Ascent of Blue Ridge Pastures on 2015-08-29

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, August 29, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Blue Ridge Pastures
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:3780 ft / 1152 m

Ascent Trip Report

The trailhead and summit are both on the Eastern Continental Divide, but you have to dip deep toward the Mississippi to get to the Blue Ridge Pastures from Bearwallow Gap. The trail was built by the Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) and named for the Trombatore family who donated the route. To bypass private land along the ridge, the trail winds 2.5 miles. It starts with a 500-foot drop that makes the return daunting. However, the trail is well-built with steps and switchbacks, so it's not bad.

Blue Ridge Pastures is one of eight hikes on the BRC's White Squirrel Challenge 3.0. Here's the link: Bearwallow Mountain across the road is also part of the WS3, so do them both on the same visit. Total for both hikes is 7 miles and 1,800 feet of climbing.

Here are the hiking directions from the BRC website:
After climbing the log steps and passing the trailhead kiosk on the left, continue along the trail and descend moderately into the Upper Brush Creek drainage. The trail switchbacks four times as it descends. Shortly beyond the fourth switchback at 0.4 mi., pass a unique tree on the left as the trail curves into the center of the drainage. The seemingly-artistic curve of the tree's trunk resembles a pig's tail. Only 100 yards beyond, the trail passes another interesting tree--this time looking below and to the right--that represents the largest tree on the entire property. Its many burls suggest that it was left by loggers from previous timbering of the tract and now stands more than 100 feet tall and likely surpasses 150 years in age. At 1.1 mi., the single-track trail junctions with a grassy woods road. Turn right and follow the road uphill to two more junctions at 1.3 mi. and 1.4 mi. Go left at both, following the temporary signage in place. Arrive at two more junctions--at 1.5 mi. and 1.7 mi. Continue straight at both by taking the uphill route at each intersection.Another junction is reached at 1.9 mi. in a small gap. Here, follow temporary signs and turn left onto a single-track foot trail. This trail segment is brief, and the route rejoins the woods road about 150 yards later at 2.0 mi. At 2.1 mi., junction for the final time with a woods road. Turn left and cross over a small rivulet draining a spring. Immediately beyond lies a rockpile marking the ruins of a former cabin site on the right. Beyond the stone foundation remains, a single track trail climbs moderately up the mountain and reaches the edge of a meadow at 2.4 mi. Cross over a barbed wire fence using a wooden stile, veer left and follow pink ribbons marling the route toward the summit. Arrive at the top of Blue Ridge Pastures at 2.5 mi. and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Hickory Nut Gorge, including Bearwallow Mountain, Florence Nature Preserve, and Wildcat Rock. On a clear day, Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains are visible to the north.

My experience: The website mileage matched very closely with my GPS. Be careful, though, if you use a phone app for mileage. There is good cell coverage along the route, but my app said it was 3.5 miles rather than 2.5. Another couple I met along the way had the same issue. There are a lot of old logging roads and ATV tracks along the way, and most of the intersections are signed, but the wrong mileage could get you confused if not lost. When in doubt, follow the most well-worn path. Summer hikers will be wise to wear long pants because of thistles as you approach the pasture near the top.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1340 ft / 407 m
    Extra Gain:600 ft / 182 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:Trombatore Trail
    Trailhead:Bearwallow Gap  3640 ft / 1109 m
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail

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