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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:39 PM   #1
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Default Mostly Iron Mountain

Have enjoyed many hikes up on Holston Mt, including the great views across Shady Valley and over to Iron Mt. But have never taken time to hike on the Iron Mt trail. Last weekend decided to correct this oversight!

Iron Mt Trail is over 50 miles of mostly ridgeline hiking. It is an old section of the Appalachian Trail, still maintained by local hiking clubs.

We did not have enough spare time to check out all 50+ miles, just took an easy 10 mile hike at the southern (Johnson County TN) end of the trail...
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:41 PM   #2
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Most of the trail traverses younger, second-growth forests over rolling ridgeline countryside.
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:43 PM   #3
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Unlike the Holston Mt Trail, and because of the dense nature of young forests, there were only a few places with fairly good views. Might be better views this winter when the leaves are down (will have to go back and see!)
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:44 PM   #4
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One interesting "trail feature" are the mile markers! Yes, someone in a local hiking club has placed mile markers along at least some parts of the trail. (No speed limits posted though...)
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:48 PM   #5
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As usual, with the puppies along, we did not see a lot of the larger wildlife. But we did see a lot of Black Bear sign - some very fresh. Bears tore into this rotten log for grubs and such. And here is a bear dropping (scat). You can see bits of wood (from rotten logs!), also seeds of blackberries and wild cherries.
We also found where a Black Bear had been digging up Yellowjacket nests and eating the Y.Jackets. But photos of a hole in the ground are not very exciting, so I won't post those...
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:51 PM   #6
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Speaking of Blackberries, there were still quite a few ripe berries (my dogs have learned to pick them off the bushes without getting too many thorns in their lips!), but the Blackberry leaves are already showing some autumnal tints up on Iron Mt. So are the Black Cohosh and Smilax leaves!
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:54 PM   #7
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And other wild fruits are ripening - like Blue Cohosh, Solomon's Plume, and Yellow Mandarin. It seems that I usually look for the pretty flowers (of these and other woodland plants) in the spring, but often neglect their equally interesting fruits in the fall. None of these are edible for us (just a feast for the eyes), but they are great food for many birds, for chipmunks, and for bears as well...
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:57 PM   #8
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It's been a dry month, and Iron Mt has very few springs or creeks. Yet is remains moist enough even at this dry season to be home to some interesting mushrooms, and rich, varied lichens as well...
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 8:59 PM   #9
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And the fallen logs are rich & moist enough to become "nurseries" for the future generations...
(PS - which of these views do you prefer?)
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 9:01 PM   #10
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Although the dogs scared off all the bigger "critters," we did spot some of the smaller ones. Saddleback Moth larvae are wandering - cute looking, but those are very potent stinging hairs!
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