Fisherman on Jacob Fork
Shinny Trail
Wild Dasies
Wild Trees?

I made several attempts to hike the Possum Trail. My first attempt, on June 22, I had to abort because my camera battery depleted and I forgot to pack my spares. The second attempt the next day was after a storm had passed through the night before and the Shinny River was too high and fast to cross as shown in the video posted below. To reach Possum Trail one has to hike the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail for a half mile to the Headquarters Trail. Hiking the HQ Trail another .7 miles will bring you to the trailhead of Shinny Trail. It is another .4 miles to Possum Trail from the trailhead of Shinny Trail. Possum Trail is 1.4 miles long and intercepts Horseridge Tail at the northern end. I took Horseridge Trail for .8 miles to Sawtooth Trail. I followed Sawtooth Trail for 1.1 miles to the Chestnut Knob intersection and from there headed south for 1.8 miles on Chestnut Knob trail to the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail and the parking lot. Total hike was 6.9 miles.

Note: Click on the pictures for a larger view or here to scroll through the photo gallery consisting of 85 photos. The Photo Album will pop up in a separate window and there is a link at the bottom of the page to get back here but I suggest just closing that window. The link is provided for those who turned off allowing websites to open a separate window.
  • My Camera Gear

    My camera gear consist of a Pentax K-50 with Pentax 18-55mm, 50-200mm and a Sigma DG 70-300mm lenses. When taking close-up photos I use an AmazonBasic 60-inch Lightweight tripod and to avoid shaking the camera I use a JJC RM-E7 remote control to trigger the shutter. I shoot videos with a Canon Vixia HF R42 camcorder. I have an Altura camera backpack that I usually take on hikes but on this hike I packed a day backpack with extra water and lunch. On my first attempt I forget to pack the spare batteries and memory cards. I took eleven pictures along the Hemlock Nature Trail before my battery was depleted and I abandoned that attempt.

  • Headquarters Trail Trailhead

    After the half mile trek along the first leg of the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail you come to the junction for the start of Headquarters Trail. Taking a right will lead you on the HQ Trail for .7 miles to the junction for Shinny Trail, which is across the path from the campsite. The trailhead for Shinny Trail is on the right side of the path. The sign below right is on the left side at the entrance to the campsite.

  • Short Video

    When I reached the Shinny Creek where the trail crosses I realized I would have to turn back. I wasn’t worried about getting my feet wet. I was worried about slipping and falling into the creek with all my camera gear. When I got home I packed my backpack with some Ziplock bags to put my gear in to protect them. I returned several days later and was able to cross. Here is a short clip comparing the fast moving creek to a gentle one.

  • Shinny Trail Bridge

    After you cross the creek and make your way up the trail you will come to another creek crossing. This time you have a bridge to cross. The bridge is a tree trunk with a flat area sawn on the top and hand rails nailed to the sides. It looked to be old and rotten but in fact it was very solid.

  • Possum Trail

    After you cross the creek and make your way up the trail you will come to the signs shown below. Shinny Trail continues straight ahead but you cannot see it in the photo. At this point you have hiked .4 miles from Headquarters Trail. Damage from last year’s November fires can be seen along the trail as shown below. Possum Trail was closed after the fire and only just recently opened up for hiking.

  • Steep Climbs

    Possum Trail is categorized as strenuous due to the steep climbs in several areas. The rest of the trail is classed as moderate. The steeper climbs are assisted with steps made of rocks piled in a stair-like fashion shown on the left. I guess that more than half of the trail is like the two photos below.

  • Level Paths

    Several times the trail runs along the top of peaks and is fairly level offering a leisurely stroll and beautiful views of the distant mountains. Since this trail was closed and only recently opened (March I think) some of the path is covered with grass in the sunny areas.

  • Mountain Views

    I believe these mountains are, from left to right, Rich Mountain, Bumgartner Mountain, Hickory Nut Mountain and Rainbow Mountain. All above 2600 feet elevation.

  • Horseridge Trail

    After 1.4 miles I reached Horseridge Trail to make my way to Sawtooth Trail. The yellow Daisy wildflowers are abundant along the fire damaged path. The other plant that is making a comeback is the thorny plant below right. Horseridge Trail is an equestrian trail that follows along a ridge at the northern end of the park at around 2200 feet.

  • Sawtooth Trail

    I reached Sawtooth Trail after .8 miles of hiking. From here I would head towards Chestnut Knob Trail. Along the way I saw this tree, below left, that the fire completely burned away the lower part of the bark. From the break I could tell that the tree fell over due to high winds during the recent storms as the wood was still moist and light color at the break.

  • Chestnut Knob Trail

    After 1.1 miles I reached Chestnut Knob Trail which is a strenuous class trail. As I was at the top of the trail I would be descending which is easier than climbing this trail. See the Sawtooth Campsite article on my site for more information on this trail.

  • Jacob Fork River Gorge Overlook

    Heading down the mountain, or knob as it is called, I reach the trail to the Jacob Fork River Gorge Overlook. I set up my tripod at the overlook and took the photo below right with my Sigma DG 70-300mm lens. I should have used the lens hood for this shot as the sun was very bright and washed out the colors in the photo giving it that hazy look. This is the High Shoals Falls somewhere near the top of the falls.

  • Back to the Falls Loop Trail

    According to the printed map you get at the Park Office this collection of trails I hiked would make a 7.7 mile loop. I used the North Carolina State Parks topographical map (see below) and sign posts information to add up the distance and I only come up with 6.9 miles. I met a few friendly people along my hike and during my lunch break at the gorge overlook chatted with a fella who was also taking pictures. Two young girls and their father made the ascension to the overlook via the Chestnut Knob Trail and were given due recognition of their achievement. All in all it was a pleasant outing and I would recommend this loop to any hiking enthusiast.

  • South Mountain Park Map

    This is a topographical map of the South Mountain Park around the area that I hiked. See if you can find the missing .8 miles using the map and the photos of the signs.