Once I discovered information on this hike online, I was surprised by how it took no convincing at all when I mentioned to Tom that it was 7 miles round trip. Even better was the fact that the drive was only a half an hour instead of the usual hour or more it takes to find some good hikes outside of Asheville. The hike had a strange beginning, technically through someone's backyard (first picture) and then through a dirt road where we had to smush ourselves against some trees when a car passed.
Some background info I found: The Laurel River feeds into the French Broad River (which runs through Asheville). The trail follows along what was once an old railroad bed (although there are absolute no railroad remains in sight, so I question this information). The end of the trail reveals the remains of what was once the logging town of Runion. Apparently founded by New Yorkers about a hundred years ago, loggers would chop and float their wood down the Laurel River to the sawmill where it was then shipped by rail down along the French Broad to other areas. The town once thrived with over 1,000 inhabitants but crumbled when the logging company went bankrupt in 1916.
The entire trail was along the river
These funky little statues made by hikers are proving to be pretty popular in these parts. We've seen a couple along other river trails. This one was taller than me!
Adding to the totem
the beavers are working hard
The trail rises steadily towards the middle and you eventually end up with awesome views of gorge/canyon. This picture doesn't do much justice to how high the rocks climb along the edges of the river.
This is apparently the old sawmill. It was pretty massive on the outside but seemed pretty small looking in.
The end of the trail, the now active railroad that runs along the French Broad.