If we would do any hiking, it would have to be a high trail, so we parked at the Braley Pond Road parking lot for the Wild Oak Trail and headed uphill to the Dowell's Draft Trail, east of the road. This turned out to be a great hike, as we took the old (pre-mountain bike) version of the trail on the way back.
Over 5 miles, we ended up hiking only about 25 feet of trail twice. And the old trail alignment, even though superseded 4-5 years ago, was still in really nice shape. The lack of use meant it was soft with pine needles. And we didn't have to worry about mountain bikers screaming down the trail at us. We shouldn't have had to worry about that anyway, given the wet trail conditions, but we still came across one biker who apparently doesn't care about tearing up muddy trails.
|This summit has a Wild Oak Trail sign even though there is no intersection here.
I'm guessing the Dowell's Draft intersection used to be up on this summit,
based on the USFS basemap shown in the map below.
Below is a map I constructed showing the old and new alignments of the Wild Oak Trail. When combined with the Dowell's Draft trail and the Betsy Trail, it creates a loop hike about 5 miles long that has only 25 feet of common trail over its entire distance.