Friday, February 9, 2018

James River Face Wilderness Explorations

I headed out into the James River Face Wilderness this week with a group to explore some old trails and bushwhack in the wilderness - stuff I don't like to do when out solo for fear that no one would ever find me again.

We started out hiking the Piney Ridge Trail, which is the original AT alignment back in the 1930's.  The Piney Ridge Trail today is one of the lesser used JRF access points, and I was surprised to find 5 vehicles already in the lot when I arrived.  Clearly the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club, which does some incredible trail work in this part of the state, was out exploring today.

My colleagues arrived a few minutes after I did, and we all headed up the Piney Ridge Trail.  The trail starts by continuing up an old woods road past a closed gate.  A sign for the trail is shortly after this point. Older guidebooks indicate that the trail was originally an old road, but I did not see any indication of this.

The Piney Ridge Trail offers an excellent workout, climbing nearly 1600 feet over its 3.5 mile length.  Along the way are nice winter views and a small lookout, just off trail to the right, at the 2.6 mile mark.  I had never seen this overlook before, having hiked right past it on previous hikes on this trail.

Piney Ridge Trail looking west towards the Appalachian Trail.

View from small overlook just off of the Piney Ridge Trail, at the 2.6 mile mark.
The Piney Ridge Trail ends at a place that the NBATC calls "Five Points" because it is a flat area where 5 trail sections converge.  Both the A.T. and the Sulphur Springs Trail intersect, and the Piney Ridge Trail ends.  There is also a small campsite here, and I had visited this same spot four days earlier when leading a PATC-Charlottesville Chapter hike up the Sulphur Springs Trail from the west.

An overgrown old trail seems to continue past the campsite, and we explored that today.  Although overgrown with thigh high bushes, the trail itself is very obvious.  It is clear that, over the years, many sets of boots used this trail.  And as you can see from the circled portion of the photo below, there used to be a trail sign along the way.  The photo shows the trail with a rotting sign post in a spot not near any currently active trail.  There used to be a trail intersection here, with another trail heading east on a ridge. (We did not follow this trail.) 


I thought this could be an old AT alignment, as it connects 5 Points to the old Marble Spring Shelter site that is on the current AT.  But none of the historic USGS maps show the AT using this route, dating back to 1935.  So I now believe that this was a side trail off of the AT and that the post was for a sign directing hikers to the Marble Springs shelter from this side trail.  The trail is not described in any of the old guidebooks I have accessed, dating back to 1950.

This old trail continues behind the signpost above, and then comes out at a campsite on the A.T. near where the Marble Spring Shelter used to stand.  Our group stopped to look at a hollow tree and ponder the actual location of the shelter, but didn't stay long because the wind was whipping through this area.  For some reason, the Marble Spring site is consistently colder than the 5 Points campsite a half mile away.  We headed south on the AT intent on climbing Highcock Knob, but found the trail too icy to continue.  We turned around and returned to the shelter site.

Back at the shelter site, we then took another former trail off of the A.T.  I had seen this trail a couple of years before when passing through here as leader of a group hike, and always wanted to check it out.  
It was described in the 1974 edition of the "Guide to The Appalachian Trail in Central and Southwestern Virginia" as follows: About 30 ft. to the right of the lean-to [east], an unblazed trail to the Blue Ridge Parkway starts in a southeasterly direction, skirting down the right hand slope of the ravine.  With one left and one right switchback, this trail leads 0.8 m. to the Parkway between mile posts 68 and 69.  My next edition of the guidebook is about 15 years later, and there is no mention of this trail.  In addition, the trail is not found on the most current USGS map, though it can be seen on older editions.
Unblazed trail connecting Marble Springs site to BRP.
Amazingly, this trail was in fantastic shape, and I would highly recommend it!  I hadn't expect much even though I'd been part way down it two years ago.  I had driven the BRP several times since learning about the trail and saw nothing from the road, so I figured it had gotten washed away at some point.  But I was looking in the wrong spot.  The trail doesn't come down as close to the rocky streambed as I had thought, and can be seen intersecting with the BRP in the photo below - on the left side of the photo.  The trail took us down along the stream and out of the JRF wilderness boundary, onto the National Park lands of the BRP.


