Brush Mt Trail update 6/23/12

10:03 p.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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Been a lurker here for some time and thought I would contribute. Needed a leg stretch and break from the bama heat so went up to what I have considered for years as my home mountains........albeit they are 4.5 hrs away. I had never hiked the Brush mt trail before so I decided to rough the summer brush and give it a go.

Left out of Rattlesnake Rock Friday ~2PM  and make my way to the South Fork Citico and downstream. Set up for the night just shy of Ike Branch on river left of SF of Citico. The next day made my way downstream to the crossing and began my way up hill. The part of the trail that follows the creek was good to go and not so hard to follow for the most part. No real blowdown problems that I remember. Once topped out and make the right turn....up hill...then down to the spring/creek crossing atop the mountain. From there I climbed up then back down to a broad gap area that was REALLY overgrown and it was here that I had to take the pack off the first time to look for the trail. My gut said it was straight ahead and up the hill but you know how you second guess your self at times. I could not see any blazes in any dirction and walked around for a few minutes. It appeared that others had lost the trail here as well due to faint trails to the left and right. There was a campsite here with an old pot someone had left that was big enough for 8 ears of corn. Soon I found my way strait accross as my initial gut instinct had said. I then saw the dayglo tape around a tree. This spot may be better in the winter/spring but with the brush up 4-5 ft it was hard to follow. Once the trail climbed up towards the next ridge and veered leftit became very faint again and as it followed the slope below the ridge there were several blowdowns that made the going tough along with the 5 foot weeds. It went though. There was marker tape in this area if you looked hard enough (thanks whoever left it) and it was useful. One other area near a hilltop covered in Rhodo/Doghobble was super overgrown and had to be pushed through with force.......this was 1/4 mile or a little more before the junction with the trail to upper NF citico and trail to gap. Was happy to reach it and the going was easy to the intersection of the gap. Thought about heading up to the Bob for the night but was worn out and headed down the SF trail to what I call the flower pot camp(old iron caldon). Spent a noisy night of snoring and headed up the hill to rattlesnake rock Sunday. It was a good leg stretch and break from our hades style heat here.

The brush/brambles were high and the ticks were out in numbers. I think the Brush Mt. trail would be easier to follow and on the Psyche in the winter. Thought I would give an update in case any one was heading that way. I will be back in the winter to try and help stamp down a legible trail trough there. Didnt see any one else all week end on the trail but did spot some folks camped near the SF Citico and Ike Branch confluence......but they didnt spot me as I came through.

I really liked the Brush Mt trail and hope to be back but wish it was somewhat more easy to follow. I guess that takes people using it and I like it because it is not used much at all........oh well. Catch-22.

12:41 a.m. on June 27, 2012 (EDT)
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When I first read your thread title "Brush Mt" I had to do a double take as very few backpackers hike the rugged Brush Mt trail in the Citico wilderness.  I've done the trail about 7 times in the last 10 years and gotta say it's the most rugged trail in an area already known for rugged trails.

Your route seems as follows:

** Jeffrey Hell down to South Fork.

**  South Fork down stream to a big crossing. Did you take the 2 crossing detour??  If not there are 3 total crossings---but the water's low now.  Actually four crossings to get to Brush Mt trail.

**  White Rock Camp on the South Fork or somewhere near the Ike Branch trailhead (which requires yet another South Fork crossing).  If you cross the South Fork there's a great campsite right at the start of the Brush Mt trail.

**  Up Brush Mt to trail 149 and into Cold Spring Gap.

**  Down the South Fork to Iron Camp (big blowdown in the middle of camp, with the iron ring).

**  Finish South Fork to the Jeffrey Hell crossing and up and out.


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Here are some shots to stir your memory.  This is on the Brush Mt trail right after "Satan's Teat" (if heading uphill).


