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This is a nice, easy to moderate in-and-out hike in the Uwharrie National Forest an hour east of Charlotte. More details to follow. From the trail head on highway 24/27 we'll hike 3.4 miles on the Uwharrie Trail to the top of Dennis Mountain (it's not really a mountain, just a hill). We'll have a break, a snack/lunch, and hike back when we darn well feel like it. It will be a pleasant walk through a rolling Piedmont forest, just a couple of minor creek crossings (dry footed) and one short, steep climb up to the summit. Mostly easy, rated moderate because of the steepness (up to 30% grade) the last 500 feet to the summit.
"Stumpy Pond" put-in is on the Catawba River south-west of Lancaster (see map). This stretch of the Catawba is wide and dotted with islands large and small, and numerous coves and inlets that should be fun to explore. We will meetup at the put-in at ten o'clock, paddle about for a couple of hours, pull over for lunch/snacks around noon, paddle a bit more, and head back to the launch site by two. If the weather cooperates it should be a wonderful early fall outing.
We start at 9:00am from the Fontana Dam Visitors Center in Fontana, North Carolina. We take the Appalachian Trail north from there across the dam. We hike up Little Shuckstack Mountain on the AT and down the other side to Sassafras Gap, a distance of 4.5 miles over sometimes strenuous terrain. There we pick up the Lost Cove Creek Trail and head east for another 3.1 miles to Backcountry Campsite #91. We camp there for the night, and in the morning take the Lakeside Trail for 6.8 miles back to its intersection with the AT at the north end of Fontana Dam. The total length of the hike is 14.4 miles. Parts of it are strenuous, the rest moderate to easy. We will spend one night in the woods; you must bring everything you will need with you as there are no facilities along the route. I plan to drive up Thursday evening and spend the night in the AT shelter at Fontana Dam or in a local hotel so as to ensure an early start Friday. You may park overnight at the Visitors Center. We should be finished between 4:00 and 5:00 on Saturday.
We will meet at the Wilson Creek visitors center parking lot (center is closed, parking in grass lot across the street) not later than 11:00am. Travel time from Charlotte to Wilson Creek is about two and a half hours so give yourself plenty of time to get there; we need to start promptly at 11:00 to make sure we finish with plenty of daylight left. From the trailhead we will ascend the Harper Creek Trail for about a half mile, then turn onto the Yellow Buck Mountain Trail (quite steep for the first mile) to the summit of Yellow Buck Mountain. From there the trail meanders another two miles along Long Ridge, descending rapidly the last quarter mile to the north branch of Harper Creek. We cross the creek there (be prepared to get wet!) and continue on the Harper Creek Trail another mile to Bard Falls. Bard Falls is a beautiful waterfall nestled in a heavily wooded ravine. There are lots of boulders for picnicking upon and a very nice swimming hole under the falls. When we are fed and refreshed we will backtrack a mile to the spot where we first crossed Harper Creek, recross it, and continue back along the Harper Creek Trail the Harper Creek Falls. Another swimming and water-frolicking opportunity awaits us there. The walk back to the trailhead from there is about a mile and is mostly flat, descending steeply at the end. Total distance is about eight miles. Trail is rated strenuous for the steep climb up Yellow Buck Mountain.