Nearly 11 years ago my then wife Cheri and I bought an acre of
land and doublewide at the base of Kings Mountain just outside of
Dana NC. In 2002 I asked Dan Hinkle who owns part of the lower part
of the mountain for permission to hike there and later ran into the
owners who owned the summit who gave me permission to hike there and
also gave me permission to fish a small pond on the other side. I
lost the home in a divorce over 4 years ago but still hike the
mountain occaisionally. Friday I decided to take a hike there and
for the first time do an ENTS report on the site since I was in the
area doing the bulletin for the church.
The hike starts by taking a driveway off Justice Hills Drive and
going into a field located on the lower part of the mountain. The
majority of the forest on Kings Mountain is young. Some of it was
once apple orchard which has been since reclaimed by forest. However
some older trees are found, especially nearer the summit. Various
oaks, especially chestnut as well as tulip poplar, pitch pine,
Virginia pine, maples, hollies, black locust and an occaisional
white pine are found here. A few trees exceed 100 feet in height.
After hiking through the woods above the field you come into an old
road which leads to the summit. It is usually well used by 4 wheel
atv vehicles but by the looks of it they have not used it for
awhile. I measured both a sizeable paulownia and chestnut oak before
reaching the summit. The summit itself is a small clearing with some
locusts, in which some are dead snags and a couple of decent pitch
pines nearby. Other trees surround the
small clearing. They are some small ratty hawthorns here too. I
measured a fat pitch pine here. Moving off along the spine of the
mountain I measured another oak and then went to a place I have
named " Druid Rock " I sat and relaxed a minute. This small rock
overlook, surrounded by rhodo overlooks a largely oak forest with
some pines and other hardwoods present. It is my favorite place on
the mountain. Following the trail down the other side through a dip
than up again then back down I get to a place on the right of the
trail that I call " Holly Bluff ". It is a small hill that has black
cherry, maple and other hardwoods and American Holly is common in
the understory on the hillside. I measured one nice holly here. This
area also overlooks the property of Larry & Holly Mims, two close
friends of mine who own property across the small valley on the
nearby ridge. They have 8 acres of forest I hope to get a closer
look-at in the future.
Walking on, I come out into a clearing at the base of the
mountain opposite of where I came in. The hike is up and over the
summit, down the other side around the mountain back to the starting
point, a loop. Upon entering the clearing I quietly came across five
browsing deer. I watched them for 30 minutes. The key to watching
deer is to stay still. Even though I was in the open, as long as I
stay very still, especially when they are looking my way, they don't
get too alarmed. I think their eyes work more on detecting motion
than recognition. Me being in full camoflage probably helps too. A
squirrel came within 10 feet of me before seeing me and running off.
In the past I have seen some pretty pheasant in these woods too.The
deer finally saw me after I had slowly moved a fair distance away. I
think they saw a glint of light from my glasses or the clinometer
hanging around my neck. The woods near the clearing have a lot of
Tree of Heaven, which I often
call " Paradise Tree ". It is shorter and easier to remember, of
course it is Ailanthus Altissima. Locust also is here. A pretty
peach tree which blooms beautifully in spring is nearby.
Hiking the clearing along the mountains base I spied a large
white pine down in a ravine with a lot of debris piled around it. It
proved a challenge to measure but turned out the tallest I measured
today at just over 117 feet tall! Walking out I noticed what
looked like fire ant mounds. I found this unusual since I have never
found fire ants in the WNC mountains. They are very common at dad's
in Lowndesville SC. People have told me that they are present in
Greenville Co in upstate SC as well as in the foothills of Polk and
Rutherford counties NC. Knocking the top off of a mound with my
stick the ants came streaming out. I see now they have made it up
past the escarpment into the mountains, probably aided by
increasingly milder winters. Given more time they will probably
overspread the mountains. We in Asheville will probably see them
I saw a nice red-tailed hawk while walking out who called out
while passing over.
I noticed a row of healthy hemlocks planted along an apple
orchard. I suspect the orchard owner may have treated them. They are
healthier than the others in the area. From a distance I thought
they were red cedar, which is scattered out in the nearby forests.
Near a neighboring house I measured a nice tuliptree. Over 100 feet
tall! From here it was a quarter mile walk back to the car.
I thank Dan Hinkle for still allowing me access to the mountain
though I no longer live near him.
Here are the trees measured.
70.5' ( MT ) Girth measured at 2.5ft