Friday, June 10, 2011

Moutains-to-Sea trail

I'm one of the few people from Georgia that had never visited Asheville, NC until I was assigned a business project there... Beginning in February, I've gone to Asheville once a month for business. I typically run near the hotel because of time constraints (long work hours), but I've been eager to check out trails. I did a little research and found that the Mountains-to-Sea trail was only a few miles from the hotel that I stayed at this time. I worked long hours Monday - Thursday so I decided to splurge and get a trail run in this morning after catching up on email and before driving back home. After google searching and talking to a local professor, I drove to the nearby Folk Art Center and parked my car. But I didn't see the trail anywhere! A woman wearing hiking gear pulled into the parking lot shortly after me. I asked her where the trail was and thankfully, she pointed me in the right direction. The trail marker for the south direction was barely visible from the parking lot.

So I ventured forward, but photographed backward. Two days ago someone told me about the trail; he lives near it and runs it often. He said that if you start at the Folk Art Center and head south, you'll go over a bridge and through a pasture, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, etc. I started at the Folk Art Center and followed the trail marking until it led to a road with no markings but a faint worn path along the road/bridge. So I followed the path over the bridge and then saw markings for the trail to continue. The next thing I know, I'm dead-ending into a pasture. I look around and there seems to be no other path than through the pasture under the bridge, so I climb through the gate and follow the foot-path while avoiding big piles of animal (cow?) poop.

I exit the pasture and am not sure where to go. I see bikers and walkers coming from two different directions but don't see any trail markers. Obviously I'm confused, looking in multiple directions and moving slowly. I run towards the tunnel, then return back towards the pasture gazing in a zillion directions. Then a woman walking her dog asks if I'm looking for the trail and she tells me to go through the tunnel and then turn right immediately afterwards. The trail marker is the white dot on the right side of the tunnel, duh, I just didn't see it.

After the tunnel is a gravel stairway, which was very cool. I had wondered why the hiker in the parking lot had on long pants with the temperature in the mid-70s. But I quickly found out why and wished I had worn long pants too. With few exceptions, the trail is a narrow single track with LOTS of POISIN IVY. I tried to dart each tri-leaf plant as best I could and prayed I wouldn't have a reaction later. I think I did more hiking than running, but thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenary.

Due to time constraints, I turned around at about 2.05 miles and returned to the Folk Art Center. I was grateful for the clean restroom and wished I had brought money to buy something from their gift shop. Will definitely have to make a return trip! Loved this trail!

1 comment:

  1. I'm always nervous about getting lost with trail running. I guess that's one reason I remain, primarily, a road runner. The trails always look so nice and inviting though.