Nantahala National Forest: Chunky Gal Trail - Tusquitee Gap to Tuni Creek, Hayesville, North Carolina
The Chunky Gal Trail is a 21-mile long hiking trail that connects the Nantahala Mountains with the Tusquitee Mountains. Despite its unfortunate name, it has many great vistas and is a good trail. This is the first time I visited it, but I was pretty happy with it - and I will return. The trail visits key peaks of the area such as Tusquitee Bald and Boetler Peak, as well as Muskrat Creek Shelter on the Appalachian Trail, which is where it ends. This hike occurred on February 14th, 2015. Originally, my plan was to hike the Chunky Gal Trail westward from Tusquitee Gap all the way to Tusquitee Bald, but it turned out to be a much longer hike than information had suggested, so I decided to turn around at some cascades on Tuni Creek.
Nantahala National Forest: Bristol Trail and Fires Creek Rim Trail (Carvers Gap to Fires Creek Picnic Area), Hayesville, North Carolina
The Tusquitee Mountains of Southwest North Carolina are a beautiful mountain sub-range located near Hayesville. The highest mountain, Tusquitee Bald, tops out higher than 5000 feet. In a deep valley shaded by the mountains' crests flows Fires Creek. This clear, mountain stream houses a population of trout, rarely found in some of the mountains. The Fires Creek Rim Trail is the main trail that goes around the Tusquitee Mountains. However, there are also access trails, and the Chunky Gal Trail, which comes from the southeast. This hike occurred on October 4th, 2014. My original plan was to hike to Tusquitee Bald, but some roads were closed (possibly for hunting season), so I had to change my plan to starting at the Bristol Horse Camp, and doing the Bristol Trail to Fires Creek Rim Trail. Then, I would take the Fires Creek Rim Trail to the right (south-southwest) and follow it to Fires Creek Picnic Area. I wanted to return by the Cover Trail, but after quickly realizing that it has 18 fords, certainly not inviting in 40-degree weather, I bailed out and decided to return by the Fires Creek Road.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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