We walked northbound on the BRP, passing the grassy area on the right where cars could park to explore this trail.  But I wouldn't leave a car here overnight without contacting the BRP rangers first.


We crossed another streambed on the BRP, and then went off the road on what looked like an old roadbed.


Unfortunately, it disappeared almost immediately, and we resorted to bushwhacking up the hillside, looking for an old woods road that our hike leader believed was somewhere upslope.  It was a tough climb, but we found the road back within the wilderness and used it to head back in the general direction of our cars.  We stayed within the wilderness boundary for about 1.3 miles on this old roadbed, which is not found on any USGS topo that I could access.
Bushwhacking towards an old woods road.
 Using the old roadbed wasn't always easy, because there was a lot of growth on the road.  But there was a kind of trail that weaved through the growth, making me think that others (probably hunters) have used it.
Pines growing in the old roadbed.
 There were times when the roadbed provided fantastic views to the east.

You can see the Blue Ridge Parkway in this photo.


Heading in the direction we did, the direction to take was always obvious when other old roads forked off.  Heading in the other direction, one would need to head upslope every time.

The last 2.9 miles were outside of the wilderness, but apparently still in the Jefferson National Forest.  We were almost back to our cars when we had the biggest hurdle of the day - crossing a very healthy Peters Creek.  
 Because we were so close to our cars, some folks just waded through the creek.  I joined those who took shoes and socks off to cross.  Either way, the crossing was really cold!

Map of our route: Map.
Total Distance: 10.3 miles 
Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes (including stops totalling 18 minutes)

Low Point: 960 ft.
Highest Point: 2584 ft.
Elevation Difference: 1520 ft.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shenandoah Mountain Trail, Northern Portion

Many of my recent hikes have centered on Shenandoah Mountain, a ridge mountain west of the Shenandoah Valley that extends for over 70 miles and forms part of the Virginia/West Virginia state boundary.

Early last year, I climbed the highest point on Shenandoah Mountain, Reddish Knob, and recounted that trip in Hiking Upward.  Link.  More recently, I hiked to the top of High Knob, just south of where U.S. 33 crosses the state boundary west of Harrisonburg. This is also on Hiking Upward.  Link.  The hike described here follows Shenandoah Mountain between these two points.
The southern end of the SMT, where it meets the road from
Reddish Knob to Flagpole Knob.
I returned to the area  later in the year to join the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club's Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter for a shuttle hike on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail from a road access south of Bother Knob to U.S. 33. We also used this hike to cut back on vegetation and to assess the equipment needed to relocate larger blowdowns across the trail.  This hike would be really hard to do on my own, as the trail is long and amazingly tough, and the alternative is a very long car shuttle. The SSVC had arranged a member to pick the hikers up at the north end of the hike, saving much time.

This hike is further complicated as, once you reach the ridge of Shenandoah Mountain on the road to the southern trailhead, you turn right at an intersection where, if you turn left, you summit Reddish Knob.  After this intersection, the quality of the road drops dramatically as it climbs towards Flagpole Knob.  It was a long slog to the trailhead, using a four wheel drive pickup truck.  I'm not doing it in my Outback.

