Iron Furnace Trail 3.17.07

The JC Hikers hiked the Iron Furnace Trail in the Cherokee National Forest (#109). This is a moderate 6 mile hike round trip. The trailhead starts in the Clarks Creek area off of Highway 107 at the ruins of the old Clarksville Iron Furnace. It follows the old wagon road over into Bumpas Cove where the iron for the furnace was mined.

Iron Furnace Trail Clarksville Iron Furnace

Clarksville Iron Furnace Clarksville Iron Furnace

Ironically less than a week before I was scheduled to lead this hike a wildfire burned the forest here. I offered the option to my fellow hikers of going somewhere else, but the consensus was to go in spite of the fire damage. It turned out that the ash and snags were the least of our concerns.

Trail / Wet Weather Creek Iron Furnace Trail

Starting Thursday night we had a steady downfall of rain, so by the time we starting hiking Saturday morning the fire was very much out (with a few smouldering spots). However the ground was thoroughly saturated and with all the undergrowth burned away there was nothing to stop the water. For a considerable part of the day we were either hiking in water or mud.

Rich Mountain Hot Spot

Devastation Ashcicle

The day started very chilly with some snow flurries that reminded me of falling ash. Several trees had strange yellow icicles created by the rainwater running over charred wood and then freezing.

Evidence of Mining Bumpass Cove

The far end of the trail drops down into Bumpas Cove. (Originally called "Bumpass" Cove as on the historical marker. Supposedly it was so-called because the road was so steep you would bump your ass on the way down.) We saw some evidence of the old surface mines here.

Though the original furnace was shut down in 1844, Bumpass Cove had a long history of iron, lead, zinc, and manganese mining. Operations did not cease in the cove until the 1950s. A waste management company operated a landfill here in the '70s. Local citizens raised concerns and suspicions about unauthorized waste deposits and the landfill was closed in December of 1979. The old landfill site was covered with a clay cap and can be seen from the trail.


Steele Creek Park

Went for a walk with the JC Hikers in Steele Creek park in Bristol on 3/10. Steele Creek is the third largest municipal park in the state of Tennessee and contains over 2000 acres of forested land. It was a very warm day for early March with a considerable amount of climbing. We followed the Lake trail to the Fox Glen Trail then the Power line trail and Sinks trails around to the nature center on the north side of the park.

Broadleaf Toothwort

After the checking out the nature center we crossed a branch of the lake and picked up the Hemlocks trail and the North ridge trail. Then we took the Old Logging trail (though we were looking for the Tulip Tree Trail) through Jackson Camp to the South Ridge trail, and then along the South Ridge trail to its end just before a knob above the parking area back on the south side of the park.

The Descent

At this point it looked like it would be too steep to bushwhack down the other side of the knob as we had planned. We didn't want to have to go all the way back though, so we descended down the side of the ridge to the ravine below. Except for a few briar scratches we escaped mostly unscathed.

The Descent The Descent

Walking on down out of the ravine, we soon joined back up with the trail on the west side of the lake and had a gentle walk the remaining distance back to the cars.

The Descent

This was my first visit to this park and I believe I shall return to see what is blooming in the next few months. We saw toothwort getting ready to bloom and several spring beauties already in bloom.

My only complaint is there seems to be evidence of a considerable amount of motor bike traffic on the trails and one actually passed us on the South Ridge trail. This motorized traffic is causing a great deal of erosion on the trails.

However, this is a very nice park with an active nature program with several park naturalists. For more info on the park and Nature Center activities Click Here.

To Howard, Faye, Joy, Joel, Conrad, Bill, and Lisa it was a pleasure hiking with you and I hope to see you soon.

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This blog is a work in progress. An ardent perambulator and nature enthusiast; I take pictures of what I see and post them here occasionally.