Destination Murphy/Brasstown NC

Last Thursday we made a quick trip up to Murphy, North Carolina. This was not a vacation. My brother-in-law passed away in August and this trip was to attend a remembrance dinner in Brasstown. John was a popular guy in this neck of the woods. Although not a vacation and not even a happy trip, let’s face it Murphy is beautiful, located in the Smoky Mountains, and John was a happy person…always!

We rented a lovely house well situated between Murphy and Brasstown. It was big enough that two of our adult sons (and family) could stay with us. Actually most of the family was able to come so it was really nice to see everyone.  Our schedule really only had us in Murphy 2.5 days and much of that time was devoted to family, but I did squeak in two runs.

Prior to leaving for Murphy I made a grand attempt to scope out potential running spots. I tried to find running clubs, a running store, races….anything that would lead to local knowledge.  I googled running trails, running routes…Nothing! So I was on my own. I did find a mountain bike club and their website pointed me to some potential trails but they were a little far. I also found the Murphy Riverwalk.  This looked promising, but I didn’t make it there.

Saturday morning I needed to run 5 miles. I knew James (the hubby) wanted to spend some time with family, so I opted to run in the neighborhood around the house where we were staying.  I managed to find a loop (well sort of a loop) that gave me just over a mile…four times and I had five miles.  Not overly exciting, but effective.

Later that afternoon we drove into Brasstown to the John C. Campbell Folk School to scope out the nature trails there. James had been there before and knew one of the trails led to a big open field where we could play ball with our dog Otis. The Folk School is actually quite large and is laid out over a very large area.  The trail we walked was short but I was confident I could get six miles even if I had to do more than one loop, and the roads within the folk school would be ok to run too.


Sunday morning was quite cool….50s maybe. The humidity was low and it really felt nice.  We headed to the Folk School for my run and Otis’ ball time.  I ran the same loop we had walk the day before, detoured out the the road a bit, and managed to get 2 miles before returning to my starting spot.

On my second loop I got a bit braver. I had seen on the trail map another trail behind the blacksmith shop and decided to check it out. There were lots of signs marking roads and trails so I did a fair amount of exploring. One trail went up the side of a steep hill. I ran up a ways but it seemed to go up forever so I turned around and came back down.

A little further down the road I found a sign for Mill House Trail.  It appeared well marked so I took it. The trail was easy to follow and marked with flagging tape…or so I thought.  It went quite a ways and in places was quite narrow but at no time did I feel as though I was off the trail…until!

I came out of the woods behind a house. At first I thought it was another building on the grounds of the Folk School, but I quickly determined I was in a mountain neighborhood with dirt roads.  I was also out of time, and out of mileage, and needed to make my way back to the car. But, where was the car? Where was I?

I pulled out my phone and opened Google Maps but the cell reception was quite poor. After some time there was enough map resolution that I could make out a bigger road and headed in that direction.  The big road turned out to be Brasstown Road; I was no longer lost, but I wasn’t sure how far back to the car, and there wasn’t much for shoulders along the road.  I decided I should call James and have him pick me up…but no answer. Turns out he didn’t have cell reception.

So down Brasstown Rd. I head.  I chose to walk on the wrong side of the road (with traffic at my back) because there was more shoulder on that side and the bends provided me more visibility. I was able to walk in freshly mowed grass which made for easy walking, but I couldn’t help but notice the viney leaves of three that I was walking through. It turns out the walk back was not too far and James picked up cell reception before I made it to the car. He came for me shortly after I made it back to the folk school grounds.

On a good note, I got my 6 miles. Probably got closer to 7 if you count the lost walking. It was an adventure too. I’m still not sure where I went astray on the trail…but I assure you my route looks nothing like the trail marked in the insert of the map! Overall the trails are really nice and it really was a beautiful and interesting run.  If you go, just watch out for that Mill House Trail…it’s apparently rather tricky.


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