And once we got out of the truck at the trailhead, we spied a large RV that was so new that it still had a paper temporary plate, camping next to the trailhead.  The owner came over and talked to us, and told us how he was going to need to repair parts of the RV's undercarriage after bringing it up to the trailhead.  He had brought it up there as a dry run for a June event being held for ham radio operators. So, maybe I could do it in my Outback, but not without pain to the vehicle!
Bother Knob summit.
To head north on this part of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, you begin by heading south. Like a fishhook, the trail curves west, then north to summit Bother Knob about 1 mile into the hike, the high point of the journey, at 4344 feet elevation, only about 50 feet lower than Reddish Knob.  Nearby trees keep Bother Knob from having the spectacular views of its southern neighbor, but the summit itself is not wooded and very open.
North of Bother Knob the trail steeply drops and climbs and drops again while riding the ridge of Shenandoah Mountain. The overall average elevation is dropping ass you head north, so I recommend hiking the trail in this direction.  After summiting Bother Knob, the trail's elevation drops from 4344 down to under 3500 feet before experiencing several short and exceptionally steep ascents.

At the five mile mark, the trail reaches an old woods road, which it uses to traverse the ridge for almost exactly a mile.  At the six mile mark, the trail drops off the ridge to the west (left), as the road continues onto private property.  Off the road, the trail continues the theme of steep ups and downs until it reaches the High Knob Trail at 7.3 miles.  The High Knob Trail drops steeply down to the USFS Brandywine Campground, or it heads up to the ridge and a stone fire tower that is worth seeing! 



While it adds another mile to the hike, High Knob has a wonderful fire tower at its summit and it is an awesome structure with a fantastic view. High Knob is most often reached coming from the north - the portion of the trail at the end of this trip.   The Shenandoah Mountain Trail continues straight one mile to a large parking lot on U.S. 33, just below the summit on the West Virginia side. This small portion of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail is by far the most popular hike in this part of the national forest and likely to be the only time you will see other hikers on this route. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Advice for New Virginia Hikers

Over the New Year's weekend I celebrated a milestone.  I first began really hiking in Virginia on December 31, 1992, which is twenty-five years ago.

I still remember my first hike: it was on the Appalachian Trail over Tar Jacket Ridge, culminating at the top of Cole/Cold Mountain.  I remember taking in the view from Tar Jacket Ridge and being absolutely mesmerized!  I grew up near Chicago, after all, and those kinds of views just aren't possible where I came from.

I owned a copy of PATC Map 13 and could not wait to get back down there, so I could hike the relatively new Old Hotel Trail, and come back again and hike the Pompey Mountain-Mt. Pleasant Trail, later named the Henry Lanum Trail. By that April, I had organized a group hike consisting of my friends to hike from the Tye River up to the summit of The Priest, a 3000 foot climb.  I've been back to do these hikes many times since 1993.

I had hiked some in Virginia during the eight months I had lived here since moving from Maine, but my first hike to the summit of Cold Mountain really hooked me.  I've since been back to hike every single trail in the GWNF's Pedlar District where my original hike is located.  And every trail and fire road in Shenandoah National Park.  And every mile of the Appalachian Trail from the Virginia/ Tennessee border north into Pennsylvania - over 600 miles.

Since that first hike, I now have a GPS library of over 250 Virginia hikes. I led trail map revisions for the PATC covering the Blue Ridge from Shenandoah National Park down past the James River - the latest revisions in a series of maps dating back to the 1930's. I've led hikes for the Boy Scouts, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, and the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club. I am leading five hikes this year before the end of March.  I've maintained this blog since 2009.  I write for the website Hiking Upward. I own a large personal library of Virginia trail guides. Yet I am still far from the most knowledgeable person around here when it comes to trails.  There is still much to explore!

But twenty-five years ago I didn't know the local trails and I wanted to know the mountains better. So I joined a hiking group.  They showed me trails around Sherando and taught me that Winter hiking in Virginia is spectacular.  They took me into Three Ridges Wilderness before it was a wilderness - in the snow, when there was no one else there.  They showed me Elliot Knob and its spectacular views. They convinced me to purchase an annual pass to access trails in Shenandoah National Park. I am forever grateful for their expertise and the knowledge those hike leaders passed on to me.
From Ellot Knob.
Thanks to the internet, there are many more options for learning about hikes today, and many groups where you can sign up and participate on hikes. Many more options than I had! But some are much better than others, and here is why.

