Friday, May 27, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains NP: Noah "Bud" Ogle Place and Nature Trail (Blog Hike #573)

Trail: Bud Ogle Place and Nature Trail
Hike Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Geographic Location: south of Gatlinburg, TN
Length: 0.75 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: May 2016
Overview: A short, fairly flat, but occasionally rocky lollipop loop featuring a log cabin homestead.

Directions to the trailhead: In downtown Gatlinburg, take The Parkway (US 441) to Cherokee Orchard Road (traffic light #8).  Turn south on Cherokee Orchard Rd.  Follow signs for the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which starts at the edge of Gatlinburg.  Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail 2.7 miles from traffic light #8 to the signed parking area for the Noah “Bud” Ogle Place on the right.  Park in this parking lot.

The hike: For an introduction to my history of hiking in the Smokies, see my hike to Albright Grove, the first hike on this (my third) visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The short hike described here explores the former property of Noah “Bud” Ogle, a subsistence farmer who lived here with his family from 1879 until his death in 1913.  This area is an underused part of the national park.  When I drove the congested Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail on a warm mid-May afternoon, most parking lots were overflowing, but this parking lot was less than half full.
Trailhead at Noah "Bud" Ogle Place
            At the signed trailhead, an interpretive guide dispenser offers pamphlets for $0.50, a small price to pay for the wealth of information contained in the guide.  The gravel trail heads downhill and very quickly arrives at the grassy clearing that contains the Ogle family homestead.  Though this land is too steep and rocky to make good farmland, the Ogles grew corn, hogs, and apple trees here for many years.  The log cabin is actually a pair of cabins built about 5 years apart that share a common chimney, a design called a saddlebag cabin.  Notice the large porch on either side, and imagine what life would have been like here 150 years ago.
Ogle homestead
            The barn you see further up the hill lies at the end of the nature trail loop.  To pass the numbered interpretive posts in increasing order, turn right, head into the woods, and rock hop a small tributary of LeConte Creek.  This portion of the trail follows the Ogle’s old driveway through a thick stand of rhododendron.
            At 0.2 miles, the Twin Creeks Trail exits right at a signed intersection.  The Twin Creeks Trail leads 1.9 miles downhill to the City of Gatlinburg, so this hike angles left to remain on the nature trail loop.  After passing between some old stone walls, you reach the bank of LeConte Creek at 0.3 miles.
Ogle's tub mill 
Flume at tub mill
            The trail curves left and heads slightly upstream to arrive at the Ogle’s tub mill.  Used mainly to mill corn, the tub mill was powered by water diverted from LeConte Creek via a wooden flume.  Part of the flume remains intact today.  Past the mill, the trail curves left to leave the creek.  The treadway becomes very rocky here.  Fortunately the terrain on this hike is fairly flat, so careful stepping will get you around and over the rocks.
Rocky trail
Ogle's barn
            The trail reaches its highest elevation at 0.45 miles before curving left and beginning a gradual descent.  After re-crossing the tributary of LeConte Creek on a footlog, you come out at the Ogle’s barn, a 4-pen single story barn with loft.  Continue past the barn to the homestead to close the loop, and then head back up the short gravel entrance trail to complete the hike.

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