Explore Asheville - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Asheville Map
VIEW FULL MAP

A tough but enjoyable trail. A lot of steep steps. Trail is well maintained.

hiking
22 hours ago

There are two ways to get to Big Butt: a stiff steep hike from NC 197 at Cane Gap or a longer ridge and multi peak climb from the Walker Knob Overlook on the BRP about 5 miles south of the Mount Mitchell State park entrance (NC 128). I took the latter route which longer, but ultimately more rewarding as you climb Brush Fence Ridge, and up and over Point Misery and Little Butt before arriving at the side trail to the summit of Big Butt.

These peaks form the western rim of the Black Mountain and lie thousands of feet above the Cane River Gorge that can be head roaring below when you get to Little Butt. The forest resembles the Mount Mitchell Trail flora and fauna, event though the elevations do not exceed 6000 feet. The trail is well maintained by the the NC High Peaks Trail Association and included hundreds of wooden step that make the climbs much easier to maneuver. The best views lie on the ridge between Little Butt and Big Butt. Unfortunately clouds rolled in when I hiked this track and so was only able to catch short glimpses of the valley to the east (and not the Black Mountain Crest). Hiking this route in early spring or late fall should give you a better chance of good weather and less foliage blocking vistas.

From the Walker Knob Overlook, take the trailhead to the SOUTH. **Be careful here as an old forest road and the Mountains to Sea also converge in the field behind the overlook parking lot. You will descend over a hundred feet before gently ascending to the top of Brush Fence Ridge and finally to the summit of Point Misery (the name was not indicative of this side of the mountain - the return trip up the backside will give you an appreciation of why it is appropriately named). The HP is just off the trail and there is a Geodetic Marker as well as several marked bearing trees nearby.

From there, descend steeply over 300 feet to a grassy gap and then ascend up a series of stairs around giant rocks to the inauspicious peak of Little Butt Mountain. The trail continues a very narrow ridge reminiscent of the Amphibuolite Mountains. Look for rock outcrops to the right and left of the trail for some tremendous views of the Black Mountains (east) and the Craggy Mountains (west).

Continue along the ridge ascending gently to a well marked side trail to the left that will take you via an interesting semi-open trail to the summit of Big Butt. No ascertainable views here, but I accidentally surprised a nide of about 30 pheasants. The tremendous fluttering and so much wing flapping and feathers flying gave a feeling of both being on the the set of THE BIRDS and of marveling at the sight of these beautiful creatures. Then the rain started. It continued off and on on the hike back and was so intense at times that I felt more like this was the Amazon rain forest, not western NC. And yet, once I got wet, it was pleasant. Only real obstacle was the relentless climb back up to Point Misery.

Of course once I got back to the car, the rain stopped and the sun came out! For completists, cross the road and hike to the crest of Walker Knob on the M-to-S trail (see separate entry for more detail on this peak and others described above).

Was a great and wonderful trail. Must be prepared, the hike is fairly easy to arch rock. Then to the bluffs, it get a little tougher but well worth it. If you plan on going to the top it get very tough we made it in 4 hrs but took well over 400 pics lol, well worth any pain or soreness you may have later.

Great workout and beautiful views! Highly recommended!!

This trail is steep, but very well maintained and Rainbow Falls was a great reward for my 11, 10, and 8 year old hiking companions.

Challenging but rewarding hike!

I have previously hiked other trails up LeConte and was happy to see a change of scenery on this trail. The different rock features were interesting and the Bluff was neat. I started out early so I was able to easily find parking and avoided the crowds.

hiking
2 days ago

Good hike to beautiful views of the falls and mountains. Well worth the time.

Love love loved it! Last hike we did before we leave for home. Glad we waited to do it last. Was not difficult at all.

Great hike and decent workout. The only bad thing i would say is that parking at Jones Gap sucks. Make sure you get there early or you will be waiting a long time for a parking spot.

Challenging trail but, the views are amazing.

This should not be rated hard. Sure there are rocks and some roots on the trail but it’s not a sidewalk. I consider a hard trail one that requires all fours to go up and over, or at least some scrambles and that’s what I was expecting from these reviews. Didn’t happen. This was a moderate trail with a lot of switch backs that make it long but at no point was it a hard trail. I made it up and back in exactly 4.5 hours and that included all stops and my big 15 minutes at the summit to take in the views. I’ve never done a 10+ mile trail rated hard in that time. Anyway, fun hike with a lot of terrain changes (clay, dirt, sand) the switchbacks were annoying but you could see why they were needed. There was just no other way up the mountain. Tower at the top is kind of cool.

hiking
4 days ago

A great hike, the stairs through the rock makes the hiking interesting. At the top of alum Cave, the view was ok, but the cave is magnificent. My 5 year old enjoyed it.