I cannot recommend strongly enough to new hikers that they hike with one of the local trail clubs.  Most new hikers won't do this - they will join a Meetup group instead. And I like Meetup groups - I am a member of several. There are hiking meetup groups for folks living in every part of Virginia. There are Virginia-based meetups sponsored by outdoors stores.  There are meetups for folks wanting to hike with dogs or with babies.  There are meetups for folks wanting long hikes or short ones.  There are meetups for singles.

But nearly every single Meetup falls critically short in several critical areas if you are an inexperienced hiker.  So before you join any hiking group, ask the leaders these questions:

1. What does your group do to help maintain trails in our area?
Most new hikers don't immediately go out and maintain trails, but without volunteers to maintain our trails, they fall into disuse.  The trail groups I link to at the end of this post all maintain trails in addition to offering hikes.  You don't have to be a member of the trail group to go on the hikes, and you don't have to maintain trails to be a member of a trail group.  But becoming a member of your local trail group allows the group to have the money to purchase the equipment to do trail maintenance.  I believe that every avid hiker owes it to the community to give back a small portion of the time, and am a trail maintainer for a section of the Appalachian Trail, as well as a participant in trail groups maintaining trails in Ramsey's Draft Wilderness. I believe that every hiking group is responsible for promoting a percentage of time devoted to trail work.  Ask your hike leader if s/he volunteers to maintain trails and if the group sponsors trail work - you may be surprised that they do not!

And here is an added bonus.  I hike regularly with the Natural Bridge Appalachian Club, linked below.  Often, their Saturday hike routes are the same trails that their Wednesday trail crews cleaned up earlier in the week!  So a hike with the NBATC is almost always on newly maintained trails.

Does your hiking group do this?

2. What training does your group's leaders have in Wilderness First Aid?
Nearly every hiking group is going to ask you to sign a waiver which waives liability if you injure yourself on the trail. But if you do get hurt when out hiking, don't you want your leader to be experienced in the ways to get you back to civilization with a minimum of risk? And shouldn't your leader bear some blame if s/he takes you to a place the leader should have known is dangerous? I re-certified for Wilderness First Aid in January.  Certification lasts two years, and I've been certified three times.  Each time I have to give up an entire weekend for an exhausting 20 hours of classroom and practice time.  Most of the other hike leaders in my trail club have done the same - in fact, my trail club contributes to the cost of recertification!  I feel I owe it to the people who put their trust in me as their hike leader. Anyone can be a hike leader, but not everyone goes through the training.  And without the training, your hike leader won't know what First Aid equipment to bring in case of an emergency. And, while not every trail group hike leader has Wilderness First Aid training, I've found a higher percentage do in the trail maintaining clubs.

3. Has the hike leader actually hiked the trail s/he is leading, or did she read about it in a book or on a website like the one that I write for - Hiking Upward?  Does s/he have maps?
There was a story a few years back about a scout troop that backpacked on the AT near my home.  It snowed overnight and the scout leaders did not know how to get out without retracing their steps over suddenly icy trails.  They didn't know the area and had an insufficient map, so they didn't know they were very near an easy bugout route that would return them to civilization.  Instead, they called the rescue squad and ended up in the newspapers. Remember: anyone can find a hike online and lead a group there.  Because trail groups include members who work on the trails, their knowledge is likely much higher.  At a minimum, your trail leader should know the hike and have hiked it before during the time of year you will be going. (Not just Winter!  I've been on trails totally overgrown and hard to follow in Summer that were easy in other seasons.) When I hike with trail maintaining clubs, often not just the hike leader, but many of the participants also know the trail exceptionally well - and participants often have special interests, like birds or flowers, that can add greatly to the hike experience.

