Wildcat Rock Trail
One of the more challenging (but I promise, fun) hikes for kids is the Wild Cat Rock Trail in Gerton. Beautifully maintained by Conserving Carolina, this strenuous, out-and-back, uphill hike includes a private fruit orchard, stream-crossing, rock climbing, and vista views–not for the faint of heart, we finally completed this trail (after a few proper attempts) with our youngest Poppy and one of our oldest girls, Gaby.
This trail has one of the most beautiful scenes complete with apple trees scattered along it and a small orchard which sits on private property. A vacation home sits on the right side of the trail as you continue on passing another private retreat path marked with visible signage. After crossing a stream there will be a small bridge as the trail starts it’s ascent. The first set of switchbacks is great for stopping to get a few breaths in as well as snacks for the little ones.
Little Bearwallow Falls climbing area
Halfway through the hike, there will be a waterfall (depending on rain) as well as a giant rock face where climbers and kids alike will want to check out. We stop here to cool down if there’s water coming off the rock or to have a snack before climbing the stairs on the right of the mountain–here, it will continue up as the trail that leads to the vista point. It’s about another 1.5 miles left where we consistently scurried up and around various rock features, narrow trail, and some serious switchbacks. You’ll also come to a fork and the right side has a private sign–veer left.
The view from above
The sign for Little Bearwallow Mountain leads you to the final ascent to the viewpoint. Once you reach it you’ll see a clearing which overlooks Upper Hickory Nut Gorge. We had to help Poppy shimmy through the rock sides. The flat rocks allowed us to look out and revel in our spectacular reward.
A few tips for completing this hike:
-This hike will definitely get your blood pumping. We consider ourselves to be avid hikers and completing the harder parts were a challenge for us.
-Bring poles if you have them. They proved to be helpful especially during the egregious parts and while trekking with Poppy in the carrier which we used on and off throughout the hike.
-This trail is great for bigger kids looking for a personal challenge! Gaby, one of our older girls did awesome and it ended up being the perfect training supplement to her upcoming football season.
-Be open to allowing your little to hike uphill. We consistently like to try harder hikes with Poppy to slowly build her stamina up. we took her out of the carrier on the staircase climb as well as portions of the trail where there was a slight incline.
-Bring extra water. We all ran out of water the last leg going back to the beginning of the trailhead. You don’t realize how much water you drink when the trail is mostly uphill!
-Lastly, there are no bathrooms so be prepared for your family to use Leave No Trace ethics.