223 - Gum Pond Horse and Wagon Trail
This rather straight flat trail is the start of the shortest path (without
bushwhacking cross-country) to the ever-poplar
Big Tree. Horseback riding and horse-drawn wagons
are also permitted on this trail; that's in theory. By 2008, the pine trees
next to the trail had encroached enough space as to pose
an obstacle for horseback riders, and never mind trying to squeeze a wagon
However, in the fall of 2008, the Forest Service organized a volunteer work day
to widen the trail sufficiently for both horses and wagons. That effort was
successfully completed with the help of Wild South in January 2009.
The north end adjoins the
Braziel Trailhead and the south end
merges into trail 208 - Northwest.
The northern end of trail 210 - Mitchell Ridge also runs
off of 223 – from the east side of the trail, about a half mile from the
The path starts on a ridge and basically stays there for its entire length.
This section of the forest was particularly damaged by the Southern Pine Beetle
infestation several years ago and the landscape is littered with many downed
trees. In their place, Loblolly pines have sprung up on both sides of the
path, making it rather narrow in places.
Aesthetically, the area could be considered somewhat desolate,
especially when the leaves have fallen off the hardwoods.
Though some may prefer this more austere character, the walk is definitely more
cheerful when there’s some greenery around.
For some reason, the birding can be very good along this trail.
Maybe the pines along the way hide the birdwatcher from the birds.
The only half-decent camping locations are at either end of the trail
and you will need to schlep your own water either way. The main uses of
trail 223 are for horseback riding, day-hiking to the Big Tree, and for access
to trail 210.