4. How many other hikers are going?  
Depending on the location of your hike, there are federal regulations restricting the number of hikers that can hike together. Areas include federally designated wilderness areas, such as St. Mary's. Devil's Marbleyard, Hanging Rock in Three Ridges, The Priest and Ramsey's Draft.  Does your hike leader know about this restriction and account for it?  If your hike is projected to be in a wilderness area and your hike leader has opened the hike to 15 hikers, there is something not right.

If you are new to Virginia and enthusiastic about additional hiking opportunities, I encourage you to check out and join your local trail maintaining group. There are links below to many of the clubs in Virginia, and most have links to their upcoming schedules and/or newsletters.  You do not need to live near the club to join!  I am a member of several of these clubs. Trail maintaining groups in Virginia include:

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club - Maintains trails in Shenandoah National Park, 250+ miles of the AT, and a large number of National Forest trails.  They have chapters for local areas, including:
PATC Charlottesville Chapter  (Here is a link to their blog describing previous hikes: Link.)
PATC Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter (Harrisonburg and Waynesboro)
Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (Lynchburg and Lexington)
Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club (central Virginia including Richmond)
Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club (southeastern Virginia)
Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (includes Christiansburg, Radford, and Blacksburg)
Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech (open to the public)
Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers (mostly North Carolina, with Virginia members)

I know your membership will prove to be a rewarding experience. It has for me.



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Marshall Draft Trail

The point of this blog is to feature remote and obscure trails in Virginia, so that they don't fade into oblivion while 95% of the state's hikers rush to hike locations like Old Rag and MacAfee Knob multiple times.  This description highlights one of the more remote and obscure trails in the George Washington National Forest.

The Marshall Draft Trail climbs the west side of Shenandoah Mountain in Bath County.  I hiked it to access a section of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail I'd not yet explored, and to check out the site of an old fire tower.

My personal definition of a "remote" trail hinges on how long I have spent off pavement getting to the trailhead.  Under this definition, the most remote trailhead I've achieved is the western end of the Sinclair Hollow Trail, found on the west side of Ramsey's Draft Wilderness.  Arriving at this trailhead took over 90 minutes on dirt Forest Service Roads to reach, riding in a high clearance pickup truck because my Outback would not be able to handle the access roads.

Parking along FS 394 just north of the trailhead.
Trailhead sign is somewhat visible on the right.
The Marshall Draft trailhead is not quite as remote as that, but it is certainly among the top 5 most remote I have reached in Virginia.  From Charlottesville I drove 85 miles over 2 hours, including 7.5 miles (24 minutes) on dirt/gravel forest service roads to get to this trailhead. The trailhead is located on a twisty road (Sugar Tree Road - FS 394) off of another dirt road (Scotchtown Draft Road - SR 627) on the west side of Shenandoah Mountain in Highland County, Virginia.  The trailhead coordinates are N38° 10.242' W79° 32.544'.  Coming south from U.S. 250 is a little harder, because the turnoff from SR 614 is unmarked.  Heading south on SR 614, the turnoff onto FS 394 (here called Nelson Draft Road) is just south of SR 614's Cowpasture River bridge crossing.

View from the trail looking down at the parking area. 
The trail climbs steeply right from the start.





I hiked the trail during hunting season as I knew the access road would be passable.  Earlier in the year I attempted to reach the same trailhead but was thwarted by a tree that fell down across the entire roadway.

The trail itself is marked by a trail sign that had deteriorated to the point that 2/3 of the sign was rotting on the ground.

This decaying signpost marks the lower end of the Marshall Draft Trail.
This photo shows the Marshall Draft Trail ascending from the access road, then switching back a the double diamonds.

