This short trail is worth the hike if for no other reason than the chance you might run into the ghost . . .
The Ghost House Loop Trail is in Big Ridge State Park in Tennessee.
Located in the Appalachian ridge and valley terrain of Northeastern Tennessee, Big Ridge State Park’s more than 3,500 acres is comprised of three narrow ridges and stream valley systems. Big Ridge and Pinnacle Ridge make up the two most prominent systems as they are almost completely surrounded by Norris Lake’s southern shore. Historically, Big Ridge State Park is one of five demonstration parks developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) along with the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Much of the park’s architecture features the unique CCC-style local-stone architecture. Many of the park’s trails were carved out by the CCC, as well, and one can see the remains of the homes and farms that once occupied the area while hiking. More particularly, many old family cemeteries can be seen throughout the park.
Directions: From Interstate 75, take Exit 122, Tennessee 61 east for about 12 miles. The park entrance is on the left between the cities of Andersonville and Maynardville.
Hours Open: The park is open from daylight until10 p.m. in the summer, and from daylight until dark in the winter, Eastern Time. The Visitors Center is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Ghost House Loop Trail
Distance Round-Trip: 1.2miles
This trail is said to be haunted by the ghost of Maston Hutchison because odd things have occurred along it. Whether or not this is true, you will see the remains of old home foundations as well as the sunken grave of Hutchison.
Caution: This trail passes through some damp and buggy areas. Insect repellant is advised for those who want to ward off bugs.
Trail Directions: Parking for this trail is located off the group camp road. The trailhead is to the left at N 36º 14’ 49”, W 83º 55’ 29” (1). The lake is to your left as you begin this hike, crossing a wood bridge and entering the woods at .01 mile. At .04 mile, reach the junction with the Lake Trail, which continues straight ahead. Turn right to reach the beginning of the Ghost House Loop in .01 mile.
Turn left on the Ghost House loop, and at .09 and .17 mile, cross wooden bridges over intermittent streams. At .43 and .49 miles, you will cross bridges over streams. At .61 mile, a side trail to the left leads a short distance into the woods where a home site was once located. There are two moss-covered rock mounds that are the remains of foundations.
At .68 mile, reach the junction of the Big Valley Trail connector. The Big Valley Trail is 15 yards to the left. The Ghost House Loop continues to the right at N 36º 15’ 13”, W 83º 55’ 28” (2). Continue to the right and reach the Norton Cemetery to your right at .78 mile. It is here you will find the grave of Maston Hutchison. While there are no remains of the Hutchison home any more, it is his house that is said to be haunted.
Continue hiking, reaching the beginning of the Ghost House Loop at 1.19 miles or N 36º 14’ 49”, W 83º 55’ 32” (3). You will reach the trailhead at 1.24 mile, and the parking area in another .12 mile.
- Big Valley Trail connector
- Ghost House Loop beginning/end
We’re out in Arizona visiting our daughter, and Saturday morning was spent making the short (just over a mile and a half) but very strenuous hike up to the Wave Cave in the Superstition Mountains. Temperatures near 90º and a bright sunny day made this hike a little more tricky. It was worth the effort, though. The views from the cave were outstanding, and it was fun watching everyone “riding” the wave of the rock formation.
As my June 1 deadline looms nearer, I have spent the past few weeks immersed in the much needed revisions of our Best of the Appalachian Trail books. First written in 1994, they were updated in 2004. Let’s just say a lot has changed in the past 13 years! Interstates have been built and trails relocated for one thing. In addition, thanks to the much appreciated help of Vic Hasler with the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club, I’ve taken his advice and trashed one overnight hike and replaced it with another.
Honestly, I think the new hike is a much better addition. The only reason I can think we didn’t include it to begin with is because when we hiked that section of the Appalachian Trail, we were being chased by rain before being forced to shelter in the former barn–Overmountain Shelter–during an early April blizzard.
