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.

1 comment:

Mushy said...

Wonderful photography as usual Luke!

I still wish I had met you back when I was a younger man and travel some of the trails with you.

See you on the trail!

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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.