The trail deceptively switches back about 20 feet into the hike, takes a right turn about 100 feet later, and then climbs straight up the mountain.  It is deceptive because you won't again see a switchback over the entire trail! The first 4/10 of a mile climbs at a whopping 23% grade before moderating only slightly to an 18.2% grade over 7/10 of a mile.  In its 1.3 mile total length, the Marshall Draft Trail climbs from 2200 to over 3500 feet elevation.  Needless to say, it provides an incredible workout!
The Marshall Draft Trail ascends along the side of a mountain ridge.
It washes out a little about 2/3 of the way to the top, but generally is in great shape.

The Marshall Draft Trail (MDT) ends at its intersection with the Shenandoah Mountain Trail (SMT).  Keep a sharp eye looking at where you came from, as the MDT is much less evident than the SMT - the SMT gets a lot more use, mainly by mountain bikers.  See the photo below noting that both trails are marked by the same yellow diamonds. The diamond for the MDT is much harder to pick out on this photo. (Click on the photo to expand.)

This intersection is a saddle between two peaks on Shenandoah Mountain - Wallace Peak (3795 ft. elevation) and a higher peak to its northeast named, appropriately, Northeast Peak (3811 ft. elevation).  Wallace Peak is of more interest, described in detail below.

Also at this intersection is a potential camping spot, and a wildlife pond.

Wildlife Pond on Shenandoah Mountain.
 A road used to come up here from the east (along a stream with the wonderful name of "Jerkemtight Branch"), and maps now show the road permanently gated near its eastern end.  The road actually continued to the summit of Wallace Peak, and it must have been closed when the old fire tower on the summit of Wallace Peak was eliminated.

I was curious to see the summit, as I had heard that locals often hike up there.  Would there be a view?  It wasn't easy to find out, as it took me some time to find the road's location.  The access road isn't found on my trail map, and though it is obvious at lower elevations coming up from the east, it disappears near the wildlife pond.  I eventually found it - I am pretty sure the wildlife pond sits where this road used to be.  There is a large pine tree just uphill from the pond, and the road reappears just to the west of that tree - toward the SMT.


As you can see from the photo above, the roadbed becomes very obvious once you get away from the wildlife pond.  There is even a campsite in the middle of the roadbed about 1/3 of the way up from the pond.  It is about 3/4 of a mile each way to the summit and, though I found the base of the tower, there was no view to speak of up here.  It was an easy and obvious route to the summit, once found.
The rocks mark one of the concrete bases for the tower.

Panoramic view from the summit of Wallace Peak.
USGS Topo shows the location of the road to Wallace Peak.
Though it is no longer used, it was easily found once away from the intersection.
After returning from the summit, I headed north on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail.  I had hoped to link up with the intersection of the SMT and the Nelson Draft Trail, which I had reached earlier in the year on another hike.  It was a pretty dreary day, however, and a fine rain started when we were hiking north.  I gave up after completing about 2.3 trail miles north from the MDT, figuring I'd try again another day.  Upon returning home and downloading my GPS data onto my computer, I was surprised to see that I was still over 3 miles as the crow flies from my goal.  I am glad I turned around, as I might still be out there!

The Shenandoah Mountain Trail is a really long, remote trail.  It extends about 25 miles between paved road crossings and this portion of the trail goes for over 17 miles without road access of any kind.  It is a relatively popular mountain bike trail, and given its length, this makes perfect sense. The mountain biking community has had a profound effect on this trail, both good and bad.  The bikers are good for the trail because they clean blowdowns off of the trail - this trail would not be in nearly the shape it is in without them!  But they also use the trail when conditions are wet and their tire tracks form channels which cause "cupping" in the trail. Rain uses the trenches and erosion is hastened.

The Shenandoah Mountain Trail between the Marshall Draft Trail and the Nelson Draft Trail shows evidence of
mountain bike use: the slight downhill here has the trail forming a slight trench ("cupping")
which will further deteriorate the trail as rainfall runoff channels into the trench. 
This section could use a couple of water bars, which divert the rain off of the trail and downhill. 
Bikers hate this form of trail protection because it gets in the way of long coasts on bikes.

