Little Duck Hawk Ridge

I have been to LeConte about 60 times.  The majority of those trips have been up Alum Cave Bluff Trail.  Between Inspiration Point and Alum Cave Bluff is a great view of a steep, vertical rock formation known as "Little Duck Hawk Ridge," "Kissing Camel Ridge" or "Eye of the Needle."  It is associated with Peregrine Peak which is the large moutain to its NE. Another view is after you pass Alum Cave Bluff the trail makes a turn to the right.  Look to your left through the trees.  You will see a side trail ending at a cable across the trail with a sign.  That is a far as you can legally and morally go. 

Below is the quote from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park of its "Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations , Chapter 1, parts 1-7 authorized by US Code Section 13" with specifics to this area.  Simply put, if you have not made it to Little Duck Hawk Ridge before the closure, you are too late.  Its closed....

Section 1.5 deals with public closures.  Here is the statement:
"Trail and Backcountry closures

The rocky ridge adjacent to the Alum Cave Bluff area,commonly known as: "Eye of the Needle", "Little Duck Hawk", and "Raven's Roost" is closed to public access. The closed area is a narrow rocky ledge that runs in a north/south direction. Closure signs will be posted approximately 100 yards from the junction with Alum Cave Trail along a manway leading to the mentioned ridge. This closure is to prevent disturbance of nesting Peregrine Falcons. The success of Peregrine Falcons in raising their young is significantly decreased by human disturbances. Successful nesting has been observed."

I have seen and heard the falcons!  What a sight.  One day I heard it fly over me before I saw it.  Magnificent!  So, I respect this regulation in defense of the falcons.

Below are a few pics from before the closure. I climbed out to the hole in the rock and took a picture of Alum Cave then went to Alum Cave and took a picture of the hole.  I am glad I did it when I did!

Here is Alum Cave from where I was standing at the hole in the rock at Little Duckhawk Ridge.  Note the hikers standing under the overhang.

Norwood Boiler below Clingmans Dome

When I was growing up I heard about a train that wrecked on Clingmans Dome and rolled down the mountain.  Of course that was a definate legend to chase!  So, a few years ago I found that it was a MYTH.  Here is the story as I know it.  Before 1926 the Norwood Lumber Company clear-cut basically the south side of Clingmans Dome.  I do not know how far down however.  What I do know is that there is a lot of evidence remaining.  Many RR grades, skidder trails, rails, coal, etc. are all over the mountain.  The "train" that is below the Dome is actually a boiler which produced steam to operate a winch to pull logs up the mountain to train cars.  If you have been to the massive piece of metal it is lying in its side.  I saw a picture (which I am trying to get a copy of) that has the boiler standing upright.   When I get a copy I will post it.  Here is the boiler...

As you can see, I am standing on the flat grade.  From the Clingmans Dome parking area take the trail toward Andrews Bald.  Turn right onto Forney Creek Trail. Go about a 1/4 mile and look for a cairn on teh right.  The old RR grade is pretty obvious.  Turn right off Forney Creek trail onto the grade.  You will see rails, coal, etc and then will come upon the boiler.  So, its a MYTH....a train did not wreck on Clingmans Dome!  HOWEVER there is a boiler there!