Monday, October 10, 2016

Lumber River State Park: Griffin's Bluff Trail (Blog Hike #609)

Trail: Griffin’s Bluff Trail
Hike Location: Lumber River State Park
Geographic Location: south of Lumberton, NC
Length: 0.7 miles
Difficulty: 1/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: September 2016
Overview: A short loop along the Lumber River and atop Griffin’s Bluff.

Directions to the trailhead: These driving directions start at the community of Orrum, NC, which is located on SR 130 6.7 miles east of Fairmont or 2.4 miles west of US 74.  Take Creek Road south out of Orrum for 3.6 miles to Princess Ann Road.  Turn left on Princess Ann Road.  Drive Princess Ann Rd. 2.1 miles to the state park entrance on the left.  Turn left to enter the park, pass the park office, and park in the blacktop picnic area parking lot on the left immediately past the park office.

The hike: Established only in 1989, Lumber River State Park consists of 14 access points and recreation areas along its namesake river.  The river, park, and nearby City of Lumberton all get their names from extensive swamp logging operations that took place here in the late 1700’s.  The park is a major destination for paddlers, as 115 miles of the Lumber River have been designated as a natural and scenic river.
            For hikers, two of the river access points have official trail systems: the Chalk Banks Access northwest of Lumberton and the Princess Ann Access south of Lumberton.  This hike features the Princess Ann Access, which also contains the park’s main office and a 9-site primitive campground.  Though short, the 0.7 mile Griffin’s Bluff Trail described here passes scenic river views and tops a steep bluff overlooking the river.
Start of Griffin's Bluff Trail
            From the rear of the parking lot, pick up the asphalt trail that goes through a gap in a wooden fence.  Where the trail splits, stay right to walk to the right of the picnic area’s restroom building.  Past the restroom building, head downhill and look for the signed trailhead for the Griffin’s Bluff Trail, which leaves the picnic area and enters the forest.
            The trail surface turns to gravel with wooden side rails as the trail heads north with the bluff rising to your left and the Lumber River downhill to your right.  At 0.25 miles, you reach the wooden Lumber River overlook platform, which extends out into the river.  This overlook is located at a sharp bend in the river, so the black, still water extends both straight ahead and to the right.  The area to the left is an odd area called Griffin’s Whirl, a whirlpool that forms where the river reaches the base of Griffin’s Bluff.  Provided the mosquitoes are not too bad, this overlook makes a scenic spot to stop and observe the river.
Lumber River
            Past the overlook, the trail continues north and soon crosses a dirt canoe launch access road.  The trail now assumes more of an undeveloped nature trail feel as it curves left away from the river.  At 0.4 miles, you reach another scenic spot with some benches that overlook a blackwater tributary of the Lumber River.
Tributary of Lumber River
            The trail next curves left again to begin its brief moderate ascent up Griffin’s Bluff, gaining 30 feet of elevation in the process.  Moss and roots form the trail surface here.  After re-crossing the canoe launch road, you top the bluff and reach the overflow group camping area.  Angle left and then right at a brown metal sign that says “trail” to continue the Griffin’s Bluff Trail.  A short hike through brushy blufftop forest returns you to the parking lot to complete the hike.

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