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Went on a foggy day and didn't have the best view from the top, but the trail was excellent and clearly blazed. First 3/4 mile is steep but it levels off nicely from there with several great vistas along the way to the top. Road leading to the wolf gap recreational parking lot is fully paved and easily driven.

We went on a muggy day and still loved the trail. It was a challenge for the first mile and a half or so. Great workout. We are hoping to go back on a clearer day to get the full experience of the full 360 view!

This was my first hike and I did it solo in four days. If you really want to enjoy this trail, take at least five days to do it. Though I am a beginner, this trail seemed to be a lot more rough than I expected and offered some tough climbs.

Fantastic backpacking loop. Definitely challenging. I went clockwise and hot straight uphill the first day, felt like forever to do 6 miles but I got there mid day. Camped by the watch tower(you need permits to back country camp!!!) and watched the sunrise over the great smoky mountains. Next day was allllll down hill but a much more mild grade. Got to finish it off with a little cliff jumping right near the end-that counts as a shower right?

Very solid and well maintained trail. I'd recommend using Guthook's Guide as well as AllTrails app since you are walking the AT for most of this loop. It'll help with planning your water stops. Finished the trail in 2 days, but I'd recommend 3 if you want to have a more casual time. The shelters and sites are spaced pretty well if you'd rather average 8-9 miles a day.

I headed counter-clockwise down the Kimsey Creek trail first. It was bit overgrown and there were several blowdowns for the first half mile or so, but as long as you are paying attention you shouldn't have any issues. This portion follows and cuts across streams almost constantly so you will have no problem with water. I'd suggest filling up before heading up to Standing Indian mountain though, just in case.

After Carter Gap shelter, it's pretty much smooth sailing until a couple miles before the Long Branch junction. On my trip, there was a massive blowdown fully blocking the trail. I climbed over the tree, but I would 100% recommend that you try to squeeze under it or maybe hike up the mountain a bit to walk around it. It had rained earlier that day and everything was slippery.

If you are heading NOBO, the hike up Albert Mountain is pretty intense. It's half stairs, half rock climbing. There is a bypass you can use which follows a forestry service road for a bit and reconnects on the other side. It took me roughly 30 mins to climb the 0.3 mi from the base to the fire tower. I hiked this part after it rained, and the rocks were pretty slippery. You can always do the bypass then just hike SOBO up to the tower.

great hike going counter clockwise from rt 56. finished the loop in about 8 hrs with stops to eat and enjoy the scenery. very challenging with excellent views. used this as a training hike for a more difficult climb coming up and definitely got my money's worth. my only gripe if i had to find one is the distance signage is a little off. mau hur section is closer to 4 miles than 3 and total rt56 loop is closer to 16 miles.

Hiked the entire loop 2 day/1 night. The trail is longer than marked- my watch estimated about 19 miles rather than 17.5. North Plateau is covered in thorns and seed ticks as a heads up. Water is kind of low right now at all the creeks and spring at the cabin. Good hike just wear long pants for the NP! North Rim is fantastic.

Hiked the North Rim trail to Hobbs cabin and stayed the night this past weekend. Took the plateau trail out. The NR trail needs some serious maintenance. Lots of trees down, brush and thorns on the trail. Got lots of poison ivy.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like the trail mileage is a lot longer than what the signs say. Over all, it’s a good endurance trail with great views.

enjoyed the loop last month starting at rt.56, camping at Maupin. going tomorrow for the loop in opposite direction. Beautiful section of Virginia and enough ups and downs to feel it.

The road leading up to the trail was extremely dangerous to go up ,and I would not recommend taking a car that won't withstand off roading. There are many sharp turns in the weathered gravel road.

Did the hike as a first backpacking trip. It was pretty rough for us, mostly because it stormed and North Fork trail turned into a mudpit and one of my buddies was fighting mono (he was diagnosed later). Was also not aware that you cross small streams about 7 times so change of shoes and lots of dry socks are essential. After climbing out West in the mountains, not too impressed with the scenery mostly because of the lack of wildlife and any overlooks, but definitely some pretty neat, rugged trails.

It was a good hike definately some big climbs, but water was available, well marked, pretty challenging climbing up to the blue ridge parkway, views would have been better without the fog and rain but it was great.

Excellent trail! Definitely difficult and I would not have packed my own water because there are plenty of water spots along the trail if you are camping. Beautiful views and a really awesome camping site at about the halfway mark.

