Hinkle Branch Trail to Holston Mountain Low Gap is a 10 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Elizabethton, TN that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as difficult and primarily used for hiking, camping, horses, and mountain biking. Horses are also able to use this trail.
Hinkle Branch Trail Head serves as an entry point to the Holston Mountain Trail System. Take the trailhead to Low Gap Trail for a strenuous uphill hike more than 4 miles up 2000 feet to Low Gap Campground. The trail head is gated at the beginning of a forest service road. There is a Cherokee Forest welcome sign with trail system instructions, a map and the standard and cautionary warnings. Within a half mile you will pass Taylor Ridge Trail #2025 on the right before approaching another gate with Hinkle Branch Road designated with yellow blazes. On the next intersection signs for Rye Patch Trail # 2023 will be on the left but continue right on the forest service road. Low Gap Trail # 2024 will be a right turn after about 3 miles. Take this to the campsite another mile or so. A left turn on Panhandle Road will take you to Holston High Point. Going right eventually leads to the Fire Tower.
This was a very strenuous hike almost all uphill with very little relief on the way up. It was quite rocky and and I only passed 4 horseback riders. I would guessed the cyclist whose truck was in the parking area took Taylor Ridge trail as I couldn't imagine a mountain bike on half of the trail I walked. There are very great views up and down the mountains where the power lines ascend the mountain. You will pass the power lines 4 times on the way up. There are also 2 creek crossings but they barely had running water. I spent the entire time looking to make sure I didn't step in horse dung and I didn't see any boot marks or bike tracks. Once I made it to Low Gap I took the Panhandle Road all the way to the towers.