Thursday, July 15, 2010

Long Branch Connector Trail to Cloudland Canyon

On a hot July 7th, fourteen hikers met in St. Elmo and took off for the first ever hike by members of Chattanooga Hiking Group on this newly designated trail. This trail is 5.6 miles and is part of the proposed 14-mile corridor trail that will run from Nickajack Road in Walker County, Georgia to Cloudland Canyon State Park and will connect the state park to Lula Lake. The Lula Lake Land Trust turned over management of the section to Cloudland Canyon S. P.

After dropping off most of the hikers at the trail head, the drivers drove a few miles away and parked alongside a church. (This was a short distance from where the trail ended.) Back at the trail head, the others had gotten ready by doing what has to be done on occasion. For instance, relieving their bladders. I saw the sign pointing to the 'privy' and thought, how nice! Later, I was told the sign at the 'privy' instructed users to take advantage of the woods! Also noted, was the wooden 'changing area' built near the parking lot. Again, how nice, except that the slats were well wide enough to see through! One has to wonder who was in charge of the construction??

After getting on the well-marked trail, we enjoyed the shade of the foliage. The trail was easy with gradual climbs in a few places. Well-constructed wooden bridges took us across the three creeks we came to so we didn't even have to get our feet wet! We passed a couple of dogs with their owners close behind. At one point, we came out of the woods into a clearing where power lines climbed the ridge and just across the way the trail passed through a cluster of ready-to-pick blackberries. The berries were sweet, juicy, and well worth fighting the thorns.

Several folks noticed the insects on this hike: spiders of all kinds, granddaddy long-legs, huge red ants, and regular ole' ants scurried as we trudged on the trail.

We emerged from the woods and walked the short distance down the road to the church. Arriving back at the trail head, everyone quickly got in to their cars. Most were anxious to get back to Chatt Town and enjoy lunch at Mt. Vernon. And it did not disappoint. Yum!

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