Cook Hill has become my favorite hike this year and with Fridays hike, I can say I’ve seen it in all seasons. As much as I love winter/snow hikes, the fall color really takes the cake and now is the time to see it.
Most of this route is a trail atop an ancient logging road so the grade is seldom very steep and never muddy. One of the best in the gorge, IMO.
I managed to get up about 7 and out the door at 8:15 so was able to start the hike at the TH on Cook-Underwood Road at 9:50. Early enough to do some exploring and that was one of the goals for today.
A few years ago Chip Down posted a photo without comment of a wrecked car he spotted on Cook Hill. (Chip, thanks for the challenge!) All I knew is that it was there somewhere, but no clue as to where. I found it on June 30th and it looked like a ’39 Ford but I wanted to check it out further to be sure of the year and make. After a few more photos and a little research, it turns out it is a ’39 Mercury. That mission accomplished, I was off to see what else I might locate.
Now off-trail but continuing up the hill, I found some absolutely HUGE chanterelles. Not expecting that and having no good way to carry them for the whole hike I noted the location and continued up planning to grab a few on the way back. As it happened, serendipity came in a pair when I found a hood from an old car near the chanterelles.
After some more research, it turns out that this is a hood from - what else but - a ’39 Mercury. I wonder how the hood ended up 4/10 of a mile and +500’ elevation from the rest of the car, and, above the road/trail instead of below it. I’ll probably never know – another intriguing gorge mystery.
The fall color is near its peak in the lowest elevation, a little past peak up to about 2,000’ and completely done above that. A few photos:
The upper meadow:
I lost a camera on the upper section of the Augspurger part of this route July 13th (I know, “what! Don lost another camera!”) To be sure, those who’ve hiked with me will attest I’ve turned losing/destroying cameras into a fine art. I made a half dozen return trips over the summer to search and in the process did a lot of much needed trail brushing but no luck finding the camera. Friday, I had hoped that with the recent hard freeze knocking out most of the forest floor plants I would be able to find the errant camera. Again, no luck. Oh well, my I-phone takes better pictures than that camera did – (but I’d at least like to get that 20 gig chip back and the pics I took that day!)
If you like fall colors and want a hike all to yourself, get up there this week.
11.6 miles, 4200 EG (Only 8.1 miles and about 3000' EG if you just do the lollypop loop:
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Bravo!A few years ago Chip Down posted a photo without comment of a wrecked car he spotted on Cook Hill. (Chip, thanks for the challenge!) All I knew is that it was there somewhere but no clue as to where. I found it on June 30th...