Chinquapin Mountain Trail
At A Glance
3.5 mi one-way
Difficulty Rating: 5.41
Steepness: Climbs Moderately
Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Lowest Elevation: 3470 ft
Highest Elevation: 4200 ft
Climb Total: 750 ft
Blaze Color: Blue
From the Glen Falls parking area, descends briefly to cross the East Fork Overflow Creek on a sturdy bridge, then begins ascending the valley of a lively tributary stream in a generally northwesterly direction through a thick rhododendron understory.
There are some small cascades on the stream but nothing worth exploring more closely. Spring wildflowers line the trail in places including Catesby's trillium, Trout Lily, and Bellwort. The trail enters a more-level area where the stream becomes more lazy, and then crosses the stream or its tributaries several times. This section is muddy with lots of rocks and roots, and passes through a former hemlock forest. It could use some serious maintenance or even a few re-routes in places.
The trail has one signed junction at a place that touches the stream. A spur path leads across the stream back to NC Hwy. 106, where there is an alternate parking area. The stretch up to here from Glen Falls is nice though, so I recommend parking there unless you're short on time or the parking lot is full.
The trail makes a switchback to the southwest and then begins climbing Chinquapin Mountain through a series of switchbacks. The rhododendrons gradually give way to more open woods and some neat, mossy rock outcrops appear. As you approach the summit, spur trails for the various overlooks appear on the left - they start at 5 and count down to 1, because whoever named them apparently came up from private property at the north end of this trail.
The sign for the first overlook is nailed to a tree at a junction; this one has a beautiful view of the Blue Valley and all the way over to Whiteside Mountain, and is right next to the trail. It is well worth it. Be careful; the sloping rock gets steeper farther down.
Overlook #4 is also right next to the trail but has a very limited view between the trees.
The spur to overlook #3 is a bit further along than 4 and 5, near the summit. The spur trail to it is also a bit longer (about 0.1 mi), and descends rather steeply, which means you have to come back up. But the view is spectacular! It pops out at a couple of rock outcroppings with sweeping views toward Rabun Bald in GA.
Overlook #2 is reached by a short, twisty side trail, not as long as the one to lookout 3, but still a bit off the main trail. It is worth the extra distance, and makes a good turn-around point for the hike.
I haven't visited overlook #1 because the information and photos I had suggested that it wasn't worth it. I recommend turning around at #2 - beyond this point, the trail turns north, begins descending and crosses onto private property before supposedly ending back at NC Hwy. 106.
Can be combined with the Glen Falls trail for a longer hike starting at the same parking area, or from the Blue Valley experimental forest parking area for a true summit hike that includes Glen Falls at about the half-way point.
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