Difficulty: 1-3 (out of 10) Depending on section of the trail.
Gear: A regular 32 oz. Nalgene water bottle should suffice. High-top hiking boots are recommended due to rocky terrain and steep inclines. I advise taking a day pack with some snacks, such as trail mix, a candy bar and a few survival items such as a lighter, a head-lamp and a jacket depending on the weather forecast.
Location: A short drive East, past a few farms and down an unlined road puts you at a small parking lot on Hodgkins Road at the House Mountain trail.
House Mountain isn’t associated with the Great Smoky Mountains but offers great learning opportunities and is easily hiked in a couple hours.
Relatively soon on the trail, you’ll be presented with a choice. And although it’s a little longer, the mountain trail offers more overall. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose the other, heck, you could do both in the same day if you’re in good shape and wanting to experience all of House Mountain. I just prefer the mountain trail.
You’ll see a few man-made bridges built to deter erosion brought on by the large influx of hikers in the spring and summer months. And although this can take away from the scenery, anyone who knows how annoying erosion is, welcomes the addition.
The trail wraps around a few ravines, large boulders that can be climbed and over a spring. It then begins to climb. You’ll see a few areas where people who dislike switchbacks decided to run up the mountain side. This causes erosion, future confusion for other hikers and is dangerous. Be cool, don’t do that.
Throughout the hike, gage the time. If you got a late start, be smart and figure out if you’ll be hiking back in the dark or rain. Stay hydrated and energized.
After the switchbacks, you’ll be given yet another choice.
West Peak or East Peak. I personally always go to the East Peak, but I recommend going to both to see which you prefer. My hunch is the east peak.
There are several areas at the east peak, pick any that make you feel accomplished. Because that’s all hiking is on the surface, accomplishment.
After basking in your awesomeness and taking plenty of pictures for your Instagram, be sure to relish in the beauty of it all. Getting to the top is a rush, but taking it slow, enjoying yourself and becoming one with the nature that is momentarily surrounding you is a step toward making hiking a lifestyle.
I hope you get out and appreciate this hidden gem. My next post will be on how to decide what food to bring on different types of hikes using factors such as calorie count, how to prepare it, if needed, and how to pack it.
Edited by Maggie Jones