Potts Mountain trail
Left: Jeeps and peeps atop Potts Mountain. Right: Blurry skunk near the bottom of Potts Mountain.
We hadn't visited this little-used trail for several years, and in high summer, its beginning and end sections were fairly well weeded over. And judging by twigs and branches across the wooded section of the trail, as well as rain-pushed leaf piles looking undisturbed, not too many people had been on it in the interim.
The Day Hiker is no fan of 'shwacking or anything akin to it, and barked a little at the start over the weeds and their inevitable offerings of "ticks, chiggers, spiders, all kinds of stuff." The dog, on the other hand, offered no complaint.
The majority of the trail is in open woods with not much understory – due at least in part to a fire that I don't remember, but Gail vaguely does. Sure 'nuff, says WDBJ website, it was back in mid-April: "about 35 firefighters are battling the 700-acre fire on Potts Mountain – The 'Barbours Creek' fire."
At the end point of the trail – yes, the last 200 yards or so seemed to be lost amid weeds, and yes, The Day Hiker barked even louder here than she had at the start – you run into the Potts Mountain Jeep Trail. And sure enough, pretty soon after we walked along it a little ways looking for a lunch spot, a couple of Jeeps came by. And then, a little later, a whole string of Jeeps from a Jeep club came on up pretty close to where we were eating. This was on the little loop just off the main Jeep Road that was so full of big rocks that even a lot of Jeeps couldn't get through, and so they got out their towline and commenced to pulling the Jeeps over the hard part one at a time while we ate lunch at approximately spectator distance.
Once we finished lunch, had walked on past the line of Jeeps still waiting to be towed and were about to re-enter the weeds to again find the Lipes Branch Trail, The Day Hiker said she was thinking about going back and asking for a Jeep ride down the mountain.
Not too long after I got to be sure she was kidding--near the bottom of the trail – I inadvertently walked up pretty close to the only other co-user of the trail we saw this day . . . a sort or meandering, tired-looking skunk.
Which seemed to please The Day Hiker enough that she followed it around with the camera for a few minutes and then didn't gripe too much about the lower weed section the second time through.
The Lipes Branch Trail up to and onto Potts Mountain Jeep Road and back. 5 miles
How to get there: Va. 311 into New Castle; then several 600-number roads to the Lipes Branch Campground.