Saturday, December 19, 2015

December 16, 2015 - Rock Quarry Rd, Micajah Trail, Rock Ridge Rd - DuPont State Forest

When I saw Dave and Jeff the other day, we were discussing other trails in DuPont.  Dave dropped a hint about the Micajah Trail, so that's the area Cindy and I decided to explore today.

The Micajah Trail runs between Rock Quarry Rd and Buck Ridge Rd in DuPont.  Both roads are closed to vehicle traffic, but open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.  The trails are near the Corn Mill Shoals access area of DuPont, but we parked right where Rock Quarry Rd meets Cascade Lake Rd.  This is 0.1 miles down Cascade Lake Rd once you turn left from Staton Rd.  There's enough room for 2-3 vehicles to park here without blocking 'official vehicle' access to the road.

The hike begins as an easy stroll up the road.  About 1/4 up the road, the Micajah Trail comes in from the left, but we had decided to get on that trail from the other end.  In about 1/2 mile up Rock Quarry Rd, we came to a large clearing and just beyond that are rocks and boulders of various sizes.  That would explain how the road got it's name.

rock quarry

Just beyond this, a sign points the way as the road bears to the left.  An unmarked road continues straight, so I went up it a short distance.  There were a couple of places where it looks like blasting had occurred, so I'm guessing it's just part of the quarry.  Back on the Rock Quarry Rd trail, we continued for a short distance to a 4-way intersection.  We could tell from the map that Rock Quarry Rd turned to the right, but it wasn't marked very well.  We also saw on the map that this would just end at private property, but we wanted to see what was up there.  After a 1/2 mile, the road was blocked by a wire gate to prevent ATV's from coming in.  Just before the DuPont property ends is a winter view looking through the trees towards the Mt. Pisgah area and the Black Mountains to the right of that.  The Pisgah Inn on the Parkway was also visible today!  I didn't take a shot as there were more trees in the view than there was view.

We headed back to the 4-way intersection and took Buck Ridge Rd which is the trail that is straight across.  Turning right would have put us on Buckhorn Creek Rd (trail), but we're saving that for another day.  Buck Ridge Rd is listed at 0.6 miles and is an easy hike along a ridge line. 

Buck Ridge Rd

The map shows the trail ending where the Micajah Trail turns left, but Buck Ridge Rd continues a short distance into a wildlife clearing.  It was about lunch time and we saw some bare rock off to the left in the clearing, so we took a break here.

There actually wasn't a lot of 'bare' rock as you can see in the above picture.  A lot of lichen is growing on the rock and we had to be very careful where we stepped and put packs down.  If you are walking and hear crunching under foot, you are walking on and probably killing lichen that you might not notice!

After lunch we headed back to the Micajah Trail which is a narrower trail through the woods.  About 1/4 mile down this trail we came out to a much larger bedrock area and the reason Dave had dropped this hint.  This area is similar to Cedar Rock in DuPont, but the view isn't as good.  It's still a very interesting area and one we will be returning to in warmer months.  There was a lot of water seeping down from above the bare rock and there's a possibility for some uncommon plants to be found.

We hung out here for quite a while before hitting the trail again.  This trail is about a mile long and mostly down hill coming from the direction that we did.  We passed the Wilkie Trail on our right before reaching the end of the Micajah Trail back at Rock Quarry Rd.  The Wilkie Trail is accessed by parking at the Corn Mill Shoals parking area, then walking a short distance south on Cascade Lake Rd.  We had a little more time to kill, so we did this trail also.  It's only 0.4 miles in length and gains about 100' in elevation before ending at the Micajah Trail.  This trail showed potential for warmer weather wildflowers, so we'll be back in a few months.

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