It is the 4th time I've been down hiking in this area, dating back to 2012 when I first hiked here as part of my quest to complete the entire A.T. in Virginia (link). I come back even though it is a 90 minute drive to the trailhead and there are lots of closer trails.
There are several good trails here, but I was always curious about the area because I have a 1974 edition guide to the A.T. that describes the AT back then coming out of the mountains at the bridge which is the northern end of the Little Cove Mountain Trail. (And this explains why there is such a great bridge for an otherwise minor trail.)
|Bridge at northern end of Little Cove Mtn Trail|
crosses Jennings Creek.
I've always been curious to find the old A.T. route. And I thought I had but a friend who really knows these woods told me that I hadn't gotten it right after the 3rd time here. The USGS topo confirmed that the trail I used on Trip 3 was not the A.T., as the topo still shows the older route of the A.T.
The older A.T. route went through the Middle Creek Picnic Area then followed the access road to the Jennings Creek Road before turning onto the bridge, requiring a road walk of nearly half a mile. (The current A.T. is almost a mile further west, and only uses the Jennings Creek Road to cross Jennings Creek before ducking back into the forest.)
In 1974, A.T. hikers heading southbound crossed the bridge and then passed the Cove Creek Lean-to (sited way too close to the road!). This shelter is now long gone, and a campsite exists in its place.
According to the old guidebook's southbound directions, 1974 hikers then "Turn right. (Ahead is trail to Little Cove Mtn.) Ascend steeply for 0.4 m. on wide trail up east slope of Cove Mtn. toward ridge crest."
|Do you see the old A.T. location in this photo taken from the Little Cove Mtn Trail?|
|Here it is again with the location marked. Virtually invisible, but generally easy to follow once I get around the curve. |
Still, it was basically a bushwhack.
|Here is another photo of the old A.T., again showing a clear trail route.|
|Glenwood Horse Trail where it starts using a superseded portion of the A.T.|
|Present Glenwood Horse Trail uses the old A.T. as it traverses Cove Mountain|
|Here is a close up of the old white blaze and the painting that tries to hide it.|