Cherokee Indians called it Blue Wall. Known today as the Blue Ridge Mountains, this chain of peaks veiled in a blue haze has long been a favorite with hikers.
The Palmetto Trail’s Blue Wall Passage runs through the easternmost section of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, offering a breathtaking 1,400-foot climb in a little more than two miles.
It starts innocently enough at the entrance to the Nature Conservancy’s Blue Wall Preserve, 575 acres of protected land designated by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area. More than 110 different bird species have been observed here, including the Black-throated Blue Warbler and Scarlet Tanager.
From the information kiosk, you’ll walk across Vaughn Creek to the first of twin ponds. The still water offered a mirror-like reflection of the towering Hogback and Rocky Spur mountains to the west. At this point, we knew we were in for a beautiful, if not strenuous, hike.
When you get to the second pond, you’ll have the option of taking a loop trail to the right that leads to a small waterfall or walking left and continuing along the Blue Wall Passage. During our visit, there wasn’t much water coming down the 25-foot rock face, but it was still worth the mile-long divergence.
As you leave the Nature Conservancy property and cross into the Landrum Watershed, the trail narrows and takes an increasingly steeper ascent to Vaughn’s Gap. The last half-mile was particularly grueling for those of us in the pack with only two legs to propel us up the mountainside.
At the saddle between Hogback and Rocky Spur, you’ll arrive at a road that runs along the ridge. We stopped here to have lunch and let the dogs rest. (OK. So maybe it wasn’t the dogs that needed the break.)
The trek down the mountain was equally challenging. The blanket of leaves covering the ground made it easy to lose your footing or stumble over rocks hidden under the foliage. Using hiking poles certainly helped keep me on my feet.” From Palmetto Trail passages,
This is a moderately easy hike, slight uphill grade thru the woods along a very wide obstacle free path.
The destination is two scenic ponds and an optional additional .7 miles to a 30 ft. waterfall.
The return walk retraces the same path. The total mileage is approximately 5.0 miles. We will take a snack break and you can return to the starting point at any time.