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This is such a unique hike! You get good views of Lake James early on and they don’t stop as you reach the top and beyond. Lots of ledges to look out on and plenty of great camping spots along the way and at the top. Not a big time commitment either - Really loved this hike.

When combined with the Indian Creek Trail this makes for a decent hike. The waterfalls aren't that large but they're pretty. Indian Creek Trail has several water crossings.

Amazing views! A religious experience and I’m an atheist.

I have seen other places and talked to other hikers who have rated the loop trail as strenuous. It definitely is exhausting if you walk up the steep side from the lower trailhead parking area. The views are amazing and well worth the effort. If you can go up the steep side do it. I'd rather have the long gentle slope going back down than try to negotiate down the steep steps.

Absolutely so beautiful. A huge gorgeous water fall, beautiful view of the side of Stone Mountain and beautiful nature trials in between.

backpacking
8 days ago

The access road *is* accessible in a sedan. I managed to get a Charger up it, in the rain, with minimal fuss. Just be mindful of the blind corners, as most of the road is only wide enough for one vehicle.

PLENTY of water available from top to bottom this week. Just listen for water (and/or use your topo!) and you’ll find’em.

This is definitely a difficult hike when fully kitted out. I noticed the majority of people were carrying small day packs. Once you hit the switchbacks, you’re committed. The trail is well marked and clear, but definitely sketchy in a few areas and rather strenuous on the way up (and down!). Summer heat/humidity plus thunderstorms made for an interesting (and tedious) ascent.

Definitely doing this one again. I set up camp in a clearing just past the Gully Pipe, my hammock just a few feet from a cliff overlooking the Gorge. Absolutely stunning views at sunset, the sounds of the river almost 1,000 feet below and a gentle breeze made for an incredible site.

All said, an amazing trail and definitely worth doing. Just remember to do your part and LNT while visiting.

The first 1.4 miles is mostly an uphill, rocky climb to the summit. After that, the trail flattens out, but it becomes more overgrown and quite narrow. There are several rock outcroppings after about the 1-mile mark with amazing views of the Gorge and Lake James. There's almost no shading on the trail, so hike early and bring a lot of water, especially in the summer. I hiked after a lot of rain, and there was also quite a bit of water on the trail. Overall, this is a great trail with fantastic views as you climb higher.

Good endurance hike. I liked it because it wasn't too close to any big touristy areas resulting in a decreased number of yuppies.

I’d rate moderate as well, not as nice as the lower cascades is but glad we did it.

Great trail with spectacular views. I think this should be marked as strenuous. Definitely recommend taking the summit direction first, not the waterfall first like I did. It was so easy the first 2 miles by the falls then I got to the summit and nearly couldn't make it up. So worth it though!

hiking
16 days ago

1 mile round trip moderate hike with beautiful sites along the way, from views to flowers, and natural beauty everywhere you turn. What an incredible view from the top too, and the scents of flowers fills the air.

Amazing waterfall, quick & easy to get to from visitor center. Continued on the loop, the summit was AMAZING, so beautiful, so many places to sit & chill on the side of the stone mtn. Worth the hour & a half ride to get there. The trail was shady, breezy, & not too terrible

My review is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer

I hiked the portion of the hike from the Doughton Park parking lot to Bluff Mountain. This review covers just that portion of the trail

From the parking lot the trail to the picnic area is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail There are about 2-3 nice areas with views of distant mountains, fields and rugged rocks.

From the picnic area you have a nice sunset view looking west to the distant mountains. An even better view is to hike the Bluff Mt trail toward the shelter. But turn right at the junction instead of left and take trail to Bluff Mt. About 200 yards past the junction along the trail you’ll find open space with an excellent view to the west. A 28-135mm lens will work great.

The first 30-45 minutes of this one was a good workout. The scenery was awesome. I’d like to go back and do this one for time. It’s a good challenge but the views are worth it.

beautiful trail would go again

hiking
20 days ago

On July 13, 2018 ( a humid day) my family undertook to hike this trail while we visited the area from Missouri. Despite hesitations from my wife and the relative young age of our boys (9 and 7) I remained strong in my conviction to see this place on earth as I have heard it is beautiful. It was as stated by the reviews rugged and steep. To reach the top was work. This was offset by wild blue berry eating along the way. It was all worth it. The view from the top is spectacular. There is a nice view up the gorge and of a few of the distinct area peaks not to mention the scenery is generally great. By the time we were descending the last half mile we were out of water and the troops were decidedly weary. Still this was one of our best family hikes.

hiking
20 days ago

My rating is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer.

Don’t bother with this trail if you are looking for scenic Mountain views. There aren’t any. The summit is completely closed in by forest. There are some views at the start of the trail but they are the same as Wildcat Rocks overlook.

Instead of doing this trail take the 1/2 mile hike at the Doughton picnic area.

My review is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer

This is an above average sunrise location along the BRP. The “hike” from the parking lot to the viewpoint is about 100 yards Anyone can do it unless you can’t negotiate stone steps.

There are some rocks that can be used for foreground interest but only if you are using a wide angle lens. The mountains are rather distant and I used a 28-135mm lens on a C-size sensor to highlight the mountains.

There are better sunrise landscape locations along the BRP but given the ease of getting to the viewpoint this would be a good choice for those with either limited mobility, young children or limited time.

hiking
20 days ago

This was a pretty easy trail to get to the top. We were up and back down to the parking lot in an hour, with a few stops to enjoy the view.

I didn't die

Has a nice visitors center w/ a gift shop. Life size Lincoln logs area. Several picnic areas around the hike. Steep climb but has sturdy steps & structures to get you to the top of the waterfall

Coming back up can be quite steep. It’s an easy to moderate hike depending on experience, but the access to windows fall is easy to it form hidden falls. Window Falls has another smaller fall further up, but it’s a much steeper incline if you climb from the base to the side. Or you can also try climbing the rocks near the steps, but I wouldn’t recommend that if you’re just wearing regular shoes like I saw some people do.

hiking
25 days ago

Beautiful fern trail. Steep at points. Good vistas. Went in mid-July. Saw some native clematis and some kind of beautiful orange lily (?)

Fun hike. The waterfall portion gets a little crowded, but views are amazing. Did not run into anybody on the HQ portion.

Started at the old parking lot went straight up the mountain 1/2 way up thought I was going to die I've never seen so many steps. After getting to the top it was all well worth it glad I did it

Great trail also went camping here a few years ago it was snowy and windy got down to -20° But I loved the experience. Trail is beautiful and scenic and strenuous but was well worth it. also be carful near the summit there is alot of slippery rock I almost slid off myself. keep a good footing and stay safe!

Amazing trail ! was very nicely maintained and beautiful.. can't wait to talk this trail again.

Very hard hike and the waterfall wasn’t amazing to me. But it was probably just because the time I went.

Killer hike. Hiked a 10 miler (round trip) along the east side of the Gorge. Went an extra 2 miles after I reached the Shortoff Summit. Probably got close to 1,400 feet in elevation gain, so I was at about 3,100 feet. A lot of views south of Lake James on the way up. The views to the north and to the west were the gifts that kept on giving once the trail flattened out. Sick views of Table Rock Mtn and below into the Gorge. Grandfather Mtn was in the back behind Table Rock, and Mt Mitchell was in the distance behind the west ridgeline.

Attempt number one to summit.... I’ll be back tomorrow.

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