Monday, May 14, 2007

Stamping Ground Ridge

Click on the photos above to enlarge. Most people who know anything about Unaka Mountain in Unicoi County, TN know it for an overlook known as the "Beauty Spot." And certainly the Beauty Spot deserves it's name and your visit. But there are other lookouts to be found on Unaka Mountain. What's neat about the view from Stamping Ground Ridge is that it looks out to the east, while most of the others face west. However, there's not much information out there about this destination. There are two steep trails which climb up to Stamping Ground Ridge from Highway 107 down below (outside of Unicoi, TN). One begins at the old Limestone Cove Campground (excellent description of this hike here). The other begins near Paint Branch on private property (I believe). I'd recommend you drive up on the Unaka Mountain Road and explore Stamping Ground from the top of the mountain. A short and easy walk from a large parking area leads to breathtaking views of Roan Mountain to the east.  A map and more information here.

 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 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). Proceed up the mountain for 6 miles to a well-marked parking area and trail head 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.

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

The photos here were taken at a similar point along Stamping Ground Ridge at different times of the year. The top photo taken in October. The middle photo taken in May. The bottom one was taken in June.

[Update 3/2016: the trail and area around Stamping Ground Ridge has not been well maintained in recent years. It's quite overgrown. Even the parking area is in rough shape.]

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