On November 27th, six members of the Cherokee Hiking Club made the hike to the top of Big Frog, utilizing the Lick Log Trail. This trail was constructed in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps out of the camp at Tumbling Creek in the 1930’s. From the trailhead on Forest Service Road 221, the trail climbs steadily along Licklog Ridge before it intersects with the Benton MacKaye trail coming up out of the Cohutta Wilderness in Georgia. The last 0.5 miles the two trails follow the same path to the top of Big Frog, elevation 4224 feet. Going west from Big Frog, there is nothing higher till you reach the Rocky Mountains.
The climb up to the top took about 4.5 hours, and the temperatures never got above freezing. The group was treated with clear blue skies by mid morning, and above about 3800 foot elevation were treated with the beauty of rime frost on every limb, twig and blade of grass. While many people see Big Frog in winter with a crown of white, mistakenly thinking it is snow. In fact many times it is rime frost, caused by the fog crossing across the mountain top with temperatures below freezing, and ice forming delicate crystals on the downwind side of any structure.
After a quick lunch at the top, the hikers retraced their steps back down at a much quicker pace to beat dark before reaching the trailhead. Thick drifts of fallen leaves on the trail made this quicker pace a bit more tricky as uneven trail tread was hidden. The pace averaged about two miles per hour going down, and all were back to the trailhead by a little after 4 pm. This is a great winter hike because with leaf off, there are nice views back toward Copperhill and the North Carolina mountains. Also, there is little danger of overheating. Big Frog is a treasure in Polk County, and the surrounding area is rich with early history of the European settlement of the land. Members making the hike included James Anderson, Sue Robinson, Megan Callahan, Judy Price, Al Johnson, and hike leader Jack Callahan.
For more information about the Cherokee Hiking Club go to the website at www.CherokeeHikingClub.org.