section of the Cliffside Trail that follows a band of cliffs west around the mountain. The Cliffside Trail ends at a T-junction with Little Bearwallow Mountain Trail and continue taking this left/west. It will switchback up to the east and you'll have a decent view of Little Pisgah Mountain.

Here the completed trail ends on the north shoulder of the mountain. You'll probably spy some flagging tape on the right. That is your path. It isn't a path at all, just a bushwhack up the mountain with occasional tape. Maybe eventually they're building a trail here? I know Little Bearwallow Mountain Trail is supposed to connect to Bearwallow Mt in the future but I'm not sure if the trail will pass the summit or not. Anyways, the bushwhack isn't long and you'll find yourself in an unusual clearing that looks like it was an orchard many years ago. A road grade heads east/down with a somewhat open view, ignore this and head south and up. You'll be surprised to find a reasonable trail with white blazes that climbs up to Little Bearwallow Mountain. At the top the perch is somewhat airy with campsites, but no open views. You have winter views but that's it. The trail rambles west along the summit, you can try to find the summit marker but I couldn't.

The hardest part is probably finding your way down the bushwhack, much more difficult to keep a straight line with infrequent flagging tape. A GPS really helps here. I took the other portion of Cliffside Trail below Little Bearwallow Falls. It eventually comes to another trail junction where you turn right and end up at The Cascades again. A lot of effort on this hike for an insignificant peak.

Full hike video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54xIfpK-TG0
Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Zachary Robbins
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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