The gravel roads are still closed in the gorge. I decided that I would park at the gate on Rock Bridge Rd and just walk the 3 miles to the normal trailhead and then loop back on the Turtle Back Arch trail to the road then my car. It would be about 11 miles, but ~5 miles would be the road, so an easy hike. I figured I would be guaranteed to have the place to myself.
Got out of the car at 9:30 after dropping kids at school/daycare. The thermometer said 30 degrees, it was overcast and damp. I'm glad I went back in the house to get a hat and gloves.
It was a pleasant road walk. After less than an hour, I was at the Rock Bridge Trailhead.
View from the overlook about half way down the Rock Bridge Trail, cold and grey, it started snowing about a half hour later.
And then headed down the Swift Camp Creek Trail. Swift Camp Creek was really running, lots of silt from the last couple days of rain. It looked like the creek was 6-8 inches higher in the very recent past. When the weather warms up, I'm coming back to do a little creek walking.
Then off to check out Pooch Falls. I knew there was a waterfall here, but I had never bothered to climb down the cliff to actually see it from below. A while back, someone posted a picture on kywilderness.com of the falls and I knew that I wanted to check it out the next time I was in the area. It is a very cool waterfall.
Then up the hill to find Turtle Back Arch. I had last been here a couple years ago and remembered the basic location. After a little bit of poking around, I found the arch. It ended up being higher up the cliff face than I remembered.
View from the top of the arch
It took a little bit of doing, but I made it to the top of the ridge and found a very obvious trail. It was very easy to follow once I was on top of the ridge. The sun had sort of appeared, so it was a very nice hike back to the road and then to my car.
Interesting tree, maybe a "Cherokee Tree"
A great 6 hours in the gorge. Once again, I did not see anyone.