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236 Honey Creek Loop Trail 2010-06-02

Honey Creek Overlook

After visiting the Folk Celebration at Cordell Hull State Park, we drove to Big South Fork National Park. Our destination was the Honey Creek Loop Trailhead. Once turning off of Highway 52, we found that we did not know the directions to the trailhead. There were roads coming in from the right and left which were not on our map. There were intersections without any signs. There were junctions with signs to places we did not want to go. We did not know exactly where we were. Making logical choices at each crossing we finally saw a sign. Thankfully, we were less that a tenth of a mile from our destination. We had found the trailhead, but it was not our fault - we were just lucky.

The Trailhead was a sign posted in the curve of a gravel road. No one else was parked at there.

We were late and needed to start as soon as possible. We had a little over 6 hours until dark; but we had been warned that the trail took a long time to hike. We grabbed our packs, trekking poles, and began looking for the trail.

The trail started at a small trail sign down the road a few hundred feet. Leaving the road we climbed a short hill and then entered the jungle. The vegetation began infringing on both sides of the path. Using our hiking sticks we fended off thorns, thistles, and ivies we tries to keep the plants away from our skin. Being veteran Plateau hikers, we also had worn long pants, even though it was hot. The long pants helped shield our legs from the pricks, scrapes, and poisons. We just had to deal with the heat.

Then, there were the bugsā€¦ ticks and gnats. Joining forces the gnats would fly in our eyes and while we were blinded by the gnat attacks, the ticks would jump us. They were everywhere. At every stop we had to have a tick check.

cliffs below the rim of the gorge

With an easy descent the trail lowered to the base of a cliff line. The trail continued along the base of huge mossy cliffs until a junction. The Overlook Trail joined the Honey Creek Loop Trail at that point. From the junction the trail went steadily downhill to the creek below. There was not much water flowing in the Big South Fork River or Honey Creek. My friend, Jon, claimed that the reason there was no water in the river was because it was all in the air. The humidity was oppressive.

The trail then left the river and followed the creek. Soon we were in the creek. We climbed over, walked around, and tunneled under boulders along the creek bed. We walked under, through, and over rockhouses. Our Garmin's were having a fit. The track logs led everywhere as the GPS units searched for signals under the thick canopy and overhanging rocks.

After a couple of hours of Tennessee canyoneering, we exited the creek bed.

An uphill stroll returned us to the parking area; but not before a tick bomb exploded in our vicinity. Hundreds of ticks attacked us at once. Jon was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of ticks. Laura was faint, maybe from blood loss. I did not suffer the same fates as my friends, maybe because I am a vegetarian. I spent fifteen minutes in the parking area watching Jon pick ticks off his clothes and body.

Laura suggested they post a "Beware of Ticks" sign similar to the one at Long Hunter State Park. I agreed!

We all changed clothes and put the tick infested, poison ivy brushed clothes into secure bags. At home the clothes were dumped directly into the washer.

rock cairns in the rockhouses

A few trail notes ...

  • The tread of the trail was mostly uneven.
  • The trail was at times, difficult to follow. It was marked (blazed) many years ago and now some of the signs are missing and the blazes and arrows are faded.
  • Though highly regarded the trail was not well used.
  • There was no litter except around the Overlook.
  • Also near the Overlook there was graffiti on the rock walls (spray paint.)
  • The gnats were annoying.
  • The ticks were maddening! What is that crawling on my leg? Why is my head itching?
  • The poison ivy was everywhere.
  • There was hardly any water in the creeks or river.
  • In the rockhouses someone has been building cairns (stacks of rocks).
  • It took us less than three hours to complete the loop.

Despite all of its faults, the Honey Creek Loop Trail was still a great adventure. Maybe, it was a great adventure because of all of its faults!

Happy Honey Creek trails.


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