Asheville Adventure of the Week: Grey Eagle Rock hike

by Dryridgeinn on July 26, 2014

What: Swannanoa Valley Rim Hike No. 6 – Grey Eagle Rock.

When: Noon Saturday.

Where: Meet at the Swannanoa Valley Museum, 223 West State St., Black Mountain.

Cost: $45, or $25 for museum members.

Registration: Email info@swannanoavalleymuseum.org or call 669-9566.

Details: The sixth installment in the 11-month Swannanoa Valley Rim Explorer Hiking Series, the Grey Eagle Rock segment is a strenuous 3.1 mile trek. For those who began the program in February or newcomers looking for a physical challenge, the midday adventure provides a difficult yet rewarding time in the woods.

Covering part of the Old Mitchell Trail that travelers on horseback used to take up to Mount Mitchell in the 1800s and an off-trail section that requires a bit of bushwhacking, the hike also features the series’ steepest portion in its climb up the southeast face of Potato Knob. Though a good deal of perseverance is required to reach the top, the copious Fraser firs and natural scenery that awaits makes the effort worthwhile.

“If weather is good and clear, the views are incredible. There are 360-degree views of the valley on either side,” said Anne Chesky Smith, executive director of the Swannanoa Valley Museum, which organizes the series.

The hike’s elevation change additionally brings with it a significantly different environment than that of the museum starting point, producing cooler temperatures that are a pleasure in the hot summer months.

“Wendell Begley, who’ll be leading the hike, describes it like spending a day in the Canadian Rockies,” Chesky Smith said.

The Grey Eagle Rock hike is capped at 35 people, as is the Patton’s Table section on Aug. 16. During the latter moderate-to-difficult 5.3-mile stretch, hikers will witness what has been deemed some of the most spectacular scenery on the entire 900-plus mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

What to Bring: Sturdy hiking boots, rain gear, a long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen, personal first aid items, plenty of liquids, hearty food and a daypack to carry all personal items.

Information: Call Chesky Smith at 669-9566 or email info@swannanoavalleymuseum.org.

Edwin Arnaudin

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