Very confusing

This is a truly amazing hike, short and sweet. Be wary of false a false summit just after the 1st mile or so. The rocks just past the bridge make for an excellent time.

Whew this was maybe the the toughest trail I've ever done. It's dark in that forest. I can imagine Hansel and Gretel sitting there waiting for their parents to come back for them. It rained part of the trip but it was refreshing not annoying. The path is rocky and covered with tree roots. The views up at the parking lot are fantastic. I only did half this trail, I got picked up at the top.

This is a great trail, but very hard to follow. I still have yet to successfully complete the loop, and after trying twice from both directions it’s safe to say that part of the trail is lost. From the south prong trail you can make it all the way along the ridge line, but as soon as you leave the ridge line and turn north the trail runs cold. Don’t attempt the loop, just go out and back, or connect the routes with country road 70. Fantastic campsites along this trail

Wow! Top notch hike! Some good challenges and SPECTACULAR views! We were held up on the trail for about 10 minutes with an encounter of a 4 foot rattlesnake that my wife almost stepped on! Bring water, a snack, and your camera! Amazing views!

It's a good climb with an excellent view.

Managed to finish the loop in 2 days, most of the trail is really easy going. there are camp sites all through out the trail and a great water source before north mountain. I brought extra from reading other peoples reviews but had plenty left when we got back on the AT. there are probably half a dozen camp sites on the north mountain trail and honestly I enjoyed that section more than the AT. Saw no one else on that section of trail and you are just walking this beautiful ridge for miles. wouldn't do the whole thing again but it was a fun over nighter.

Me and my husband did this as a day hike on July 27th and fully expected it to be challenging and long based on the reviews we read here, and it was that! We started at Reeds Gap and went clockwise, leaving Mau Har for the end and were happy with that decision as the scenery of the falls made you forget about all the climbing. My Garmin also came in over 16 miles for this loop but I believe that is because in “hiking” mode the miles keep adding even when you’re standing still, I noticed this when we stopped to eat. Regardless, the entire hike took us just under 8 hours to complete. The scenery was beautiful with a couple of gorgeous lookouts and the wildlife a bit scarce; worms, butterflies, squirrels and a snake. I would definitely recommend this trail to others but probably wouldn’t do it again as I’d prefer to see other sections of the AT.

Did this hike July 13th with great weather for a rigorous hike. I followed the AT Trail up and then looped back down following the Mau-Har Trail. Took me about 9 hours to complete- stopped for breaks to enjoy the scenery frequently at the stunning lookouts this trail has. It’s predominantly canopied, thickly wooded forest- but has a surprising amount of biodiversity on the ground. This loop definitely earns its “hard” rating- long sections of uphill hiking with 4 distinctly difficult 1/4 mile stretches. But the views on top of the ridges makes for a very rewarding experience. Will have to come back soon and do the opposite direction.

I did this trip in July with my 10 year old daughter who was carrying her own pack for the first time. We did it in 2 nights instead just an overnight. The first night we stayed at 37 after a pretty easy day. The second day was much more strenuous, going up hill for 5 miles. But site 38 is worth it. Beautiful views and sunset from the fire tower. The last day was all down hill back to big creek. I'll always have fond memories of the trip.

The trail is well maintained, so expect to do this fairly quickly for a 21 miler. I was cloudy and rainy, so that might have affected my experience, but I felt it was all that great. The best view points are at the begining, doing the whole loop is a bit excessive.

First part was rough but once you get to the ridge line it’s really easy and beautiful.

backpacking
2 months ago

6/30/18-7/1/18 WOW! This was our first backpacking trip. Amazing hike! Loved how the first 5 miles and last 5 miles were along rivers! We loved it...and so did our white German Shepherd pup! Even though the weather called for some storms, it only rained at night while in our tent. It was very cloudy in some areas, but do not be fooled! Those foggy clouds move quickly! What looked to be a cloud covered evening turned into a beautiful sunset and sunrise the next morning! Same up by Tennent Mountain...cloudy but within 5 minutes it cleared! Before I get to my tips and tricks, I just want to say I’d do this exact same route again someday. Loved it and worth it!

