Jennifer Jacobs lead the hike to Old Stone Fort Archaeological Park with James Smith, Nabil Wahid, Valerie Galan, Peggy Nunley, Nadine Myers, Ann Hokirk, Hilda Vaughan, and Barry T. Click.
Hike Report Saturday September 22 2012 Old Stone Fort
The first day of autumn and weather so perfect you wanna bottle and sell it....a luscious backdrop for a simply delightful little jaunt through one of Tennessee's best kept hiking and camping secrets....Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Area. Our lucky group of nine began our hike around 9 am descending from the museum's earthen walls along a bluff that leads to an overlook above impressive Blue Holes Falls.This is just after it splashes over the dam. Mindful that the autumnal equinox was fast approaching one of our hikers set his watch to 9:45...the exact moment so that we could all make a mighty whoop to the skies!At this spot, the Duck River spills 35 feet over limestone steps of jagged rock then makes its way 200 feet diagonally through the gorge where it will soon join up with the Little Duck. The hike leader Jenny Jacobs had opted to go barefoot alternating between flip flops at the muddy or flat bits of trail. Good thing the deep green moss so reminiscent of the southern Appalachian Mtns was abundant and dry on most ports of the trail. The group continued past a the site of an old abandoned paper mill. Back in the day water falls were the most obvious source of energy and here was a perfect place for a mill. At different times in the area's history, mills of all kinds were built here--saw mills, gristmills, rope and gunpowder to name a few.Manchester, the county seat of Coffee County, was named for the English industrial city in hopes that it too would become a major industrial center based on the numerous waterfalls along the Duck and Little Duck rivers.
The group continued to take the outer wall options snaking past the biggest of the Duck River falls named Big Falls. 90 feet wide at this point , the river drops 7 feet roaring another 30 feet over a bedrock shelf into a deep pool. The group continued up to the wall trail along the wooden planked portion canopied by oaks, tulip poplars, and a wide assortment of re-berried trees and shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry and sour woods. We descended down a stile, stopping for our autumnal equinox photo. We continued to just beneath the Little Falls portion of the trail taking time for a break next to the shallows of the Little Duck. We backtracked our way to the moat trail meeting at the Forks of the Rivers Loop and made our way through thick riverside vegetation to pick up the Backbone Trail. This path climbs sharply up a narrow backbone ridge separating The Moat trail from the Duck River. This stretch meanders through mountain laurel and azalea and at the places is barely wide enough to hold the trail.Purple aster and goldenrod fill in the sides of the trail in a beautiful array of color. After finishing the backbone loop, hikers ascended the ancient wall and made their way around the wall enclosure to finish the hike at the museum clocking in at just 4.0 miles.