Simultaneously, while working on these revisions, I have also been transcribing my trail journals as 2018 will mark the 30th Anniversary of our through hike. Because life tends to work that way, the point I am at in transcribing is also the time we were caught in the snowstorm. Having quit my job as a staff writer for a daily newspaper to hike the A.T., I had fun (as we had hours to waste) describing the adventure in newspaper format. I can’t quite duplicate that here, but it went something like this (The Humps, by the way, are two balds on the Tennessee/North Carolina line that are more than a mile high in elevation.):
THE NOT-YET-OVER-THE-HUMPS NEWS
Yellow Creek Gap, N.C.
A Victoria Steele-Logue-Jones, Esq. Paper
April 7, 1988
Snowstorm traps 15: Boy Scouts, Through-hikers forced to shelter in barn.
Fifteen hikers were trapped at Yellow Creek Gap today when hit by the worst blizzard to strike the area in years. (She wrote the lead with less than 25 words, proving once again her innate sense of journalism.) The storm began early Wednesday with a sprinkle of rain and a wind that would make the willows weep. On the Hump mountains, Troop 357 struggled against the ripping gusts of air. It took several hours for the 13, including three leaders and ten youths, to make it to the Overmountain Shelter.
Through-hikers Frank and Victoria Logue arrived at the shelter slightly soaked just as the first downpour started shortly after 10:30 am. A little more than an hour later, the others began to arrive. Fortunately for the rain-soaked travelers, the barn had more than enough room to offer sanctuary to the entire group.
I won’t continue but suffice to say: because the barn had about an inch of space between its slats, it didn’t take long for snow to coat everyone’s sleeping bags. Also, the wind literally rocked the barn back and forth. It was a hellacious 48 hours. When we finally departed we had to trudge through more than two feet of snow, which, by the time we reached the valley at US 19E, had made the transition from snow to rain as the temperatures grew warmer.
But, having since seen and hiked that area in good weather, it’s truly beautiful and rich in both geologic history and the history of the people of the mountains. In the summer, the Cawtaba rhododendrons in the area are breathtaking.
I’ve added a new hike at my website. You can find more details here: Angel Falls Rapid Trail.
Angel Falls Rapid Trail, which is 3.6 miles roundtrip, is located in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, which straddles the Tennessee-Kentucky border.
From the early Native Americans who hunted the area to the more recent inhabitants who mined the land for its coal, the Big South Fork area of the Cumberland Plateau has seen a lot of history over the past 12,000 years. The Cherokees that lived in the area were pushed out by the arrival of fur trappers in the late 1700s. By 1810, the first pioneer settlers arrived to build farms and mine saltpeter. Following the Civil War, the land was mined for coal and stripped of timber before its oil and gas resources were developed.
The 125,000-acre park features waterfalls and numerous rock formations as well as its famous river. The constantly moving water that eroded the sandstone and shale that make up the top layer of the plateau caused the park’s distinct features. The limestone beneath layer beneath contains the parks oil and gas deposits. The park also features a wide variety of wildlife arranging from Black Bear and Elk to 60 species of fish and 160 species of native and migratory birds.
Directions: There are numerous ways to access the park depending on which section you wish to visit. You can reach the Bandy Creek Visitor Center (from which you can get more information) by taking US 27 north from Interstate 40, Exit 347, to Oneida. In Oneida, turn left (west) on Tennessee 297 and travel about 15 miles. The Visitors Center and Bandy Creek area is to your right after you cross the Big South Fork River. There are also Visitors Centers for the park in Rugby and Crossville (which is on Central Time).
I’ve added a new hike to my website.
The Five Mile Trail is part of a trail system in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park in Tennessee that includes a number of loop trails within the system. There is also a 3-mile loop as well as 10-mile and 20-mile loops that course along the ridges overlooking Kentucky Lake.
The park is near commercial marinas and public boat docks and there are three boat access points available in the park at no cost. Among the fish to be caught in the lake are smallmouth, largemouth and striped bass, sauger, crappie, bream and catfish.
For a trail description, directions and more see: Five Mile Trail at my website.