Tips:
*download this app so you can track where you are while offline! Not all the trails are clearly marked. We added a couple miles after going the wrong way. And we ended up veering off Mountain To Sea Trail onto the graveyard trail ... which ended up meeting back up with mountain to sea eventually, but that part was very confusing. If you have this app and look at where you are shortly after each fork, you will be fine...we happened not to look early enough on this turn.
(Grab a trail map at the very least! There is a Pisgah National Forest Ranger station you can go to prior to getting to the hiking place...google map it)
*keep phone in airplane mode and bring an extra battery pack and the correct cord hookup for your phone-we took pictures and ran out of battery at the last 5 miles where the pigeon river is so amazing! (Plus Bridges Camp Gap Trail can be tricky)
*Bring hiking poles. Our $20 amazon ones worked great! We are athletic people and couldn’t imagine doing this without poles. So much better on your joints
*bear canisters required-rented one at Pura Vida Adventures Pisgah Forest NC. Keep it in some brush ~100 yards from tent...eat there too
*Want to see black bears? Keep very quiet. Don’t want to see black bears? Clank poles together here and there and sing a song. We saw none (I didn’t want to see any our first trip! But people along the trails did see them. Don’t eat by or in your tent, don’t feed bears, bury your poop, because even if you don’t see a bear, don’t let there be a chance your area attracts bears for the next people. I also carried some bear spray.
*Don’t watch the Netflix movie “Backcountry” before going. ;)

*Start on Shining Creek path and end on Big East Fork. Wouldn’t want to go the other way -easier to climb up fast than the other way around!
*Watch your river-fill up before the ridge (around 4 miles in! Water is scarce till getting past the ridge. On map it looks like you cross the water a few times at the end of Shining Creek but those water sources are much less ... it’s not a true river site.
*we used Sawyer filters off amazon-took 6 normal plastic water bottles plus the 2 pouches that cane with our two sawyer filters. (Keep a couple designated clean bottles and just keep pouring the bottles into the pouches and squeezing them into the clean ones.
*at 6.2 miles you’ll see the Shining Rock Wilderness sign by a meadow. Many camp areas up that way ... some not covered, some up by the woods. There were 5 other couples up that way. Beautiful sunset and sunrise there! We stayed by the trees because we heard the wind and rain can get crazy if rain is called for up there-and it was, but the couple in the meadow were alright.
*we left late but wanted to make it to 8miles...there was another place to camp by there but not a bunch of options like at 6.2miles.
*We went on the wrong trail for about a mile and turned around to go on the correct trail up to black balsam...if you aren’t going up for a while check where you are!
*off the ridge, where Mountain To Sea Trail starts, there was a forest with big White Dots on some trees or rocks helping you keep course.
*Like I said we someone ended up on the graveyard trail which met up with Mountain To Sea so it was ok, but that was very confusing.
*after Mountain To Sea comes Bridges Gap Trail. Our phones died and this trail leads you right down to a large boulder on the river! That must be the Gap ha! You have to walk down the boulder (for us a large tree trunk was sticking out where the trail continued) but you have to walk to the boulder a ways to see where the trail continues (it’s on the same side of the river)
*THEN you ARE ON BIG EAST FORK. We saw no sign that said we were suddenly on Big East Fork! It was a beautiful hike by the Pigeon River! Places to camp and swim here as well.

I think we were somehow at Skinny Dip Falls (not sure) where there were a lot of people swimming. There’s a bridge you cross that us pretty high up..watch your dog.

Hope this helps and does not deter!! It truly is SPECTACULAR!

The first mile was brutal for an out of shape person like me but it smooths out if you push through. This was one of the most breathtaking hikes I’ve ever been on. Just beautiful. Once you get to the footbridge, you’re just about there. I’ll definitely be returning.

Great hike. First day was 10 miles through a beautiful forest. The last half mile is a little rough straight down the mountain to cranberry river. Second day was 12 miles all road walking except the last 2 miles straight up the mountain.

Hiked this trail earlier in the spring. From the parking lot, starts up the road past some camping sites. Just look for the sign. 1st part is a steady uphill climb for about 1 mile then levels off. Nice foot bridge at the end just before the rock outcrop. A bit of scrambling on the rock outcrop. Terrific views at the top. I experienced some traffic on the trail and at the top. Due to the climb, I would hike on a cooler day. Definitely worth doing. Caution, this is an unprotected cliff top view. Hang on to your little hikers.

backpacking
2 months ago

The displayed trail starts at Boone's run, and is about a 3 mile hike in before hitting the loop. There is a campsite right at the intersection of the trails, as well as an AT shelter about 2 miles in. The trail is VERY wet and involves a lot of stream crossings, and overgrown trails. The trail has many variations, one being the AT, another being a light blue blaze that will take you up to Massanutten Ridge. I would recommended starting this hike from
a little further down Cub Run road, where there is an access trail that is only a mile and will take you to the same campsite.

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