A weekend backpacking trip into Tray Mountain Wilderness. At 4,430 feet, Tray Mountain dominates the southern portion of this rugged Wilderness, which straddles the crest of the Blue Ridge. From up high, fast-flowing streams tumble down narrow gorges and over many waterfalls. Second-growth hardwoods at least 60 years old are the primary forest cover. Deer, squirrels, grouse, and wild turkeys make common appearances, along with the ever-elusive black bear, raccoons, doves, quail, and woodcocks. About 41 miles of trout streams produce rainbows and browns. You’ll see remnants of past logging operations, mostly abandoned roads.
Bryan Delay and myself found a loop trail on Sherpaguides and decided to backpack this loop. Finding any information on anyone else who had hiked this loop before become almost impossible. The sherpaguides map had no topography or real direction as to where this loop was. There are two places you can park and try to do this loop. One is on Tray Mountain Rd (79) and park your car literally on the side of the road. There are no signs, no parking area. The trailhead is right before the turn West on 79 (see map) The trail goes straight up. There you find an intersection. One goes to Chimney Mountain, and one drops down into the gorge. This trail has not been kept up and is mostly is disarray. Bring a compass, and a topo map. The other side of the Trail Head is on an old abandoned road. The road ends and there are 3 choices of trails. One to the Left, and one to the Right, and one we’re not sure of where it goes. On the map below, you can see where the cars are parked (Circles) the trail we hiked (Yellow) where we camped (triangles) and the trail we couldn’t find (red) If you have any questions, e-mail me and I’ll help direct you where we parked.
The Appalachian Trail (AT) follows the crest of the Blue Ridge for 16.5 unusually level miles from Unicoi Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap, with a shelter at Tray Mountain. The High Shoals Trail leads about 1.5 miles to the High Shoals Scenic Area, where a waterfall drops over dramatic cliffs. Hunters and anglers come often to this area, but the AT attracts the most visitors.