This winter has been hard on me. In early January, I was diagnosed with an ear infection, sinus infection, and bronchitis, which returned, again, in late February, and left me with a cough reminiscent of a consumptive from a Dickensian tale.
Despite inhalers, steroids, antihistamines, decongestants, aromatherapy, humidifiers, holistic anti-inflammatory remedies, honey, tea, and saline rinses – the cough has remained.
Blame it on the weather – Arctic one day, tropical the next – allergies, or a mystery illness – but I’ve been slowly losing my mind due to my inability to do anything that elevates my heart rate lest I descend into a coughing/ asthmatic fit that lasts for hours on end – unresponsive to anything other than sitting for extended periods of time.
During this time, I researched hikes and trails in the area, earmarking new areas to explore to keep my mind occupied and hopeful for a day in the near future when I could take up hiking and running, again (a much more productive endeavor than self-diagnosing myself on Web MD).
One trail that particularly caught my eye on a friend’s Instagram feed was Glassy Mountain. It wasn’t a trail I had heard of, but he hiked it with such regularity that I assumed it would be close to town and relatively short. After a quick Google search, I discovered that the Big Glassy Trail to Glassy Mountain was built as part of a series of trails (totaling 5 miles) on the 264 acre Carl Sandburg tract in Flat Rock – a mere 25-minute drive from my home in West Asheville.
As my cough eased and the weather warmed over the week, I decided to take the short drive to the homestead (neighbor of the Flat Rock Playhouse) on Sunday afternoon. Visitors and hikers enter the Carl Sandburg property via a paved path that leads from the parking lot directly to the beginning of the aptly named Front Lake Trail. I decided to follow the trail to the left, away from the house, to access the Big Glassy Trail more directly.
Navigating the trail is easy as the system is incredibly well maintained with clear markers along the way, and benches every quarter of a mile or so. There are several ways to access the main trail to Glassy Mountain (Big Glassy Trail), either by continuing along the Frontlake Trail to the Memminger Trail from the parking lot, or accessing the trailhead just beyond the house and before the goat barn if you want to visit the home before starting the hike – I opted for the Front Lake to Memminger Trail.
Shortly (about 0.1mi) after passing around the lake, you’ll come upon the junction of the Front Lake Trail, Little Glassy Trail, and the Memminger Trail (Which leads to the Big Glassy Trail). The Memminger trail is a loop that starts and ends at the main house and wraps around Little Glassy Mountain (which can be accessed by a smaller side trail), while the Glassy Mountain Trail climbs from the far end of the Memminger Trail. Take the Big Glassy Trail uphill to the left, which takes you the rest of the way to the top of Glassy Mountain. This is where the trail’s steepness increases moderately, as well.
Hiking up offered enough of an incline to get my blood pumping, but the shortness of the hike lessened the intensity. The trail systems are well trafficked with families, hikers walking dogs, and a few trail runners – a great option for those looking for a hike that can accommodate all ages and abilities, or for those wanting to take a solo endeavor. At the top of the mountain (about an hour from the parking lot to the granite rock outcropping), you’ll see the sign for the Glassy Mountain Scenic Overlook. Follow the directional markers, and you’ll be treated to views of Mount Pisgah, Lake Julian, Laurel Park, and Jump Off Rock on a clear day. There are several benches to relax on and enjoy the vista, and take time to meditate.
After a quick snack and some deep breathing exercises, I retraced my steps along the trail and was back at my car in under a half hour. While the trek was relatively easy, the charm of the hike and property, and the short distance from town, is quite alluring. In under two and half hours, one could fit in a quick hike with a view, and take time to enjoy a tour of the property afterward. The visitor center is under the porch of the main house and features films, exhibits, a bookstore, and ticket sales for a tour of the home= built in 1838.
For more information, visit www.historichendersonville.org.
By Whitney Cooper