This moderate, 1.7-mile path takes you into the 373-acre Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve, which is a wonder nestled within a pristine mountain gorge. The Eastatoe (pronounced “EAST-a-toee”) Creek Trail is relatively easy for most of the way, but drops precipitously down into the gorge for its last .5 mile (Of course, that means you’ll have to hike back up to return!). The forest teems with large beech and hemlocks as well as wildflowers such as partridgeberry and jack-in-the-pulpit. Switchbacks make the going a bit easier, and stairs are provided where the trail descends/ascends more steeply. Following a rain, footing can be difficult (at one point, the trail borders a 100-foot cliff). The rewards, however, come in Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve, which is home to a beautiful stream filled with naturally reproducing rainbow trout. Across the creek is a cliff with a small, attractive waterfall. Due to the unusual humidity in this area, three rare tropical ferns grow here that are not found anywhere else in North America. Yellow blazes on the Eastatoe Creek Trail are sometimes confusing, but the end of the trail is well marked with a triple blaze. Return the way you came.
I was able to test several pieces of new gear including my Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Duo, Serenity and my MYOG GoLite Ion. I'll be posting more on those topics very soon. If you can't wait, the short version is: if you are considering any product from MLD go get it now and if you're planning on using an Ion, pack light! The hike in took about an hour. There are plenty of camp sites and unlike most areas with easy access they were all clean and well maintained (read: not a mudhole with broken glass and rusted beef stew cans). After getting set up we napped through a 45 minute afternoon shower which seemed to send most of the mosquitoes packing. Since we had a lot of energy left over at camp we were able to do some bushwhacking to find the gorge and waterfalls on Eastatoe Creek. I'd definitely recommend this trip.
Eastatoe Creek Trail
My MYOG GoLite Ion and my new favorite trekking poles, Gossamer Gear LT4s(notice the generous dry patch left behind after a 45 minute afternoon shower)
Stinging Nettles - pesky little buggers