Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Woodall Mountain, MISSISSIPPI (State High Point #32), 3/23/2019

Woodall Mountain, Mississippi (806'), March 23, 2019.

Mileage: Drive up.

Directions:  US-72 to MS 25 to Fairground Road/Old Highway 25 to County Road 176 in Iuka, MS. Turn onto Woodall Mountain Road. The roads are well signed; the final approach is steep.

This is the third highpoint visited on this road trip (see trip reports for Arkansas and Louisiana).  Yesterday, Sandy and I drove through the farmlands of Louisiana and across the Mississippi River into Mississippi.  We stayed at a hotel in Corinth and got up early to visit Woodall Mountain.

Pretty amazing bridge and view of the river!

Lots of signs. This highpoint is easy to find! 

Though there's history in this area (Civil War battle), the actual highpoint is quite understated.  Woodall Mountain no longer has a tower; just remnants of the foundation remain.

The real excitement is getting there; the last short push to the top is on a steep gravelly road.  Going down this road was fun too.

Foundation posts for the tower are in a fenced in area.

We took a few photos, signed the register, got back in the car and headed east toward Alabama (click here for Alabama highpoint visit).

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Driskill Mountain, LOUISIANA (State High Point #31), 3/22/2019

Driskill Mountain, Louisiana (535'), March 22, 2019.

Mileage: 1.85 miles RT

Elevation gain: 121' 

Directions: The trailhead to the summit of Driskill Mountain is located in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.  The easiest way to find directions is to Google "Mt. Zion Presbyterian Church, Bienville, LA." From Ruston, take US 80-W to LA 507 South; the church (and Driskill Cemetery) is on this road.  Parking is at the church.

The trails described here are on private land, please be respectful of this.

Sandy and I drove the six hours from Magazine Mountain, Arkansas' highpoint (see trip report) to Ruston, Louisiana where we stayed the night. We drove past forests of tall pines adjacent to acres of stripped land.  Logging is big here; we'd pass the trucks hoping they'd stay in their lanes (they did) and the loads wouldn't shift while we did so (they didn't).  

Parking is in the church lot in front of the cemetery fence.  We were the only ones there but by the time we left there were several other cars in the lot; apparently this is a favorite spot for local families.

The church and cemetery.

LOTS of Driskills buried in the cemetery!

Sign is on near the road - easy to spot.

Avoid hiking here during hunting season (Nov/Dec).

I'd read that finding this highpoint could be tricky as the route is not well marked so I brought Don Holmes' highpointing book with me for directions.  

I didn't need it.

Each turn and option was met with clear signage. James Driskill's great great granddaughter Melba had installed signs and painted trees with interesting circles and bands to point the way. 

Gate at the beginning, go through it.

A road walk is first, followed by a slight left turn, all signed.  We opted to get there via the false summit, and return the standard route - 1.85 miles of walking.

The area is pretty wet - my shoes are orange from the mud.

"Designated trail."

False summit route is more of a path; the direct route is old road.

Lots of blazing!

The highpoint is marked with a sign and register (pictured below), along with a large cairn and three chunks of wood with pins in them.  


We couldn't find a USGS marker but did find a county marker further down the path (the path continues left of the sign).

County marker.

When facing the Driskill Mountain sign, look left and you will see benches for the overlook of Jordan Mountain - a nice place to rest and reflect. 

Back to the car.

We arrived back at the car before noon, pointed the car east and headed to Mississippi (trip report is here).

Monday, March 25, 2019

Magazine Mountain, ARKANSAS (State High Point #30), 3/21/2019

Magazine Mountain - Signal Hill, Arkansas (2,753'), March 21, 2019.

MileageDrive up and .6 mile hike to summit.

Directions to highpoint: (from The highpoint is within Mt. Magazine State Park, Paris, AR.  From Little Rock, take I-40W to Russellville, then Route 7 south to Rt 27 south to Rte 10 west to Route 309 north.  The area is well signed.

My friend Sandy and I were in the area and decided to do a highpointing road trip (which included highpoints in Arkansas and three other states).  Magazine Mountain in Arkansas was first on our route. Signal Hill refers to the area on Magazine Mountain where the highpoint is located.  

We rented a car and drove up from Little Rock (about a two hour's drive).  The mountain is a massive plateau seen for miles - we were at least 45 minutes away when we spotted it. We arrived hungry and had a wonderful lunch at the lodge. The restaurant offers stunning views of the Ozark Mountains.   

Entrance to the park
View across from the entrance sign.

The lodge has hotel rooms and a restaurant.

Patio at the lodge - views of the Ozarks.

We didn't spend a lot of time researching our highpoints for this trip and I was a bit surprised that the actual summit is viewless.  

From the lodge, the hike to the summit is .6 miles.

Moderate path up.

Once reaching the top and waiting in line for a photo (busy place), we headed back down to enjoy the views at the lodge.

USGS marker in the center of the summit area.

We'd planned to spend more time hiking around the mountain but simply ran out of time.  On to Louisiana! (Click here for LA trip report.)

