- 3.9 miles
- 1033′ Elevation Gain
- Difficulty: Moderate
Phil and I have been driving by the Coon Tree Picnic area on Hwy 276 for over 40 years! It is only this year (2013) that we have become interested in hiking around this area. The Coon Tree Picnic area has a nice safe parking lot next to bathrooms with flushing toilets. It is a convenient place to park and begin our short hike up to Coon Tree Gap where it intersects with Bennett Gap Trail.
3.7 miles, 1000′ Elevation Gain
The trail splits a few hundred yards in from the road. We took the right fork and hiked the loop counter-clockwise. There are several little creeks that eventually all come together to form Coon Tree Creek. It was difficult to know just which tributary was considered the main creek. As we hiked up, the smaller creeks joined together and then joined again with another small creek several hundred yards downstream. We hiked up the trail and then turned left onto Bennett Gap Trail for maybe a half mile before we turned down the second section of the Coon Tree Trail Loop back to the fork near the road where we started.
The loop trail circled a “bowl” where many springs and seeps come up out of every little fold of the land. Phil said that there were more springs and creeks in this small area than he had ever seen. I concur. However, the trail or the forest floor wasn’t boggy like a lot of other trails near this area.
The trail wasn’t too steep as we hiked up to the Bennett Gap Trail junction. There were a few log stepped sections that raised our heart rate…nature’s step master!
It was an exceptionally pretty hike. Although there were a lot of standing dead hemlock, the forest floor was clean and dotted with dogwood and hardwoods including beech and poplar. There were no ridge line or vista views, but the spring wildflowers were in full swing. Purple violets were everywhere! The bluets were peeking out of every little crease and crevice. There were yellow Indian Strawberries, Wild Geranium, Trillium in blood red and white. Purple Crested Dwarf Iris had just begun to bloom. They are so pretty and delicate.
Since Phil had taken the day off, it was nice to hike a trail that was basically deserted on a weekday. We passed only one lady hiking alone. She stopped and talked and was excited over seeing the trillium in bloom. It is so short lived and really a treat to catch it blooming. Most hikers are friendly and excited about their surroundings. We don’t meet any nasty people in the woods.
I am so thankful that I could do this hike on a beautiful spring day when all of the wildflowers are at their peak. It feels so good to be on the trail and have my best friend and hiking buddy, Phil, with me.