Monica and Susanna's Fern Gully LbNA # 49037
|Placed Date||Jul 19 2009|
|Last Found||Jan 15 2012|
The trail to this find is a pleasant, shady hike along a small creek - perfect for kids who might be adverse to more difficult trails.
Your destination is along Smith Creek just outside Unicoi State Park. Beware of potential traffic delay in Helen, an unfortunate obstacle in an otherwise beautiful landscape. Drive to the park and find your way to Smith Creek trailhead, where you can park for free (no entrance gate). Alternatively you can approach the target from the top of Anna Ruby falls, to which Smith Creek Trail continues. These directions are written from the perspective of starting from the Unicoi trailhead.
Proceed down Smith Creek Trail and enjoy the sounds of nature once beyond earshot of the road. Follow the trail to the junction with Smith Creek and then let the water be your guide. Trace the creek upstream on an easy grade knowing that you can’t go wrong if you find it’s source. You’ll know you are close when gravity starts working against you. Look for a meandering switchback that takes you upslope away from the water. A large boulder marks the way about 130 paces beyond the top of this little climb. Here you begin to see sky through the horizon trees and know you are approaching the ridge top - but not so fast! Things are getting a little ferny now.
Eventually the trail curves to the east at the confluence of two trickles near the headwaters of Smith Creek. This is your exit. The southerly reclining maple will point the way. Look to the sunset peninsula and hop to it! Find pulpit of this fern cathedral and start counting seconds, minutes, and hours. Take as long as you want - it’s a beautiful place. Then point yourself on a magnetic heading and march about 40 paces.
Follow the vine that’s close friends with of a descent sized deciduous tree. This is a rather wild friend and wanders a bit in an “S” shape before hugging the trunk of its companion. You’ll find the letterbox at the base of the tree’s friend. About 200 paces beyond the find is an junction with an old trail or narrow road which heads on an uphill grade to the northeast. The real trail curves left here and if you hit this landmark, you’ve over shot the target.