EIGHT YEARS GONE
A couple of weeks ago, Bob suggested getting together for a hike.† It was early November, so I suggested something at a low elevation, so we could catch the last of the fall colors.† We settled on the Uwharries, but we still needed a specific destination.† I did a bit of research, and remembered that Iíd enjoyed a hike at Morrow Mountain State Park a couple years earlier.† At the time, I had planned to return in a few months to explore some of the trails Iíd missed on that initial visit. †Somehow, a few months turned into a few years.† How many years?† I checked my notes, and was shocked to discover that my previous hike had occurred in 1999.† Eight years!† How can eight years go by that quickly?
To put this in perspective, Iíve taken multiple hiking trips to Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Washington in the years since I last visited Morrow Mountain.† And Morrow Mountain is only a 1-hour drive away.
So, I decided to correct this little oversight.† Bob, Laura, Myron, Dorcas, Ann, Colleen, and two dogs, Saucony and Sunshine, elected to join me.† We met at the parkís visitor center on Sunday morning, and planned out our route.† Our hike would take us to the summit of Morrow Mountain, which at an elevation of 900í+, is part of the Uwharrie Beyond 600í list.†
We began our hike on a nature trail behind the parkís museum.† This path connected with the Morrow Mountain Trail, and after a bit of confusion and nearly a wrong turn, we were on our way.
The hike started out easy, as we rolled along through varied terrain.† It was a chilly morning, but as usual, most of us overdressed.† The first half of the hike looked like some sort of weird burlesque show (featuring far more fleece than silk), as people shed random articles of clothing all along the trail.† Even I had to join the fray once we hit the surprisingly steep final climb to the summit.† By the time we reached the top, most of us were down to shorts and t-shirts.
The summit of Morrow Mountain features a picnic shelter, a bathroom, a parking lot, and almost everything else youíd expect at a state park.† We arrived shortly before noon, so at least we were able to avoid the worst of the crowds.† We had a pleasant early lunch in the sun on the viewing platform behind the picnic shelter.† From here, there is a nice view of Lake Tillery and the Uwharrie Mountains.
After lunch, we circled the peak on the summit loop trail.† This path provided some additional views that were worth seeing.† Aside from the lake and the ancient Uwharrie Mountains, we were treated to some pleasant fall colors.
We headed back down by the same route initially, but diverged from that path in search of variety.† We followed a series of horse trails down towards Lake Tillery.† For the most part, these trails were fine for hiking.† The only annoyance was a group of horseback riders that passed by on several occasions.† For some reason, they were doing most of their riding off-trail.† I canít imagine the park approves of riding off-trail, as it can certainly cause serious erosion.
We avoided the horses by hiking out the Rocks Trail to a viewpoint just above Lake Tillery.† Fortunately, the Rocks Trail is designated for hikers only.† At the end of the path, we found a minor cliff where a handful of boulders provide a fine view of the lake near the confluence with the Uwharrie River.† After a bit of maneuvering, almost everyone was able to find a seat with a view.
While relaxing there, Dorcas offered everyone Giardia Chocolate.† I politely declined.† The last thing I needed was Giardia Chocolate.† Then Dorcas clarified her statement.† She had meant to say Ghiradelli Chocolate, which is a very different thing!† Congratulations to Dorcas for making the trip report.
We packed up and backtracked to the horse trail.† From there, a short hike led to the campground, which is quite attractive.† We followed a path through the campground, before cutting over to the visitorís center.† Here we found about a dozen deer grazing.† Apparently large numbers of deer move into the state park during hunting season.
I enjoyed our hike, and it was nice to get together with other hikers for a change.† The weather ended up being ideal, and the wildlife and fall foliage added a lot to the hike.† Iíll definitely hike at Morrow Mountain again sometime.† Hopefully it wonít take me 8 more years though!
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