FATMAP difficulty grade
As with the final leg of the previous section, the start of this section winds through more beech tree forests as it flows around a hillside, littered with house size boulders, to the base of a pretty challenging climb. This climb gains about 1,000 feet in the next 1.5 miles.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds, because the trail builders created long sweeping switchbacks to lessen the grade.
Along the way, there are several large boulders and tall mature trees to take your mind off the steep ascent. As the OHT winds around a turn and then crosses a creek (a reliable water source) in a small ravine, before reaching mile 59, you will pass a fire ring to the left of the trail.
If you leave the trail and walk to the opposite side of the fire ring, there is a great view down into the Little Mulberry River Valley.
This is one of the best campsites on the OHT! You can set up your tent up with a rock bluff ledge as your front porch.
That way, early in the morning you only have to unzip the door of your tent to be greeted with a great view of the valley below.
Life is good! This is also a great place to explore the rock formations below the bluff and then scramble under the stream the trail had just crossed for a nice waterfall. Continuing on, the OHT runs along the top of the bluff line, offering many more views of the forested valley below, before turning away to skirt a pine plantation planted in the early 1980s.
Further along, the trail crosses a gravel road.
If you need a break or just a good hot meal, you can hitch a ride south for about five miles to the small town of Oark.
There you will find a general store turned café, which serves up some pretty good meals, in addition to great pie! The stretch of trail past the gravel road routes runners past the base of several bluff shelters that usually have class B waterfalls flowing over them.
This is followed by a gentle downhill stroll into Lynn Hollow, with views into the hollow from the trail. The run out of the hollow passes another beautiful waterfall just before reaching a gravel road, which is also the Arbaugh Road Trailhead.
Once again, be sure to sign into the trail register. You will be running through another valley for the next seven miles, with a couple of creek crossings with reliable water, before climbing up Moonhull Mountain.
The base of this climb passes three more waterfalls to stop and enjoy.
There, the trail crosses a gravel road at the top of Moonull Mountain then drops down into another hollow.
The next section is a beautiful stretch of trail, especially in the spring: the forest comes to life with fresh wildflowers and blooming dogwood trees.
It follows a bench above a small stream before dropping down to cross Boomer Creek, then routing runners along another bench overlooking the stream from the opposite mountainside. Eventually, the trail drops you down for a normally wet crossing of the Mulberry River.
Use caution here, because the current can be strong.
In 1993 James H.
Boomer, a New York Supreme Court Justice got swept up in the rain-swollen current and drowned.
Please observe a moment of silence for him when passing through. Immediately following the river crossing, the trail crosses a gravel road before routing runners up another long (1.3 miles) climb to the end of this section at Highway 21.