Jonas Ridge Trail is a 1.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Newland, North Carolina that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and birding and is accessible year-round.
Relatively flat 2 mile hike along Jonas Ridge to the Sitting Bear overlook down into Linville Gorge. The flat 2.1 mile RT Jonas Ridge Trail begins in Gingercake Acres and takes you over Gingercake Mountain and ends at the top of Sitting Bear Mountain. This section is relatively flat and easy. Unofficially, you can travel from the end of the trail down a steep slope until you reach the Hawksbill Mountain Trail. The trail has some great views on the cliffs of Sitting Bear Mountain with a campsite uptrail not far from the cliffs with a great view south. You can access this trail from the parking at Gingercake Acres, Halfway Trail, Sitting Bear Mountain Trial, and Hawksbill Mountain Trail. Additional references: http://www.appalachianhighcountrytrails.com/linville_gorge.html http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/null/recarea/?recid=48974&actid=37
DO NOT FOLLOW THE LINK FOR GOOGLE MAPS! I was visiting the area and thought we'd give this trail a try. We used the Google maps link map to get there. We kept driving up this gravel windey steep road and eventually it said we had reached the destination. It was an empty lot. Great view but no trail. After attempting up this narrow steep road in our car which doesn't have 4 wheel drive and possibly causing damage under the vehicle, we were frustrated just wanted to go back. At that point we realized what we needed to go to actually get to the trail but it would have been dusk before to long. Probably a great trail but I would not know. Find directions that do not rely on Google maps!
The Jonas Ridge Trail is actually a 2.4 mile trail. Starts at Gingercake Mountain and ends when it intersects with Hawksbill trail. You can access JRT from Hawksbill trail or from Sitting Bear trail...both trailheads are on Table Rock road. This trail isn't flat...if you continue to follow JRT south past Sitting Bear you'll encounter some very steep sections. It's a great trail and can't wait to get back out there and do some off trail exploring before spring.
This trail was short and sweet! Our 4 year old handled the hike well. The views at the top were fantastic! The trailhead could be marked a little better but overall fairly easy to get to.
While Hawksbill and Table Rock Trails are more rewarding (trailheads off Table Rock Road), Jonas Ridge is a nice relatively flat trail from the highest point and back of Gingercake Acres to a rocky outcropping at the top of Sitting Bear mountain. You can easily do this trail in an hour. You can also make it more demanding by climbing up Sitting Bear from Table Rock Road (alternate trailhead). When you start at the Jonas Ridge trailhead take the left fork about halfway through to go to the top of Sitting Bear. There is also a nice view adjacent to the campsite on the left near the end of the trail. You can descend from the end of the trail and hook up with the Hawksbill trail or just enjoy the additional rock outcroppings lower on the ridge, but the descent is very steep and you'll need to hold on to trees and roots to maneuver.