For more information on hiking in Mt. Magazine State Park, click here.  And here.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Last Annual 27 Mile Hike, Withlacoochee State Forest, FL, 1/26/29

Last* Annual 27 Mile Hike - Citrus Tract, Withlacoochee State Forest, Inverness, FL, January 26, 2019

Route: Trail 13 - Yellow Trail - BA Cross trail - Florida Trail - CD Cross trail- return to Yellow Trail - Trail 13

Mileage:  27 (lollipop loop)

Elevation gain: Just over 1,000' (respectable by Florida standards)

Trailhead:  Hike begins and ends at Tillis Hill Campground, Trail 13, Inverness. Your car GPS may try to send you down very rough roads so check a map beforehand.   It’s best to reach the campground from Stage Coach Road.  If coming from Pleasant Grove Road it's about four miles down Stage Coach Road to Trail 13; just two miles if coming from South Lecanto Highway.  There’s a sign for Tillis Recreation Area at the turn off. The campground is 1.5 miles in - well maintained dirt road.  (Trail map is below.)

Hiked with Carol and the Sun Coast Chapter of the Florida Trail Association today.  Twenty-seven miles is a long day hike and event organizer Sun Coast provides support by dropping caches of water along the way and providing a van at mile 18 as a bailout option. 

We set up camp at Tillis Hill Campground the night before, not at all pleased that temps dipped into the mid 30s overnight. Since electricity is available at the sites, out came the heaters and electric blankets.

It was a dark and chilly 6:30 a.m when we headed down the hill, taking a right onto Trail 13. (We’d have to head up this mean little hill at the end of the hike!) The wooded entrance to the yellow-blazed trail is just over a half mile down Trail 13, on the right (don't go left - there is another trail across the road). 

Still dark as we headed to the trail.

We found the trail opening - not so easy in the dark!

Sun is just coming up.

The yellow trail runs about a half mile before intersecting with a blue-blazed connector trail. (We'll return via this half-mile portion of yellow trail when heading back to Trail 13 and the campground at the end of the day - making the "stick" portion of the lollipop-shaped route.) We continued on the yellow trail, hiking the loop clockwise. At the end of the day we returned to this intersection via that blue-blazed trail, completing the loop portion of the route - see map.  

We crossed Forest Road (FR) 18 before the intersection.

Our route crosses forest roads and horse trails dozens of times.  It's a great way to orient your location on a map and some of the roads have real character.  The area was rich in phosphate and mining operations needed roads - now handy for four wheelers and dune buggies (and our "sag" wagon). I'll post a few photos of road crossings for perspective (see the map for all the roads).

The path is long and straight for the most part with a few slight "ups" and easy downs.  The hike takes you across vast pine flatwoods and through mysterious oak hammocks.  Still, after 27 miles you've seen enough blazes, palms, oaks and pines to last a while!

Resurrection Fern on an old oak tree.

There are several cross trails in this tract allowing for shorter route options. We didn't take the BC cross trail but instead stayed on the yellow trail entering the B loop portion of our hike.  

We passed two primitive campsites on the way, PCZ-C (also known as Youngblood campsite) and PCZ-B (also known as Jackson campsite). The names were changed by the Park Service to better reflect the trail loop location.

Carol smiled through the entire 27!
Primitive camps are off trail.

About 12 miles into the hike we stopped for lunch. Temps had warmed up to a comfy 60° and we hung around a horse trough soaking up the sunshine. Our "SAG" wagon greeted us and the crew took our trash and anything else we might want to shed in the name of a lighter pack.

Time to eat, grab water/G2, and de-layer.

The route crosses Trail 13 five times!

With more than 14 miles left to go no one felt roughed up...yet.  The break and food energized us. 

A particularly open area.

The group arrived at the B-A cross trail, the first of two connector trails we used today.  It was a group event and everyone waited for the sweep (designated "last person") at all road crossings and intersections.

Loops B-A cross trail (near Fivemile Pond).

Awkward oaks. Reminds me of a Dr. Seuss book!

Too chilly for wildlife but lots of oaks, palmettos and pines!

Most of the group were feeling it by mile 15 - minor things really, like sore feet, hips.  

Good stretch.

The B-A cross trail ended, putting us on the Florida National Scenic Trail! (SNSC).  The trail's distinctive orange blazes meant we were heading quickly toward that final cross trail and the end of the loop.  

Cloudy skies made 2 pm seem like a winter 5 pm as we slogged toward mile 18 and the SAG wagon (and our bailout option). There's no shame in calling it quits after a hearty 18 miles.  To continue means "wheels up" no turning back. The group was quieter than the last time they saw the support crew but not a single hiker opted to take the ride back to the campground. Onward!

We entered a lush, ferny-palmy, oak forest.  There are a few small hills and caves here - the woods were silent, sounds muffled. Several of us explored what is known as the Jeep Cave area.

Interesting little cave (not the only cave to explore here).

As we left Jeep Cave we entered a burned area.  This area was actually burning during last year's 27 miler!  I remember gingerly stepping through smoke, embers glowing to my right and left.

Barren area, still stinks of burnt trees.

This unappealing section continued for what seemed like forever, and eventually we found ourselves back among life but just briefly, before heading into more charred barren landscape.  Prescribed burns are common in the Withlacoochee Forest.  It's assuring to know that green will be springing up in no time!

Dead zone.

Newly painted blaze - hope the tree stays up!

Spirits were lifted as we passed the trail to Mutual Mine campground. We knew we were close with about 4 miles to go!

We won't be headed to Mutual Mine today.

It was time to leave the orange blazes of the FSNT and head down that last blue-blazed cross trail.

Sign at the start of the CD cross trail  (blue trail).

At 26 miles we were greeted by our support crew with a cooler filled with drinks! We celebrated there, then happily dragged ourselves back to Trail 13 and up to the campground.

Like all challenges, we felt victorious having completed our "hiking marathon." 

The route. The circled numbers are water caches and SAG wagon stops.

* "Last?" there's always next year....