My favorite hike ever!! We started the hike at about 7:15am so there were only a few other people along the trail so early. Inspiration point at about 2 miles is beautiful! Alum cave was pretty neat too. Above there is where the hike really gets interesting to me. Such amazing views and some of the cliffs you are on just make it a great experience. A long hike but worth the effort. We went to the lodge and Cliff Top. I am so glad we did the spur to Cliff Top, the views were stunning!! Felt like we were on top of the world! Took us roughly 6 hours start to finnish. One piece of advice, bring food, we did not and were starving for the last few miles. The Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg was the best $40 I ever spent afterwards.

Awesome trail, little traffic and awesome views at the top.

I did this hike today and it was very nice. The view is so beautiful at the end! The hike isn’t too strenuous and I would rate it moderate to hard at the very end. Be careful with yellow jackets (there was a nest), I got stung and ended up with a severe allergic reaction and a rescue team had to come get me. So if you’re allergic, take your pen/meds with you!

Amazing views well worth the trek up the mountain side, the hike will take your whole day. One of my favorite places in the smokies for sure.

hiking
5 days ago

Absolutely fabulous hike! Not really difficult, but can be a little muddy and slippery at parts. I highly suggest going all the way to the turtleback waterfall. Also, try going on the rocks (dry ones) that are a little bit off-path to get really good shots. We were warned about copperheads, but did not encounter any.

This was one of the most beautiful hikes to date.. I highly recommend it but be ready, We did it in 4 hrs but well worth it!!!

First thing to note is that this is a different trail than looking glass falls which several people seemed confused about. The only water fall is a very small one near the start. The trail is not steep but the 3 miles out is entirely uphill. The view at the top is definitely worth it though!

AWESOME TRAIL! The Alum Cave makes a great, scenic half-way point to sit and rest or eat. The second half is way more strenuous, but SO MUCH FUN! Even though it was foggy at the top, the lodge was a joy and the hot chocolate was pleasant. Looking forward to doing this one again.

This was a nice hike! Overall, it wasn't as hard as we thought it would be, but it was definitely challenging. It had rained a lot the night before we hiked and the trail was extremely muddy and wet, with water running down the trail in a stream at some points. I think we could have done it a bit faster if not for that. The trail surface is definitely rocky and rooty, and I would highly highly advise hiking boots. We started at 6:45am, summited at 10:30am, left the top at 11am, and finished around 2pm. It was cloudy at the top with pretty much no views, oh well. More about the journey for this one. We were the first hikers of the day to summit and encountered about 30 people on the way back down, about half of which were backpacking and half of which were day hiking. Other notes: it's definitely longer than 10.4 miles if you start at the parking lot and end at the top of the observation tower. By our estimates/GPSes, over 11 miles. Also, there are a few switchbacks on the trail that you could miss if you weren't paying attention. We encountered a group of people who were lost on a false trail and we almost went down the wrong one once.

Lovely views, lovely hike. The climb is never steep, just steady and moderate. We hiked up for sunset and soaked in our first Eastern sights of the Milky Way along with a hand-full of meteors from the Perseid shower. Other than a few passers-by, we had the place to ourselves.

This was our second time taking this trail up to the lodge. Beautiful trail and the views at the top are amazing. Unfortunately on this trip at the top the fog and clouds were socked in. Still worth the journey up there.

This trail was beautiful! We hiked to the bluffs and the view there was fantastic! The scenery, bridges, arch and so much more made this trail very interesting. Something different at every turn. Will do this one again.

Fantastic views, worth the climb. Starts off flat, becomes very rocky and steep with lots of roots. Loved it!!!

Great workout. Not a scenic “hike”.

Did this rocky hike with the best friend and pup! Spray yourself with bug spray prior. The trail was lined with the river/creek for most of the way up, and there were multiple bridges that were great for the views. 10/10 would recommend!! It took us about 3 hours and 15 mins but we hung out at the waterfall for an hour.

Amazing hike. Nice seeing the different types of plants as the elevation changes. Leconte is awesome! We saw a large black bear driving there early in the morning as well. it poured half the trip but it was still 100% worth it.

Load More