Gail and Cookie
Gail and Cookie at Jennings Creek.
Appalachian Trail from Jennings Creek (Va. 614) to Cove Mountain Shelter and back (with short Glenwood Horse Trail side trek). 7 miles.
We'd hoped to visit the Apple Orchard Falls area before things melted away from the falls completely, but FR 59 still had lots of ice on it, and so we parked where the AT crosses 614 and started up Cove Mountain, headed south.
On most of this section of the trail, the snow had all melted away, with more snow down along Jennings Creek, where we began, than on up the mountain. Although on our brief, quarter-mile section of the Glenwood Horse Trail (click here for pdf of trail map), we walked in some. This is a section of AT we've done several times, including passing through the horse-block at the intersection of the two trails. But on this day, we both blithely walked along from that point on what seemed to be a nice section of trail, eschewing a look at blazes for long enough that once we realized we were following orange ones instead of white ones, The Day Hiker had to opine as we turned around that she "hated these detours."
Just shy of the shelter, we crossed a Natural Bridge ATC member who is the maintainer of this section, and he was pleased to report that the trail was fully open for the rest of our way – what, 400 yards? – to the shelter. He seemed happy to have someone out on his section on this winter day, even if we weren't club members in Roanoke.
At the shelter we enjoyed a fireless and relatively warm lunch, with The Day Hiker avoiding Reynaud's symptoms for the second week in a row.
We took the short way back down the mountain, avoiding the horse-trail detour, highly experienced trail-followers that we are.
Getting to it: From I-81, take Arcadia exit (168) onto Va. 614; about six miles east to AT crossing and parking lot, on the left just after crossing a bridge over Jennings Creek. Length of AT section: 3.2 miles one-way. Climb is about 800 feet onto the crest of Cove Mountain, followed by an undulating ridge walk to the shelter.
January 16, 2010