Saturday, October 28, 2023 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM EDT
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North Chick Trailhead 

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Hike Manager 
Wild Ones - Tennessee Valley Chapter 

Wild Ones Members Only Hike
North Chickamauga Creek Gorge (Pocket Wilderness) with Zach Irick

Hike Details: Southeastern Grasslands Institute botanist and southern grassland ecologist Zach Irick will lead this day hike along the Cumberland Trail through North Chickamauga Creek Gorge (Pocket Wilderness), Barker Camp Rd. to Montlake Rd. segment, Soddy Daisy, TN.

Join Zach Irick and fellow Wild Ones members for a day of fall colors and wildflower viewing along the Cumberland Trail at North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area. This incredible segment of trail is an amazing local feature. The waterway is currently being advanced to state scenic river designation and the entire SNA as potential state park status within the next year. The hikers will pass through several ecosystems, including upland woods, scrubland, seeps, creeks, waterfall pools, open slopes, outcrops and cliffsides. 

At least 11 state or federal listed plants and several other threatened and beautiful plants thrive within this prior Bowater pocket wilderness. Though these rare plants have finished their blooming period, we still may encounter the foliage of: Diervilla lonicera, Diervilla rivularis, Gaultheria procumbens, Glyceria acutiflora, Lonicera dioica, Nestronia umbellula, Panax quinquefolius, Phemeranthus mengesii, Sabatia capitata, Scutellaria montana, Spiraea virginiana, Thermopsis mollis, Viola tripartita, and Woodwardia virginica.

We will meet up at the main parking at 354 Montlake Rd, Soddy-Daisy, TN near the mouth of the gorge and caravan from there to the Barker Camp Rd trailhead parking where we will leave most of the vehicles.  We then carpool over to the "Hall Rd" trailhead.  From there we will be hiking one way back to the cars, so when we are finished, those who did not drive to the Hall Rd trailhead can drive home from the finishing spot. A lightly forested descending to level trail with overlooks leads to a steep descent into the rich coves and creekside trail.  This takes us about 8.5 miles to "Paradise" where we finally encounter Caine Creek entering the N. Chickamauga Creek. We’ll have lunch, rehydrate, and take in the views along the way. Several bridges for creek crossings, giant rock houses, rain dependent falls, hemlock and rhododendron coves can be found.  We then come to an ascent of about 650 ft. This area leads abruptly out of the gorge, then very gradually ascends back to the trailhead.  Plan on viewing late blooming goldenrod and aster, plus the fall colors of sugar maple (Acer saccharum), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), shining sumac (Rhus copallinum), farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), hillside blueberries (Vaccinium pallidum) and bush honeysuckle (Diervilla rivularis). 

Rating A mix of easy to moderate, on various smooth, rocky or gravel trails, with bridges for  creek crossings. Overall this hike is considered to be ruggedly moderate.

Start Time and Place:  8:00 am Eastern, at 354 Montlake Rd., Soddy-Daisy, TN with coordinates: (35.23576279895494, -85.22569834499035) A large gravel parking for NCCG SNA. Carpool/caravan from there about 15 minutes to Barker Camp Rd. trailhead.

Distance: 10.2 miles. Trail is one way. Plan on utilizing the whole day before getting home, considering the terrain.

Additional Information:  

Distancing precautions recommended. Bring snacks and lunch, enough water and/or water filter, insect repellent, sunscreen, wear layers, appropriate shoes for hiking and/or Teva or similar footwear that can dry quickly and hiking poles/stick. Dinner will be on your own. No pets at any of our Wild Ones hikes please.

Limit:  15 participants

This program is free and open to Tennessee Valley Chapter Wild Ones members, including family.  Please make sure your membership is up to date.

Related helpful links:

Vascular Flora of NCCG SNA

North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy