Monday, April 23, 2018

Exploring the Sewanee Perimeter Trail

The beauty of the University of the South Campus in Sewanee is only exceeded by the beauty of the land that surrounds it.  The campus itself is described as the second-largest among all college campuses in the U.S., with 13,000 acres of land.  Rimming the campus, and in fact, the town itself, is the legendary Sewanee Perimeter Trail, and associated trails.  I have concentrated on exploring these trails over the past several days; and in the springtime, what a delight this has been.  I don't begin to do the surroundings justice with the smartphone camera shots I have taken, but I will at least, perhaps, provide a small sampler of what is out there, with a couple of photos that I took per trail (subject to further updating).

This hyperlinked PDF article, entitled "Sewanee's Best Day Hikes," will be my guide in describing my experience.  The map embedded in this article can be accessed as a separate PDF file.

Trail 1: Cross/Perimeter/Tennessee Williams Loop (1.25 mi).  This is a
fairly impressive, but not a spectacular trail, that takes you through some impressive boulders, as described in the article.  At the Cross, one gets an excellent view of the valley floor below (500-800 ft elev) from the Cumberland Plateau (1800-2000 ft elev).  The town of Cowan rests below Sewanee.  On a scale of 1-9, I rated this trail a 5.

Overhang area
Proctors Hall
Trail 2: Cross to Morgans Steep (1 mi one-way = 2 mi RT).  This trail is highly impressive, with abundant overhang features.  Unlike other parts of the Sewanee Perimeter Trail that go above the bluffs, this portion is just beneath the upper bluff features.  One feature became an impasse for me the first time I was on the trail, namely the Proctor's Hall Feature, where one has to descend about 7 ft with toe holds to negotiate.  Another time, when I was better rested, I successfully passed beyond this feature, which was a major personal victory for me.  On a 1-9 scale, I rated it a 9.

Bridal Veil Falls
Trail 3: Morgans Steep/Bridal Veil Falls/Bluff Loop (3 mi).  This trail definitely exceeded my expectations for two reasons.  First, the falls was as far below ground level as it was above ground level.  I wasn't expecting that!  The falls goes into a very deep hole, then completely disappears, which, apparently, is not that uncommon in the Cumberland region.  The second, pleasant surprise is that there is a very good trail that goes more-or-less directly up to the bluffs above the falls, so that the return trip followed the rim, turning the trail into a loop experience rather than a simple down-and-back round trip.  On a 1-9 scale, I gave it an 8.

Trail 4: Morgans Steep/Lake Cheston via the bluff (2 mi RT).  This trail was the easiest, and would be a good trail for jogging.  The route along the bluffs crosses several homeowners properties.  It sort of felt like I was trespassing, but it is clear that this was a well worn trail, so not to worry.  There was nothing special about the small lake.  I stopped and talked with a fisherman for a little while.  He was fishing one side of the lake while his wife was fishing the other side.  On a 1-9 scale, this got a 4.

Trail 5: Western Section Perimeter (7.5 mi loop). I haven't done this one yet.

Trail 6: Forestry Cabin/Dotson Point (4.5 mi loop). I haven't done this one either.

Trail 7: Thumping Dick Cove (2 mi RT). This one looks interesting but I haven't done it either.

Trail 8: Cedar Hollow Lake (2 mi loop). Haven't done this one yet either.

Sewanee Golf Course
Green's View
Trail 9: University East Gates/Beckwith's Point/Green's View/Shakerag Hollow Loop (3.5 mi).  I didn't see the loop when I did this trail, so I missed the Shakerag Hollow portion upon returning from Green's View back to the parking lot at the University East Gate.  For me, it was a round trip trail.  Part of this trail fronts the University's Golf Course.  The trail was much more interesting than I anticipated, with some excellent bluff views.

Trail 10: University East Gates/Piney Point (2 mi RT).  This is next on my list.

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