Before dropping back to the road, the Marshall Draft Trail gives this view west to Bullpasture and Jack Mountains
in Highland County.
It is interesting to note that USGS maps dating back to 1946 indicate that the Marshall Draft Trail used to continue past the road where I accessed it (as this road remained unbuilt on most maps).  The trail continued all the way almost to the town of Williamsville on the other side of the Cowpasture River.  The current trail is only about a third of the original trail, though the western portions of the trail are on private land.  I saw a trail continuing past the road, possibly to meet up with the original trail.  The road's construction blew away the portion of the ridge that the trail originally used.
The red in this map is my route.  The faint purple is the alignment of the access road, and the black dotted line
shows the Marshall Draft Trail continuing until meeting a rough road near the Cowpasture River.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Greenwood Point Trail, GWNF

The Greenwood Point Trail is located nearly on the West Virginia border, along Lake Moomaw, north of Interstate 64 and south of Virginia Route 39.  The best access from Charlottesville is to go west of Staunton to Rt 42, take that to Rt 39 in Goshen, and take 39 almost to West Virginia before turning south on Rt. 600 to the Bolar Mountain Campground, location of the trailhead.  The drive is about 2 and a half hours from Charlottesville. See the map at the end of this posting.

I took my scout troop out here in mid-September for a backpacking trip, sight unseen.  It was an ideal location for the troop, as the hike was about 3.5 miles each way, with some fairly strenuous parts and some nice views, and a large lake near the campsite. The hardest thing about the hike was figuring out where to pay for our campsite!

Because we camped in mid-September, we went out of season.  Two of the three campgrounds were closed for the season, and it was difficult to figure out how to get vehicle passes to leave in our cars. What you have to do is drive to the marina, which is still open, and pay for the passes there. The cost was incredibly low!  It cost us a total of $8 for the troop to camp at Greenwood Point, and to obtain six vehicle passes.  We parked next to Bolar Campground #3, at a turnaround area just a few sites away from the trailhead.

Although there is less than a 400 foot elevation gain between the low and high points on this trail, it is a surprisingly tough trail.  This is because most of the elevation gain and loss is right in the middle of the route.  On the way out to the campsite, you climb up to a vista, then drop steeply to a dry creek crossing before ascending briefly but very steeply again. The trip doesn't seem as steep on the return. It was very easy to follow the entire way and was not at all overgrown.

As you come to the Greenwood Point Campground, you leave the woods and come out into an open area.  The first thing you cross is an old macadam road, which predates the lake.
This map shows two editions of the USGS Topo - one before the lake and one after. 
The campsite is just below the former Perkins Point landmark.  
As you can see, a road went through the area prior to the lake filling in.
There are some old signposts, then several campsites scattered around the area.  One is near the water to the left. Two are to the right where the woods and the field meet.  And one is far to the right on the lake shore.  When we arrived, both lakeside campsites were taken, but the interior sites were bigger and worked better for our group.
Our campsite was in the trees, just south of a small open field.
There was a picnic table, a couple of fire rings and a tent pad in each of the
four campsites we found.
The lake was low, but I am not sure whether this is due to dry conditions or officials draining off part of the lake at the end of the season - or both. The boys enjoyed the fishing at the lake though the group did not catch many fish.  One boy who did catch a fish reported doing so using a large lure he found at the site. Fishing and dropping rocks into the lake kept the scouts entertained, and most reported liking this campout better than the backpacking campouts on the Appalachian Trail, our usual destination.
There were also a couple of old privies near our campsite.
I was glad I didn't need to use one!  The scouts who did
called them "dark," but they still beat digging a hole.

This shows another campsite closer to the beach on the north end of the field.


This was our "beach" on the northern end of the peninsula, right where the road would have submerged into the lake.

Morning shot from the beach looking northeast.
Autumn starts to encroach on the trail in mid-September.

Adult leaders bring up the rear when backpacking.

Group shot of the scouts.