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Old Fort Hikes

posted Sep 7, 2018, 2:48 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 4:24 PM ]
Saturday, I headed out to the mountains for Labor Day Weekend.  Sandy had to work at the last minute, so I went out solo and tried not to get too many waterfalls without her.  I had a reservation for camping at Curtis Creek and didn't want to add too much extra driving so went to Old Fort for my first hike.  Parking at the picnic area, I backtracked to Old US-70 and headed to the eastern trailhead for Point Lookout Trail (#203).  Point Lookout Trail is a paved trail following the old route of US-70 and had nice views of the foothills and Royal Gorge.

In about 2 miles, I reached Point Lookout with a nice long range view towards Old Fort through the gorge.  This was once a popular stopping point along US-70 when it followed this route.

Finishing the trail at the other end, I followed the road towards I-40 and then to the trailhead for Kitsuma Peak trail (#205).  This trail runs right along the interstate then steeply climbs up its namesake via switchbacks.  The summit of Kitsuma Peak is forested but some cliffs on the north side provide nice views towards Asheville and the Black Mountains.

I took a little break here as it had been a steep climb up and enjoyed the views.

After a short rest, I followed Youngs Ridge Trail (#206) back to the Old Fort Picnic Area.  My next stop was the Catawba Falls trailhead.  Being a Saturday on a holiday weekend, the parking area was packed but I found a spot.  I got my stuff together and set off on the trail.  Since the last time I visited, a bridge was built over Catawba River near the start right where the ruins from the hydroelectric station are.

No more rock hopping the river.  It was really crowded at Catawba Falls so I headed steeply up to the upper falls, which is my favorite one.

A few people were swimming here.  One guy climbed part way up the falls and did a headstand - no wonder so many people die at this one.  After some pictures I headed back down.  It was still crowded at Catawba Falls and poor lighting for a picture.

Heading back, I climbed down for one more waterfall, Lower Catawba Falls.

It looked like part of the dam had washed away, but this one was really scenic in higher water.  Then I made the short hike back to the car.  After stopping in Old Fort for dinner, I headed to Curtis Creek to set up camp.  When I arrived, McDowell County Sheriff's Deputies were blocking my site.  Another camper was drinking (no alcohol permitted in Curtis Creek) and being rowdy so I guess they were issuing a citation.  After they left, I was able to set up.  Once the deputies left, the guy cracked another beer and turned up the music on his truck.  And soon enough, US Forest Service Rangers came by again and gave another citation.  Didn't kick them out though.  There was still an hour or so of daylight and I didn't really want to hang around camp with all the drama, so made the short hike to Hickory Branch Falls.

It was very scenic in the evening light.  As the sun began to set, I hiked back to camp and went to sleep.  Fortunately, the rowdy family quieted down after dark.