Mockingbird Trail

 By Joe Feeman

Mockingbird Trail/Road was a county road at the time of TVA purchase with a 16 foot right of way. The trail has been open to vehicular traffic until recently when it was gated closed. This was done to protect the road from vehicular traffic in wet conditions and reduce management costs in the watershed. Although this road was closed, there is still vehicular access to Hi Point Road from other points. The trail will change from a green trail to a purple trail, open to all non-motorized users. This trail starts at Upper Clear Creek Road, just past the rifle range, and has a small parking area (this is also the parking spot for Eli Nine Trail).  Mockingbird Trail is 0.8 miles long and gains about 180 feet in elevation.

The trail climbs a short hill, then levels out and becomes rockier. To the right is a forest of white oak, scarlet oak, and sourwood on a very poor, rocky site. In the late 80s most of the red oaks on this site died from oak decline, a complex of environmental and pathological conditions which causes oaks to die. There is also an abundance of greenbrier (sawbrier) in the understory. The left side of the road is an old field that doesn't appear to have been planted in pine by the CCCs. Red maple, yellow poplar, dogwood, and scattered shortleaf pine now occupy the site. The trail follows this flat lane for about 0.3 miles, then turns right and climbs another short hill. Along this stretch, notice the knob (hill) on the left, across the drain. This was in large hardwood trees when TVA purchased the property and has not been cut since. It contains some very large, old trees, although mortality has increased steadily. You will also notice the big leaf magnolias along the road; this is the only location I know of for this tropical looking understory tree in the watershed. This is also one of the few places in the watershed where sandstone is located. This is not a coincidence; bigleaf magnolia is our native magnolia that grows in sandstone conditions. (The Big South Fork Park, which is dominated by sandstone geology, has an abundance of this magnolia.) Our other native magnolia, umbrella magnolia, which is common in the watershed, is found on limestone areas. The third native magnolia in the watershed is cucumber tree, which gets much larger (can exceed 20 inches in diameter) and is found on both rock types.

You will drop down and over a rocky drain and then climb up to a flat area. Both sides of the road were old fields when purchased and don't appear to have been planted. The field on the left is a wildlife opening, maintained by bush hogging. Past the end of the field (away from the road) is a small pond that serves as a waterhole for wildlife. The road turns left and begins to climb on a deceivingly long, moderately steep ascent. After a right turn you will see yellow paint spots on trees which signify the safety zone along Hi Point Trail. In 300 feet you will reach Hi Point Trail and another metal gate. 

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