Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 20, 2015 - Cannon Creek Trail and Buckhorn Creek Rd - DuPont State Forest

These 2 trails are in the most western section of DuPont and the last 2 trails we needed to hike to finish the trails on the west side of Cascade Lake Rd.  We were in the same area on our last hike, but instead of accessing today's trails from either Rock Quarry Rd or Corn Mill Shoals parking, we began the hike at the far end of the Cannon Creek Trail off of Rich Mountain Rd.  If you are on Cascade Lake Rd, drive south until the road ends at US276 in Cedar Mountain.  Turn right, drive about 0.1 miles and turn right on Rich Mountain Rd.  Drive 0.8 miles and park in the small gravel pull off on the right.

Cannon Creek trail head off Rich Mountain Rd

The Cannon Creek Trail begins right off of the parking area and is multi-use trail as are just about all of the trails in DuPont.  It's listed at 1.3 miles and we found it to be fairly easy in difficulty.  Near the beginning of the hike, the trail gets really close to Cannon Creek and I could see from the map that there could be a small waterfall in the area.  Jeff had hiked these trails a couple of days ago and mentioned on his blog that he caught glimpses of a cascade through the thick rhododendron.  Sure enough, less than 5 minutes into the hike, we saw the same.  It was tempting to go down for a look, but we decided to save that for the way back.

Continuing on, the trail heads slightly uphill before crossing Cannon Creek on a footbridge about 1/4 mile into the hike.  The forest in this area appears to be fairly young with a mix of trees with a rhododendron and mountain laurel understory.  1/2 mile into the hike, the trail crosses a tributary of Cannon Creek and continues up to small areas of the bare rock with mosses and lichens communities we saw on the last hike.  The trail begins a slight descent towards it's end after about a mile.  The forest on the left of the trail also begins to change to the white pines we have seen a lot of in DuPont.  There's a trail sign at the official end of the Cannon Creek Trail, but it only has Cannon Creek on it.  After closer inspection on the return hike, we saw that the Buckhorn Creek Rd part of the sign has been torn off somehow.

The map shows Buckhorn Creek Rd going both left and right at this point, but our route took us left.  The right turn is obscured by shrubs and if the sign weren't there, you probably wouldn't notice the flow from the one trail to the other.  Now on the Buckhorn Creek Rd trail, continue through the white pines for another 1/4 mile to the crossing of Buckhorn Creek.  There's no bridge or rocks to cross on here, but if you are nimble you should be able to make it across without getting your feet wet.  Once across, continue uphill for another 1/2 mile to the 4 way intersection with Buck Ridge Rd and Rock Quarry Rd.

This hike was an out and back and as you may have noticed, I didn't take very many pictures along the way.  It's not that it wasn't a nice hike - because it was.  There just wasn't much that I haven't shot already on the other trails.  That is, until we got back to where that waterfall was on Cannon Creek.  Getting to the waterfall wasn't as bad as it looked from the trail, but the falls is surrounded by rhododendron which made shooting kind of tricky.  The waterfall is only about 10' high, but has some character of you don't mind a few briers and some belly crawling.  Below is some video I took, then a few still shots.


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