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Guest River Gorge trail notes

Guest River

I went on a brain-cleansing hike Wednesday at the Guest River Gorge. As the name suggests, the river runs between steep cliffs, paralleling the trail and providing a soothing soundtrack for the entire day.

Rails to trails

The trail itself is one of those rails-to-trails deals, meaning that it's more of a road than a trail. If you go on a pretty weekend, the place is packed. But at 8 am on a Wednesday morning, I saw no one until I'd walked all the way to the end and was 50% of the way back. Perfect!

Trail terminus

The only really hard part of the trail is the length --- 5.8 miles one way...then you have to walk uphill for the entire return journey. I'm intrigued by the option to instead take a left just before the end and follow the Heart of Appalachia trail over to Sugar Hill. But I've never been able to find the connection on the Sugar Hill side, so I'm a bit leery. (The connection on this end was well-marked and obvious.)

Purple-flowering raspberry

Despite the high-trafficked nature of the upper two to three miles, the Guest River Gorge Trail is a good spot for botanizing since it's located at a high elevation. I was very taken with these purple-flowering raspberries, in full brilliant bloom. (Although my reading suggests it's not worth going back in search of the berries --- as with the Pacific Northwest's salmonberry, the prettier the flower, the more insipid the fruit.)

Insect-damaged umbrella tree

Views like this one put any slightly insect-damaged plants in my own garden into perspective.

Rock cliff

But my favorite spot was a particular part of the cliff that captured the sound of the river and turned it into an ocean-like symphony. I hesitate to tell you exactly where it is --- if I do, you have to promise not to leave your trash in my favorite location and not to show up at 8 am on a Wednesday morning to steal my hideaway.

Rock ledge

Promise? Good. Just at the two-mile marker, you'll see a ledge easily accessible via a short scramble up a scree slope. Clamber on up, then lie back and relax. 99% of passing hikers won't even know you're there and the roar of the river will lull you into true relaxation. Enjoy!

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