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

Mills River Area Map
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hiking
18 days ago

Nice hike, my GPS recorded it as 8.26 miles from the trail head. Yes you Ford the river a lot, and the crossings are close together at times. Wear shoes that drain and dry quickly, forget about wearing socks unless you are willing to take them off and put them on 22 times or just wear them wet for 8 miles. Several crossings were calf deep, many were just over knee deep and one was panty deep (suddenly) but the cool down was welcomed at that point. Ps I am 6’2” tall with lots of legs, shorter people beware.

Hiked today. First third fairly rigorous. Uphill most of the way. Views would be nice in the fall/winter. Second two thirds very lush. Downhill most of the way and runs beside the river so, plenty of water for the dogs. If you have any.

Half the trail is pea gravel. The other half is over rocks and stumps. It’s intense. Good ride.

nice hike. no good views. went right to start up trace ridge finished on fletcher creek and reservoir road to get 8.5 miles. not to difficult but rough and rocky

The area is nice for mountain biking. There’s quite a network of trails, some harder than others. Good for a day of riding when DuPont is not an option.

Great trail for mountain biking! (And, there is heavy bike traffic.) I was walking and trail running. Parts of this trail are on a gravel road. Look at photos so you know what you're getting into. No mountain views. Wooded forest area. What I found most cool is that this trail goes through the Bent Experimental Forest (Pisgah National Forest), and there were interpretive signs explaining various types of forest management: single tree selection, group selection, clear cut, etc. If you are interested in forest management practices, definitely check this network of trails out. The loop I did (see recorded) provided a 4.2 mile walk. In retrospect, the descent at the end was fairly hard (on my knees!), and I wouldn't choose to do it that way again. I should have consulted the topography better before selecting the route.

nice hike. got off on some paths that ended up not being part of the trail. ended up making my hike more like 7 miles. a couple down trees on the trail. but easy enough to get over.

trail running
1 month ago

Nice trail if u want to run and hike. Too difficult to run the entire trail. Great if ur in this mood.

The trail through dense woods, did not provide many scenic views, and is mostly used by mountain bikers. The bike traffic made for hiking uncomfortable at times and I expected more views of the surrounding hills.

Very easy hike, takes less than an hour & a half to complete. Best to park at the visitor center and use Exercise Trail. Nice raised walkway and cool suspension bridge. Trail follows alongside the river and campground where there’s a nice swimming spot. Dog and bike friendly.

This trail takes you through a beautiful forest. It is easy, quiet, and lovely.

hiking
2 months ago

This is a go-to when I want to take my pooch for a hike near where we live.

I’ve been three times, and there’s been very little traffic any time. Nothing much as far as views (at least in the section from Arboretum to intersection at Blue Ridge Parkway). But if you like an uncrowded hike where you can let your dog off leash, this is very solid.

See also: Coffee Pot Mountain Loop Trail for more reviews and recordings. The name of this trail in particular makes more sense, since it actually uses the trail names in the title. You are indeed walking around the base of coffee pot mountain though on the second half. Note that when facing the sign in the parking area with the enlarged maps and info, the trail head will be behind you. The trail head to the left of the sign (if you're looking at it) is also named Trace Ridge, but it takes you into a totally different area to the south, intersecting with Wash Creek Trail.
There are two paths for the Coffee Pot Mountain Loop: The way in, and the way out. The gravel road with the barrier gate will be the way you'll come out at the end, which is to the left if facing both paths. Take the path to the right that appears to go uphill. That's the way in for this particular route, unless you'd like to take it backwards of course.
The first 1/3 of the hike has all the incline, as shown on the elevation map. There are short spurts of technical, rocky, narrow areas that bring you up along Trace Ridge north toward the Blue Ridge Parkway. Note that I'm not an athlete, but have been getting in shape for hikes and the incline portion of this trail was a great workout. There were awesome level terrain zones to give breaks and breathers between the incline zones, which is why the trail is rated as moderate. Keep your shoes tight, because the rocks and terrain are loose in some spots. The trail in general on this northern trek is quite narrow indeed, surrounded by mountain laurel, and there were lots of spider webs (carry a stick and wave it in front lol).
The sign at the northern end that splits toward the Blue Ridge Parkway was clearly marked. We didn't go that route, but easy enough to navigate if you want to add a view to your hike. You can hear the parkway traffic in this area and as you head back south into the next part of the loop. This is where the route changes to Spencer Gap with yellow blazes. Traffic fades as you go down by the water. The descent as you head south is quite gradual and very enjoyable. Do not take the red blazes or the blue blazes unless you want to change up the route. Look at the map before you go and take one with you, because there are quite a few intersections. One intersection in particular was confusing when it came to a gravel road. Look across the road, and slightly to the right, the trail continues on south with yellow markings and a sign with Spencer on it (might say Spencer Gap or Spencer Branch).
There were many many water crossings, and after the first one I saw I walked barefoot for a few miles. Some crossings were definitely too deep for shoes or boots. I'll bring water shoes next time for sure. It was so great to cool off in the creek on a hot day. Made the hike so rewarding!
Anyway I know this was a long review, but I hope it helps someone. Walking along the creek was my favorite part of the trail, since it was filled with wonderful smells and sounds with refreshing breaks. :D

