Route: Auger Hole Trail
Type: Out and Back
Distance: 10 miles
Conditions: Cloudy, Humid
Impressions: For what ever reason, I've been staring at this area on my map ever since we moved down to Asheville. First, I'm a sucker for State and National Parks, I like to see how each state embraces their natural wonders and often they are encompassing some amazing landscape. Second, the sound of a "gorge" is always appealing; Not to mention a couple of river crossings. So, with a day off, Rooney and I went down to check it out, it's only a little over an hour from Asheville, NC...
Anyway, the trail is easy to follow and meanders through some serious wilderness. With the sounds of rushing water and really tall, lush tress surrounding the A.H.T., this was the most secluded I've felt hiking within Pisgah. There were some signs of use, but I was the only car in the parking lot and didn't see another soul on the trail, which was great! Rooney ran around and I got lost in all the green.
I packed my Crocs in anticipation of the fords that I had read were on this trail. Initially, the first looked daunting and actually gave Rooney some trepidation. However, after I put my Crocs on and made it about half way across, he quickly joined. The water, while moving pretty fast, didn't make it up to my knee so it was a fairly easy ford to make. Once across Toxaway River, the A.H.T. cuts right through the heart of the Gorges State Park. The trail "levels off" and really just becomes a series of slight ups and downs, it's actually a really pleasant walk. The second ford is again, not even knee high and the current was much less than the first. Overall, both crossings were pretty tame and could be done on most days. Obviously, during high rainy times, this trail should probably be avoided, but other than that, it was a great trip.
Since I was limited with time, I wasn't able to hike the entire trail, which eventually connects to the Foothills Trail. A loop can be done using the A.H.T., Foothills Trail and the Cane Break Trail. If you are considering this, plan on almost 20 miles and it taking all day.
While this trail didn't have the classic rocky landscape that I come to expect from a "gorge", it provided some serious seclusion and peaceful hiking. I'm excited to head back out there and do the loop. Highly recommended, check this trail out if you are looking for some adventure and alone time.