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Little Table Rock

posted Jun 15, 2018, 3:39 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 26, 2018, 4:20 PM ]
Sunday morning, we broke camp and left Linville Falls.  We got on NC-181 south towards Morganton for a few miles and turned onto FR-496, following the gravel road for about a mile to where it crossed over Steels Creek and parked.  Just upstream from the road is Upper Steels Creek Falls.  I scrambled up to the base of the waterfall, but there was a lot of downfall all over the place.

While Upper Steels Creek is just above the road, Newt Falls is just below.  However, it was a lot harder to reach.  We hiked back on the road a short ways to an old trailhead for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  The trail has since been rerouted, but we followed the old trail to where it crossed Steels Creek at the top of Newt Falls.

Getting down would be really difficult, so Sandy stayed with Alex up on the trail, while I made the difficult bushwhack down.  I came to a spot where I could get out into the creek at the base of the upper section of this waterfall.  I wasn't expecting much, but this upper section was really scenic and worth the challenging climb down.

There was more waterfall below, but no easy way to get further down.  With Sandy and Alex waiting, I just headed back up.  Then we went back to NC-181 and backtracked to Gingercake Road and headed up towards Table Rock in Linville Gorge.  Parking at the trailhead for Spence Ridge Trail we started out following it gradually downhill.  In under a mile, we went left on Little Table Rock Trail and continued heading down.  It would be a lot of uphill to get to Table Rock now.  After crossing a tributary, the trail started heading up and very steeply.  The heat and humidity made the climb up very strenuous.  We took a couple breaks and finally made it.  Just before the end a short spur led to Little Table Rock with nice views of Linville Gorge.

We also had a nice view of Table Rock towering above.  At the Mountains to Sea Trail, we turned right and hiked down towards the picnic area.  A Virginia rose was blooming along the trail.

Past the parking area, we continued on MST out towards the Chimneys.  There were great views of the gorge from along the trail.

A couple spots required a little rock scrambling and Forest Service doesn't recommend pets on the trail, but Alex had no trouble.

Near the Chimneys, we found a nice shady spot to eat lunch and enjoy the views.  Looking east, the Blue Ridge escarpment and foothills drop drastically down to the Piedmont.

On the way back, there was a nice view of Table Rock from the parking area.

But we passed on going up to Table Rock as it was so hot and Alex was struggling with the heat.

There were some spiderwort and fire pink blooming along the table as we made the gradual ascent.

After passing the turn leading up to Table Rock it would be almost all downhill from here.

We followed the MST from Table Rock down to FR-210 and turned left to follow the road a short ways to our car to finish out the weekend.  We stopped at Cook Out on the way home so Alex could get a hot dog for dinner.