Blue Ridge Pastures (2-27-16)
It wasn't until late last year that the name 'Blue Ridge Pastures' even registered in my consciousness. How or why it escaped my attention for so long is beyond me but as soon as I 'discovered' it I quickly determined this was a place I needed to visit, and soon. Located amongst a non-descript collection of peaks to the west of Hickory Nut Gap, Blue Ridge Pastures' grassy summit commands views which many taller mountains could be envious of.
The peak itself has only recently been protected from development. Acquired by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy in 2012, the 120-acres that includes the summit ridge will eventually be linked with other protected properties surrounding the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge. There is only one trail leading to the top, the Trombatore Trail, which was completed in 2014 and is named for a family which formerly called the mountain home. It's a well-built trail but by no means an easy one. Over its 2.5 mile length from Bearwallow Gap to the Pastures it descends 500-vertical feet in the first mile into the drainage of Brush Creek before beginning the climb to the top. This results in a 'V'-shape hike elevation-wise, meaning you're going to find yourself with fairly serious climbs coming and going on this hike.
Don't let this deter you though! The effort required is more than compensated for by what you'll find at the top. If you have the good fortune to visit on a clear day as I did the panorama will include the high peaks of the Black Mountains to the north and the rugged landscape of Hickory Nut Gorge to the east. Its a place words don't adequately describe...I'll let my photos attempt to do that. So, lace up your virtual boots and come along with me as I discover the natural wonder of Blue Ridge Pastures...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.460739, -82.367913
Route Type: Out-and-back Difficulty: HARD
Mileage Hiked: 5.5 miles Hike Duration: 2:10
Trailhead Temp: 35'F Trail Traffic: 1-5 people
Min. Elevation: 3,130' Max. Elevation: 3,740'
Total Vertical Gain: 1,170' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 213'
Trails Used (blaze color): Trombatore Trail (unblazed)