Blood Mountain Trail
Starting at the Gap parking lot, we start the trail to the loop on the Byron Herbert Reese Trail. This section provides a good warm up to start the main loop. This section starts a little flat as a tease across a creek, then up a long section of rock sections for over half the trail. Little did we know this was a precursor of much more rocks and steep grades to come.
There are two options to reach the Blood Mountain summit. Take the Appalachian Trail (AT) section on the right or the Freeman Trail on the left. Some will debate which section is best to reach the summit. We liked the AT section to reach the summit views. From parking lot to the top took us a little less than two and a half hours. The trail is very steep and rocky, but well-marked and easy to follow. Other than the flora, the fall leaves and rock formations, there were no opportunities to see that mountain ranges until you reach the summit. Still, a fun and challenging hike to the top.
As we reached the summit, we come to two views of the mountains. The first is often referred to as the “false summit”. False it may be, but the views were amazing. Going a few more minutes up the trail we reached the next section with more views of the mountain range. On this day we had the bluest of blue sky with gentle winds, the start of fall leave color, and a light haze in the distance for a little contrast. The views were amazing!
We continued to the summit and reached the top at 4,440 feet. Continuing a little further along the AT we found the Blood Mountain Shelter, a rock building for the AT hikers and more large boulders to navigate for our last view of the mountain range. Starting our decent, we continued our loop looking for the Freeman Trail.
To close the loop we started our return on the Freeman Trail. Something to note are the various trails and spurs along the back section of the trail. There are signs along the way, but recommend using a GPX viewer on your smart phone or a Garman hiking GPS. It’s easy to take the wrong trail and having a trail maps makes it much easier to follow the path. This was especially true for our hike along the Freeman Trail.
This trail was poorly marked, very narrow, extremely rocky and not for the hiker who has little experience along more difficult trails. Fall leaves hide the trail in a number of locations and there were very few trail markers along the path. Most of the sections of the trail are uneven rocks on the few level sections with climbs up and down between large boulders. This is not to discourage someone from this trail, I enjoyed the challenge, but it was very physical and care had to be taken to stay on trail and take extra care not to turn an ankle.
A Great Hike
Overall Joel and I had a great time along the trail. The father son bonding is special. Working together through the difficult challenges along the trails gave us a great sense of accomplishment. And the gift of nature to see the wonderful, unspoiled creation is hard to put in words and should be experience. Enjoy the video below. This is a favorite.
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