camping
3 months ago

DO NOT ATTEMPT WITHOUT A HIGH CLEARANCE VEHICLE

Trail was covered in horse scat and flies plus the trail was heavily trafficked but... it was a beautiful place and we really enjoyed the beautiful south fork mills river.

The first 2.5 miles are extremely strenuous with nearly straight uphill portions then downhill. You can cut over on wagon gap trail then come down south mills river trail to make the second half of the hike very easy. Low traffic though we did run into a horse drawn wagon on the way back!

If you staying at the campground and just start walking around to visit the Ranger Station or see the Church, all you have to do is walk/bike the front of the northslope and you will finish it all. Didn't realize that I had completed it all in couple of walkabouts while staying there. Nice walk, take the dog or bike see lots of others just doing the same.

Relaxing hike close to Asheville NC. The hike up is moderately challenging with a few views from the woods. The trip down is mostly along an old fire access road with nicer views, but is quite easy and a bit boring.

Really liked this one. Very pretty. Trails were super well-maintained. Markers say “more difficult” but it’s really not bad at all

hiking
7 months ago

easy 2hr hike. good att cell service :). makes for a nice running trail, mostly groomed.

Not many hikers and only a few hikers. Very easy hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Have hiked sections of the trail at different tomes of the year. It is especially beautiful during the fall.

hiking
8 months ago

The Shut-In Trail is actually about 17 miles long. It runs from the trail head shown on the map near the Arboretum by Bent Creek to the Mt. Pisgah parking lot. Today we did an out and back starting at the Mt. Pisgah end going about 5 miles before returning. We had over 2,500 feet of elevation change just in this section. It definitely has some steep and rocky parts but is a great hike. There are great views this time of year without the leaves on the trees and not as much traffic as earlier in the year. If you are looking for a heart pumper this is a good choice.

hiking
8 months ago

tough hike but a great one..we live here and love going on this hike with our trail hound!

mountain biking
9 months ago

Excellent little trail with a variety of alternative trails that connect to this one. Most of these trails allow mountain biking so if you are planning to hike this area be ready to deal with the bikers. I did notice a couple of the trails are dedicated to hiking only, this is not one.

Beautiful trails up to Ingles field. This was and will be a repeat Trail for me.

9 months ago

Nice trail. GPS didn't take us to trail head so took some time to find. Only 400 yards away but once we found it the trail was fun.

hiking
9 months ago

Pretty much a straight up the mountain kind of trail. To get to the head of the trail you need to drive down a dirt road for like 4 miles. The view was blocked by trees when we got to pilot rock. Trail could use some maintenance.

hiking
10 months ago

Great moderate hike. Elevation is mild. Lots of the trails were wide and easy to walk on. Bikers use the trail but sharing safely was not a problem. Took 2.5 hours to do 6 miles. Lovely walk through the woods/forest.

Very few people, which is great. But nothing to make this trail too interesting- majority of the trail was a gravel road.

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