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Wildcat Tract - Dawson Forest

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Dawson Forest WMA
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Aug 13 2011  9:30 am >> Sat, Aug 13 2011 6:30 pm  (Carpool Departure: 9:30 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Tue, Aug 9 2011 9:30 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Aug 12 2011 6:00 pm
Event Duration:Hike 5.5 - 6.5 Hours (total w/ drive 8.5 - 9.5 hrs)
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:12 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Laura V
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:12
Minimum Group Size:5
Number Registered So Far: 7 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No

Dawson Forest Wildcat Tract:

Dawson Forest Wildlife Management area is comprised of more than 25,000 acres, ranging from foothills and mountain valleys to high country ridges and river gorges. Two rivers and several major streams meander through the WMA, adding scenic elements to a trail system rich with flora, fauna and unique topography. There are over 40 waterfalls in this WMA and 5 of the largest ones (ranging from 20 to 75 feet) will be visited during the hike.

The hike will be 12 miles long and have a total ascent of nearly 3,000 feet... 1,200 of that occurring in a single 1.5 mile stretch. Four of the five waterfalls we will visit are not along a trail, so visiting these will require about 1.5 miles of "off-trail" hiking - some of it being steep and strenuous. This hike is for people with previous D4/D5 hiking experience and those who do not mind, (preferrably enjoy) some "off- trail" hiking.


We will begin the hike at approximately 11:00 AM on a trail that closely follows a crystal clear, major creek in the forest. This section of the hike is about 1.5 miles, relatively flat, but very beautiful. The trail starts at an elevation of 1,500 feet and is surrounded by hemlocks, rhododendrons, mountain laurel, and many other flora species. Throughout this trail, the creek cascades over small rock ledges and a rocky bottom causing a soothing sound that makes this section of the hike a very beautiful and peaceful experience. We will then venture a short distance down a old road bed to the next trail which will begin our first major ascent of the hike. This trail will include the first of several creek crossings and the last mile will be steep and strenuous, gaining over 1,000 feet of elevation. We will then walk along a ridgeline trail for about a mile reaching an elevation of almost 2,900 feet before heading down the next trail into a valley. On the next trail we will come to the first of the waterfalls, which cascades 75 - 100 ft. At the base of this waterfall we will take a break to have lunch and can wade in the large pool at its base. We will then continue down this trail approximately a mile before we will break off and begin our "off-trail" trek. In this next section we will be off-trail for 1-2 miles, so that we can visit more waterfalls along the way. During this section we will have some bushwhacking, some steep up and down terrain, a few creek crossings, but we will be rewarded by 4 more waterfalls ranging from 25 to 45 feet in height. I expect this portion of the hike to take about 1.5 hours, including brief stops at the waterfalls. After the last waterfall, we will find a "quasi trail" which will eventually lead us back to the trail on which we began the hike. The hike will finish with a nice 1.5 mile "warm-down" hike along the beautiful Wildcat creek until we reach the endpoint.

During the hike, there will be several stream crossings and some of these crossings will require either walking/balancing across fallen trees, or taking off your shoes/boots and socks to cross. The water is clear, less than knee deep, but above the level of hiking shoes or boots. I do not enjoy walking many miles with water-logged shoes and socks, so on a few of the crossings I will take the few minutes required to allow us to take off our shoes/ socks, dry our feet on the other side (please bring a hand towel), and continue on. If you enjoy hiking with soaked boots, then feel free to do so. I expect the entire hike to take approximately 6 hours to complete, so we should be back at the vehicles around 5:00 PM.

It is optional, but I plan to stop at a relatively nice, new, Mexican restaurant located about 5 miles from the hike location. I'm sure that most of us will be quite hungry after we have completed this 12 mile hike!   If you are carpooling, I would recommend discussing your plans to eat, or not eat, with your carpool buddies.

The following is a link to photos from the previous Wildcat hike if you wish to view them:

Required Items to Bring:
  • Good hiking shoes or boots.
  • Plenty of water/sports drink - 2.5 - 3 liters. (Anyone with less than 2 liters will not be allowed to hike with the group)
  • A hand towel to dry your feet if, or when, we have to remove shoes to ford a creek.
  • Lunch/Snacks - We will be hiking for at least 5-6 hours, so bring what's appropriate for you on a hike of this length.
Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles, if you like them
  • An extra pair of socks
  • Change of clothes
  • Bug repellent

Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:Please contact the Trip Leader(s) if there is a reason you can not meet at the carpool.
Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):104Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 9:30 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $41.60 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.
*Note: Please review our cancellation policy carefully.