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A hike in Big Ivy July 16, 2010

Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, Southern Appalachians.
Tags: , , , , ,

Gosh, I'm proud of this photo! (Click twice for full zoom)

Yesterday I decided to venture into Big Ivy. I really just had to find out what this place was all about. After all, I own a Forest Service map titled “South Toe River, Mount Mitchell, and Big Ivy Trails.” And yet I couldn’t have explained to anyone what on earth that name meant. Plus, I’d been deeply troubled by the “Forks of Ivy” exit off Interstate 26.

It’s all about the Ivy River, which runs into the French Broad near Marshall, North Carolina. Big Ivy takes in a swath of the Ivy’s tributaries, and is also known as the Coleman Boundary. This segment of Pisgah National Forest lies northwest of the Craggy Mountains and west of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Walker Knob and Balsam Gap. The best thing about Big Ivy is that it’s about a 30-minute drive from my place in North Asheville. You approach it from the west and drive deep into the valley of Dillingham Creek, south of Barnardsville, with changing patterns of mountains closing in around the road as you glide around the curves.

This outing was a short exercise hike of 3.6 miles roundtrip, 1050′ vertical, up the Walker Creek trail only as far as Forest Service Road 74. When I have more time, I will continue across the road to the Perkins trail and maybe even think about making the short off-trail connection to Walker Knob on the Parkway.

The hike started with an unusual bridge. I liked the way it didn’t lie flat.

Bridge on Walker Creek trail

I soon passed my first wildlife of the day, a toad, and climbed among a thriving jungle of nettles. That clump of white under the leaves has such a poisonous look.

Why do nettles hate us so much?

Soon after taking the above picture, I saw my second wildlife of the day—a large blacksnake. It did kind of startle me—I might have even made a funny little sound. He was lying right in the middle of the trail, and I was trying to decide which was worse, stepping over the snake or wading through the nettles, when he slithered off into the brush. It took him a long time to get the whole length of his three-or-four-foot body off the trail.

What you see is only the front third or so of his body

I continued climbing and passed a pretty area where the berries of the umbrella-leaves mixed with some red bee balm.

Umbrella-leaf plants

Up at the FS road junction, I found a big patch of wildflowers and took my picture of my other wildlife of the day that you see at the top of the post. The patch of bee balm was next to a mixture of fleabane and a tall variety of Black-eyed Susans.

Flowers thriving in a patch of sunlight

The forest is nearly all hardwoods in this area, without even much rhodo and laurel. On the way back down I noticed two vines intertwining next to an orange blaze on a tree. Soon I was back at the car, planning to return before long for further explorations.

Struggle of the vines---or is it cooperation of the vines?


1. kaslkaos - July 17, 2010

That is one huge snake! I like them, I really do, but there would be that ‘startle’ factor. Not to mention, the possibility of rattlesnakes in some areas.
The butterfly is fabulous. They are so hard to capture as they rarely sit still. It’s gorgeous, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a one.

Jenny - July 18, 2010

I took about 10 pictures of the butterfly, and that was the one that came out. I wish I had a better picture of the snake, but the other one I took was even blurrier—I let myself be hurried too much.

2. Thomas Stazyk - July 18, 2010

As usual fantastic pictures! When I saw the picture of the snake my immediate thought was “wow, I wouldn’t have made a “funny little sound.'” Funny, perhaps, but definitely not little. And I wouldn’t have had the presence of mind to remember I had a camera.

3. Seth - July 20, 2010

I used to date a gal in Weaverville who would never let me stay the night at her place…or I guess it was really her mothers place. I either went up that gravel FS road that goes up to the Craggies from Barnardsville or up the Big Ivy FS access road to car camp when I went over to visit her from TN, and I always wondered what the backcountry was like around Big Ivy. Looked nice from what little I saw. Seemed to me like the kind of place the Buncombe County heavy drinkers association would hang out on a friday night. Although I didn’t see much backcountry during that period of time, I did learn something during all my trips over there last year: I’d hate to try a long-distance relationship, cause apparently I cant even handle a medium-distance one. HA!

Jenny - July 20, 2010

Don’t think I’d leave my car at the Walker Creek trailhead over a Friday night—though the community there just over the forest boundary line looks more like the “heavy weed smokers” group than the “heavy drinkers” group. You may be giving up too easily on those relationships. A girlfriend’s intrusive mother could make any short-distance relationship go flat, let alone a medium or long-distance one. It’s not the distance, it’s whether there’s a Protective Mom lurking in the background.

4. Heidi - December 30, 2014

I find this post so lovely! Im glad you had a great experience! Have you heard about the proposal to begin logging specifically in the Big Ivy area? If not I encourage you to please please go to friendsofbigivy.org

There you can learn more about it and even voice your opinion via email to the park service! Please let our voice and love be strong for this beautiful area that deserves to be reserved!

Jenny - December 30, 2014

I will check that out. This is an area that truly deserves to be protected. Thanks for your comment.

Jenny - January 4, 2015

I was glad to send a comment that urged protection for Big Ivy as well as certain other areas in Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. I hope others do the same.

5. taranawesley - January 4, 2015

please read below and take a moment, before the 5th, to send an email and protect our local forests. this is one of the most locally sustaining actions you can take.

HEY ALL…… ( especially North Carolina folks…. but everybody else also !! ) Some very near and dear woodlands/national forest near to our homes and hearts here in NC is up for logging. These forests hold our wildness, our sanity, and our bloodlines. If you have a moment, write a letter before Jan 5th and ask the Forest Service to designate BIG IVY as a wilderness protection area. As Mr. Muir said, …. “going to the mountains is going home, that wildness is necessary, and that mountain parks are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life…” Submit comments to ncplanrevision@fs.fed.us Include your name, phone number, and mailing address. Please specify that you do not want the Big Ivy portion of the Pisgah National Forest to be logged, and that instead you want it to be a wilderness area. Thank you for your time friends !!!!
Chloe Smith

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