Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rocky Branch and Limestone Cove Trail

Not to be confused with Rocky Fork, the mammoth tract of land in Unicoi County which as been preserved following a development controversy, Rocky Branch is a small stream in the Limestone Cove area of Unicoi County, TN. While the angle of this photo makes this look like a sizable waterfall, it's probably only two or three feet high! The trail starts from just beyond the old Limestone Cove campground and runs 3.9 miles to Stamping Ground Ridge high atop Unaka Mountain. The first mile or so is a fairly easy stroll, from then on, it's very steep! Expect a workout. Eventually you'll intersect with the trail coming down from Stamping Ground Ridge, turn right onto this trail and you'll soon arrive at your destination.  The better, easier way (and really the only sane way) to get to Stamping Ground Ridge is from the top of the mountain via Unaka Mountain Road (click here for directions).

Click here for photos of the views from Stamping Ground Ridge.

Directions to Rocky Branch and the Limestone Cove Trail: (Map here) 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 for approximately 3.5 miles, you'll see the Limestone Cove picnic area on your left, Rocky Branch Road is on the right. Turn right here and follow Rocky Branch Road for approximately 1/3 mile till you reach a gate and a gravel parking area on your left. Park your vehicle and then continue following the forest service road on foot for approx. 1/2 mile, just before the road makes a sharp turn to the left and crosses Rocky Branch, look for a trailhead marker on your right -- this is where your adventure really begins! :)

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