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  1. #11
    Senior Member Kanguru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWoolyBanjo View Post
    Hi, It's "The Wife". Does anyone know anything about the Elk Garden area? Balsam Mountain? There are a few trails there I'm interested in. Helton Creek Trail, Sugar Maple Trail. Somewhere, someone said these were "lightly used" and it looks as though you have to cross Helton Creek a few times. We are really not interested in camping at the state park, we do that enough throughout the year.
    Thanks in advance,
    "The Wife"
    Don't know as much about that specific area. More the west end of things. Whitetop is the name of the community close to Elk Garden. I think views are better in the Rhododendron Gap area, but with a week you could explore all. Check some AT info. Don't think it's too far to Elk Garden from Rhododendron Gap via AT south.
    Enjoy!
    Gentle raindrops and mighty oceans...neither can exist without the other.
    Time heals all wounds...but it usually leaves a pretty big scar.

  2. #12
    slowhike's Avatar
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    I've parked at the Elk Garden parking area & took the AT into Rhododendron Gap several times.
    It's a really nice hike through there & if you base camped in the Rhododendron Gap area, you would still have the water & multiple trail choices mentioned before with out ever going into the state park.

    I've never been on those other trails, but looking at the map i see that those trails are shared by both hikers & horseback riders.

    Major portions of those trails follow the contour lines meaning that it should be easy enough walking most of the way, but a trade offs for using the horse trail are lots more exposed rocks & horse stuff to watch for, as well as needing to stop, step off trail (to the down hill side if possible) each time you meet a group of riders.
    Also there are two steep walks included in that loop.

    That may be a nice walk through there with the creek next to the trail part of the way... I just don't know how much horse traffic you may see in that loop. My guess is that there is plenty of horse back riding in the Mt Rogers NRA this time of year, but I don't know how much those trails get used.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  3. #13
    Thanks Slowhike!

  4. #14

    Successful trip

    Well, the trip was a success. If you're looking for solitude, try that Helton Creek area. We saw people twice in the 4 days we were there. No one was camped within at least 1-1/2 miles from us. Heck, there were a couple of days when we didn't see a soul (except for some cows)

    Anyway, thanks again for your input. I wish I could spend the entire summer in the southwestern Virginia area.

    -BigWoolyBanjo

  5. #15
    Senior Member Kanguru's Avatar
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    Glad it was nice...I'll look into there as well.
    Gentle raindrops and mighty oceans...neither can exist without the other.
    Time heals all wounds...but it usually leaves a pretty big scar.

  6. #16
    slowhike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWoolyBanjo View Post
    Well, the trip was a success. If you're looking for solitude, try that Helton Creek area. We saw people twice in the 4 days we were there. No one was camped within at least 1-1/2 miles from us. Heck, there were a couple of days when we didn't see a soul (except for some cows)

    Anyway, thanks again for your input. I wish I could spend the entire summer in the southwestern Virginia area.

    -BigWoolyBanjo
    I'd be interested in hearing more about the Helton Creek Area. That may be a loop I'd like to check out sometime.
    Did you meet any horseback riders after getting on that trail?
    How about pictures???<G>.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowhike View Post
    It's actually some great tasting water... after it's been run through a filter<G>.
    Even before...

  8. #18
    slowhike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightwalker View Post
    Even before...
    No doubt, but there's to many hoofed critters running around there for me to be drinking unfiltered water<G>.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  9. #19

    Re- Mt. Rogers/Helton Creek area

    Believe it or not, on the hike in we saw 2 AT hikers (sans packs) fill their canteens & drink without filtering. Not me.

    Anyway, Slowhike, it's just shy of 2 miles from the Elk Garden parking area to Helton Creek. All downhill, too! From the area we camped (at the intersection of Helton Creek Trail & Helton Creek Spur) there's 2 or three loops you could do, mosly overlapping eachother at some point. 5-10 mile day hikes are available. via Helton Creek Trail & Spur, Silver Maple Trail, VA Highlands Hosretrail, and AT (out & back).

    The only folks we saw once we got there [U]were[U] on horseback. 2 on one day and 6 a couple of days later. That does hind of muck up the trails a bit, especially for the few days after a rain.

    There's 3 or 4 large fields down there in the valley, where we saw cattle grazing and warming yourself up. There were some nice views there. Just beautiful.

    Hope you can get there sometime.

    PS - a few people had cautioned us about that parking area at Elk Garden not being safe. We parked a Lexus there (which was next to a Mercedes when we left and a BMW when we got back) with no problem whatsoever. I hope I'm not cursing it...

    -BigWoolyBanjo

  10. #20
    slowhike's Avatar
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    Thanks BigWoolyBanjo.
    I've never seen a problem w/ the cars left at the Elk Garden parking lot the 3 or 4 times we've used it.
    You never know, but I'd feel better leaving it there than some of the other places we've left cars<G>.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

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