Monday, May 14, 2007

Horseback Ridge

After visiting Stamping Ground Ridge, I recommend that you drive up the mountain another half mile for another stunning view from Unaka Mountain. Horseback Ridge lies between Stamping Ground Ridge and the Unaka Mountain Overlook. The trail gently descends a rock outcropping for a quarter mile or so, with panoramic views at each step along the way. Just when you think the trail has ended, you'll find a small break in the rhododendron that will lead you to another level with expansive views. Above is the scene (facing northwest) of Stone Mountain (in the foreground), Little Mountain, Buffalo Mountain and Johnson City (far in the distance). [click photo above to enlarge]

Directions: From I-26 take the Unicoi exit (#32). At the end of exit ramp turn east towards town. At the stop sign, turn right onto Route 173/Unicoi Road (which is also known locally as the Erwin Highway) and proceed for 0.7 miles. Follow the signs pointing to the Cherokee National Forest by turning left onto Rt. 107 (Limestone Cove Road). Drive 7.8 miles, turn right on Red Fork Road (it's also referred to as Unaka Mountain Road). Reset your trip odometer and proceed up the mountain for 6.4 miles. You will pass by the parking area for Red Fork Falls, then the road will turn to gravel. At around six miles up, you'll pass by the parking area for Stamping Ground Ridge on your right and then it's just a short distance to a very small pull-off area (as you emerge from the forest and round a curve) and unmarked trail head for Horseback Ridge to your right. Note: While this particular section of the Unaka Mountain Road isn't nearly as rough as others, I'd still strongly recommend that you take a high clearance vehicle (truck or SUV) for this trip. Here's a good map of the area (note that the I-26 exits have since been re-numbered!)

Click here for a post listing all there is to see and do on Unaka Mountain.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I think you have the name right. Years ago, early 80's, there was a barely passable trail between Horseback Ridge and Rattlesnake Ridge across the headwaters of Dick Creek. It passed by some really huge Spruce trees. Last time I tried to walk it, possibly late 80's, it was grown up in blackberries and I couldn't get through.

    The trail started about a 1/2 mile down Horseback Ridge to the left and traversed some large burned to bedrock areas before arriving at the speeps. Then it headed up toward the loop tail around Pleasant Garden overlook. Not a long trail but very rough.


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