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On one of my Brush Mt trips in 2009 I passed by the guys responsible for clearing the trail.  Before they worked it the trail was in TERRIBLE shape---I know cuz I backpacked it before and after.  Here they are resting on the Brush Mt trail.


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The spot you mention where you found a big cookpot (past the little creek) is a place I call Bug Camp, above.  Right past this camp is Satan's Teat.


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Here's a view of the trail as it climbs up next to the creek.


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There's a real nice campsite not far from the trailhead and maybe a quarter mile up the Brush Mt trail.


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There's also this great campsite right at the start of the Brush Mt trail next to the South Fork crossing.


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Here I think is the best place to cross the South Fork if you want to reach the trailhead to the Brush Mt trail.


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A major landmark on the trail.  If you're coming down the trail, seeing this old Model A engine block brings hope cuz the trail is almost over.  If you're going up, well, hell follows.


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The trail gets very tricky near Ike's Peak where it leaves the water and goes uphill on uncertain tread.  The trail itself is in this picture, but of course there are about a dozen tributaries running every which way.  Which is the trail?


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Near the top the trail stays close to Brush Mountain and passes by several nice rock formations.


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Backpacking the Brush Mt trail, either up or down, is hellish, especially in the summer.  Here I am near the top and in The Lizard State whereby the eyeballs get pinpoint and pain doesn't register and I'm in the Drone Zone.

I hope these fotogs bring back memories and they remind you of some of the spots on this great trail.

10:19 a.m. on June 27, 2012 (EDT)
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I am really glad of this report, as I hope to hit Brush Mountain on one of my next trips.  Well, maybe one of my fall or early winter trips :)

10:44 p.m. on June 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Your description is dead on with 4 crossings on the SF. That campsite just up the Brush Mt trail from the bottom was a beauty. Just upstream a ways from the waterfall.

 


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There was a little confusion like you said when near the top the creek forked above this large  moss covered rock that you cross over to the left if going up. It did go in and out of the stream bed but I guess my mind was fresh when going thru there and didnt have too much a problem and only got off track a few times.


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Once I topped out up near Ikes pk and the trail swung right along that ridge it was really overgrown through there until the little spring....but it was very legible as where to go. Now what you call Bug camp was to me the most confusing and the weeds were so high you couldnt really see the ground to see a trail but I finally got on track. From there to the "teat" was touch and go as far as being on the right track. Once it made it to the top and swung left there were a few trees down that made the going rough and I kept loosing the trail and blazes thru there. That was where I was thankful for the faint marker tape I saw. It helped tremendously due to the summer growth. I kept hoping the trail would go up to the ridge and stay there but the route I found thru there stayed mostly below on a fairly steep slope. I didnt get many pictures in that section because by then I was in drone zone/tunnel vision state hoping I could figure it out. Once to the top of the trail at the intersection my spirits lifted trremendously to be on familiar ground and I practically skipped to cold spring gap.

Its a good trail and now ive gone thru once I dont anticipate any promlems but I do think i'll wait till winter before I go thru there again! and down hill next time. But I think I went in looking for exactly what I got as far as a new trail that was a challenge.

 

Iron ring/ flower pot camp on SF Citico


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The flowers were out pretty good

 


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Heres a shot of the upper intersection of Brush Mt and the trail to cold spring gap/upper NF. It kind of gives the idea of how high most all plants were


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And last but not least the one lonely snake I saw along the SF. Not sure why camera blurred it so much.


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I do thank the fellas who do maintenance on this trail and others in the area.

msmith




 



 

11:15 p.m. on June 27, 2012 (EDT)
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1,200 forum posts

Winter is a really good time to tackle Brush Mt as then you can see the mammoth rocks near the top of the trail near Brush Mt ridge.  Very few people hike this trail so it will close up with brush unless maintainers come out quarterly to clear it. 

BTW, your "moss covered rock" is my favorite place on the trail as the rock is big and the trail is rugged and I always like to dump the pack on the big slanted rock and take a break.

December 19, 2014
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