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

Benton McKaye Trail Map

The trail is a short enchanting hike with a beautiful 65 ft waterfall.

Absolutely beautiful trail!

As others mentioned, the trail head is not clearly marked. Follow the directions and you will see a marker on the right side of the road however the trail starts on the left side and is not marked. It’s a narrow trail that goes up the mountain. We parked the car a little ways up the road on a road to the left. We parked it in a way that allowed others to drive through if they wished. We then walked up the road to the trail.

We completed a 6.5 miles because we did not turn back after we reached the end. We continued until the trail forked per the map which led us to a road that happened to be the same one we parked on. We hiked back down 2.5 miles to the car.

This hike is not for a new hiker or for kids even if only doing the 4 mile hike. It’s quite steep in some areas, slippery leaves. We took the dogs but kept them on a tight leash on the narrow path up in the beginning.

It took us 3 hours 43 min to complete the 6.5 mile.

Everything about this hike was perfect. The drive to get there is a little longer but beautiful. We had no trouble approaching from Doublehead Gap, then the dirt service road to the trail, which we found to be well maintained. Beautiful hike with ample stream crossings and change of scenery as you cross over the ridge. We had enough energy to also hike to Long Creek Falls afterwards which added another two miles to our adventure. The falls are beautiful and worth the effort. A full and satisfying day.


beautiful trail for a short hiking

Owen’s lookout had the best views, but we got stung by bees, so just be careful.

Perfect trail and distance!

This is a great trail. We started from the Springer Mountain parking lot instead of 3 Forks because of the road conditions at 3 Forks. I would recommend going to Long Creek falls when doing this section, it's only a mile past 3 Forks and well worth it. Have fun.

Started this trail from the Cooper's Gap side. Please be aware the Cooper's Gap dirt road that leads to Three Forks is extremely bumpy and rough. GPS and map didn't show that so it was unexpected. We were on it for 45 mins in a subaru so we felt it all and the car was struggling at a certain point. Highly encourage to either use an suv or jeep if not try to access from the other dirt road which is only about 9 miles and in better conditions. Three Forks was a well kept trail with an elevation gain of 1,173 feet up to Springer Mountain's Summit. Once you pass the Springer Mountain parking lot get ready for an uphill rocky trail hike. Overall beautiful and moderate hike. It was my first time backpacking so I struggled in the rocky section.

This is a good day hike that just about anyone can do. Owens lookout was pretty impressive. I would recommend going all the way to the Springer summit. It's less than half a mile.

It was a short hike from the parking area to the suspension bridge. Once there it was very scenic with lots of open forest with a fire ring or two. It was easy access to the Taccoa River where dogs can get a drink and swim. After crossing the bridge we the hiked up to the mountain top. There are no views up there but it was a nice work out with beautiful summer foliage.

3 months ago

I recommend taking a short detour off this loop to the AT terminus at top of the mountain. Fun photo op at the AT marker, can sign the log [composition book], and enjoy a nice overlook. Tip: Some of the forest service dirt roads are for high clearance vehicles only. Check out their maps to choose the best access for you. Even some of the roads marked for passenger vehicles might not be suitable for sedans that are low to the ground - due to potholes. https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/conf/maps-pubs

This was a great day hike. We accessed the trail from the Springer Mountain parking lot for the Appalachian Trail, south of the loop, and hiked up the AT to the junction of the AT and the Benton Mackaye Trails. The drive up to the lot took a while, but the road was well-maintained and no problem for a little Hyundai.
The trails are clearly marked - white rectangles for the AT and white diamonds for the BMT. There is enough elevation and stream crossings via rocks or bridges to give you a work out, but nothing super steep or difficult to travel. There are a few spots where a trail turn could be missed, but as long as you are watching the trail markings (or using GPS) you shouldn't have any trouble.
There is a variety of foliage as you cross through different "zones;" lots of amazing colorful mushrooms and a good mix of challenging vs. level trail. We only saw one other group of people during our hike, and a lot of the trial was incredibly quiet, unless you were by the creek.
Overall, a beautiful moderately challenging hike. We all decided we would do it again.

Great day hike. Trail head is way way back. Could be hard to get to without a 4x4. Poorly marked so we somehow doubled back on ourselves as opposed to completing the entire loop. That said it was a nice hike that crisscrossed the water. Good mix of climbs and descents.

nice moderate trail that gets you on two big ones, the AT and the BMT. we hiked on a Friday and only saw a few people and that was when we were getting close to the parking lot. We ate our lunch at Owen's overlook which is about halfway. This was our second time on the trail, last year we hiked it clockwise and this year we went the other way:)

This trail is a must do. You get to see the first blaze on the AT with a incredible view on top of Springer mountain and then you'll follow a incredible creek with mutable waterfalls .

Trekked East from the Appalachian Highway 76 in Cherry Log on section seven. Very easy walk starting out with gravel roads. Talked to some nice folks while hiking!

I turned my recording on and off as we stopped. I forgot to restart at an overlook and missed 1/2 of the hike. I will leave the recording on from now on.
We took the most difficult road to get to the start. Scary! We drove home Doublehead Gap Rd to 52.
Much better!
The trail was well marked, moderately easy and so beautiful at the end of April. Few hikers were in the trail. 3 stream crossings on Benton Mackaye trail. A good day.

Nice hike with limited views. Road in kinda sucked.

Great hike with great views. Trail was a little hard to see in places but well worth it!

We had a wonderful time! The drive to the trail head was adventurous...lots of potholes! We had a nine year old and an eighty two year old in our group so it took one hour and forty minutes up and a little over an hour down, we did not do the summit. Up we followed the white rectangle ( Appalachian Trail ) and on the way back followed the white diamond of the Benton Mackaye Trail. Only saw a few fellow hikers, it’s December after all!

Friday, November 17, 2017

We ended up doing a 5.5 mile loop that roughly followed this loop. Nice afternoon hike. Interesting drive, via UFS roads to get to parking lot.

Nice hike. Three Forks is not really marked. This hike you start up the AT to Springer Mtn. And after about 2.2 miles you switch and comeback on the Benton MacKay trail. You can continue on at the intersection of the AT/BM trails and go to Springer. It is about 1.9 miles from there so this adds 3.8 to the hike. Make sure drive in on DoubleGap. I went out the other way and my Honda Civic was not happy but we survived.

Trail was well blazed, not heavily traveled, overgrown in places, no views in summer, no creeks or water sources. We followed the directions listed and ended up on Bushyhead Rd. The BMT actually is that road but we wanted to start where the trail leaves the gravel road on the left. There was no parking to be found. We backtracked down the road about a quarter of a mile or so and pulled off then walked back up. The trail was unremarkable. It basically climbed for two miles through laurel and light woods then descended. Nothing to see but we got a good workout.

Great day hike area. Good for camping too.

Been thru here once before doing 20 mile section of BMT. Easter weekend, took a friend to do her 1st hike in 40 yrs. (we're both mid 60....ish). She was breaking in a new Deuter, I just daypacked. Drove her Corolla up there...lol.
Easy day, lots of people, gorgeous weather.
I did notice signs at this trailhead saying, "No camping behind signs". Does anyone know if that means you can no longer camp at the sites by the footbridge?

The trailhead is not marked very well. We walked up the road but realized we we're not on the trail. I think the trail starts on the main road but I'm still not sure.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

We started on the Cherohala Skyway and headed north, completing 6 miles in and heading back out. Plenty of parking and the trail is well maintained and well marked.

Pretty easy, well demarcated trail. A bit slippery with all of the leaves.

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