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Fork Mountain Trail Loop – 21.7 mile dayhike


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This is a trip report (mostly consisting of photos with descriptions) from a long day hike that I did this past fall. Thanks for viewing.

This wooded trail starts at Burrels Ford Road and passes north of Fork Mountain. It forms a loop by connecting the Chattooga River Trail to the Fork Mountain Trail. The Fork Mountain Trail takes you to Sloan Bridge. From there, you hike on the Foothills trail back down to Burrels Ford. You could, of course, do the loop in the other direction. There's plenty of climbing involved either way.

I had been wanting to do this hike for some time and was waiting for the weather to turn cooler. I finally got my chance this past Saturday. I drove to the Burrels Ford parking area and was on the trail by 8:49 am. The temperature was 32 degrees and the moon was still visible between the trees in the morning sky.

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I started my day by doing the short out and back hike to King Creek Falls. Along the way, I passed a small cascade on the creek.

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Just a few minutes later, I arrived at the falls. King Creek Falls drops about 60 – 70 feet from the top to the pool at the base. This is one of my favorite local water falls.

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There were a couple of trout swimming in the shallow water of the pool.

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After spending a few minutes alone at the falls, I hiked back out to Burrels Ford. From there, I crossed the gravel road and began hiking north on the Foothills Trail. Along the way I walked through a tunnel of rhododendron.

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The trail also passes between these large boulders and makes for a tight squeeze.

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After hiking for six-tenths of a mile, I reached the junction for the Chattooga River Trail. Later in the day, I would close the loop by hiking back down to this spot from the Foothills Trail.

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This 1.1 mile section is not well blazed. With all the leaves on the ground, it made it hard at times to follow the trail. At one place in particular, I had to stop and spend a couple of minutes looking around before I could find the tread again. The section of trail in the image below was much easier to follow.

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Throughout my hike, I was treated to lots of fall colors.

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After hiking past a nice camping area, I arrived at this 60 foot wooden bridge that crosses the East Fork of the Chattooga.

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When I reached the middle of the bridge, I stopped and took this photo of the East Fork.

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During my hike, I had to make several creek crossings on boulders. Here, I had just crossed Bad Creek.

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It’s hard to capture the scale but the boulder in this image is at least as big as a large truck.

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During portions of my hike, I felt like I was being teased by mountain views barely visible through the trees. The winter views must be very nice, so maybe I’ll have to come back.

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One thing that I love about the forest is it’s tapestry of many different shapes, shades, and colors.

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This gnarly old tree was full of burls. To me, it kind looks like an older gentleman, with a pronounced nose and droopy jowls. I can almost hear the accent of an English butler. Care for a spot of tea, sir?

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More fall colors on the last 3.9 mile section of my hike.

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As I was approaching the end of my hike, the sun began to set behind the mountains.

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Finally back to where I had started my loop. Only six-tenths of a mile back to my car from here.

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I made it back to my car by 6:45 pm. There was a fair amount of climbing involved in this hike and I had to endure some pain in my legs, lower back, neck, and shoulders for the last five or so miles, but it was well worth it. For now, it’s back to the drawing board to plan my next hike.

Edited by Scout
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Thanks Scout, enjoyed the trip. So different than around here.

Thanks Grizzled, I see from your profile that your location is Bozeman, Mt. Though there's a lot of good hiking with pretty views where I'm at, Montana seems like it's a whole other level of majestic beauty and great trails. One of these days, I'm going to make it to Glacier and do some backpacking.

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THX Scout for a good trip report. How was the trail maintenance(down falls, under brush) on the Fork Mt Tr? It was pretty thick last time I hiked on it.

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Thanks Dogwood, It's been since October that I did this hike so I don't remember too much about the trail condition, but I do remember there being a large tree down across the Fork Mountain part of the loop. I did a shorter hike in February in the snow where I made a loop of the Chattooga River, Foothills, and East Fork Trail to the fish hatchery. The East Fork had several places where there were trees down across the trail. One place in particular was bad. Because of the water on one side and the steep slope of the mountain on the other, I couldn't go around or over the downed tree. I had to make my way through the tangle of branches.

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  • 3 years later...

I haven't looked at this older post of mine in a while. I'm sorry that the images are not showing any longer. I'm not able to edit my post, otherwise I could fix the links. My apologies.

Edited by Scout
grammatical error
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