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Trip Report: Woody Ridge Hike, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

February 1, 2011
Where:
This trail is located about 4 miles south of Burnsville, NC just off of Highway 80.  The trailhead and parking are at the end of  route 1156, marked Shuford Creek Rd, despite what the online map services may call it.  The road just ends with a nice wide area and parking for about 8 cars.  The small Forest Service trail marker for Woody Ridge is visible straight ahead.

When:
We day hiked on January 29, 2011.  It was a beautiful Spring-like day…a nice break in a fairly cold and snowy winter.  It was warm when we parked the car (about 55F), and by the time we turned around, we were hiking in 3 feet of old snow!

Who:
My 10 year old son and I. I would not recommend this trail for kids any younger than about 10, unless they are just “gung ho” about getting up to the highest ridgeline in the eastern US.  It is a tough climb.

Positives:
– rapid altitude gain with some beautiful views during colder months (when the leaves are down)
– solitude – we saw no one, and were making first tracks after about 1 mile
– dramatic terrain – very steep and open and windy up top
– starting a fire on a huge boulder to warm up…the winds on that exposed ridge stoke your fire for you
– hot russian tea using our alcohol stove (I started with about 1 cup of our bottled water and filled the rest of the pot with snow)
Negatives:
– rapid altitude gain – uphill 95% of the time
– “post holing” through the snow soaked our feet quickly (lightweight hikers)
– I suspect this trail is very rocky and washed-out when not covered with snow…it has so few switchbacks
– during warmer months, leaves on the deciduous trees would block all views for nearly the first 2 miles
– my son could have used gloves because he kept putting his hands down in the snow as we post holed up the steepest sections
– there were really no camp sites on the trail…a few flat spots would work in a pinch though
Comments from my Son:
– “I can’t wait to tell the guys about hiking in all this snow up here”
– “This snow just takes all my energy”
– “Glissading is awesome”
– “My toes hurt”
Plan it, and go visit Woody Ridge Trail before the leaves come out on the trees.  Be careful…the weather on the ridgeline could be extreme.  Check out a posting on what we wore and carried here.
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