Turkey Pen Gap Loop
Began on the Turkey Pen Trail (Lat: 35.34305 Lon: -82.65933) The original hike was to be 5.7 miles and 2500 feet elevation gain, about a four hour loop. We left the horse trailer parking area climbing up the Turkey Pen Gap Trail, which is a brisk climb, at one point going up 600 feet in less than a quarter mile up to Simpson Gap, then more climbing up to Sharpy Mountain. If you make it this far, the rest of the hike is relatively easy. Next we took Sandy Gap till it met Wagon Road Gap and climbed down to the South Mills River Trail and headed right, intending to cross the river on the suspended foot bridge, but it was washed out and the water at the horse crossing ford was too, deep and swift, due to the recent rains. That killed our hopes of an easy walk along the river back to the parking area, so we had to backtrack our original route, changing our hike from 5.7 mile loop and 2500 feet altitude gain, into an intense 6 mile 5,000 foot marathon. We got back to the parking area just at dusk.
New hiking rule! Have a turn around time. Allow enough time so that you can retrace your route, even if you make it to within half an hour of the hikes normal completion. Jeff and I took 4 hours to reach the river and made it back in just over 2 hours. We really hauled butt. Just another great hiking adventure. Loved it!