223 - Gum Pond Horse and Wagon Trail     Map

Easy.  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, though prior to 2008, either activity would have been challenging. The pine trees next to the trail had encroached enough space so as to pose an obstacle for horseback riders, and never mind trying to squeeze a wagon through here.

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 northern end.

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 in the early 2000's and the landscape is still littered with many downed trees. In their place, it was the Loblolly pines that sprung up on both sides of the path that accounted for its narrow 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 is 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.