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I love walking along a river and get excited over even the smallest water falls so this hike was absolutely amazing! We saw a lot of ice formations along the way but once we got up to Laurel Falls it was just breathtaking between the falls and The artistry of ice formations. I'm anxious to go back again during the various seasons.

Hiked yesterday as cold front was whipping in. Snow on the fire road was about 3” deep and it made it a little sluggish after the climb. Ascent was beautiful but trickier than my many others due to ice. Glad I had my hiking poles. Note to newcomers —park straight in, aligned with road. Lately a lot of early arrivals parking perpendicular to entrance taking up two spots. It fills up quick and road in does not accommodate more than 5 cars

we started at high knob tower at about 8:30 on Saturday morning. Carrying a backpack, we hiked to Bart Camp Lake and camped for the night. Sundays hike was real easy. I woyld definately do it again

Love this trail! Have done both ascend and descend. Prefer the ascend. Trail is covered in snow (roughly 12”) but pretty packed down along the traveled trail.

hiking
4 days ago

Great trail in great shape. One of my favorite hikes. I will say this it is straight up. 46 degrees at the parking lot and ice and snow in spots near the end of the trail. If you aren’t in at least average shape you should avoid this hike.

My favorite hike in the Smokies.

Had an amazing time hiking Old Rag. Did it with a group and the trip up and down totaled about 9 hours. Steady incline throughout until the last mile or so and you really being rock climbing. It was quite exhilarating sliding between boulders to get to the next part of the trail. The views at the top were like no other. I love Old Rag and look forward to going back soon!

Pretty intense in the snow

Hard but worth every step‼️Absolutely beautiful❤️

hiking
9 days ago

Amazing reward at the end of the hike.

Went in November 2018. Right after a decent snow. About halfway up it was all snow and ice. Massive ice icicles were falling from the top of Alum Cave. Was a little daring trying to hurry up the frozen ground to get under the protection of the cave. Highly enjoyed the excitement of it all. The steps at Arch Rock were a solid sheet of ice. Fell only one time going down them. I enjoy the harder trails with a little twist of ice and snow.

This is an interesting trail with impressive views at the top. Camping is not allowed once you reach a certain elevation (closer to the top, and signs will be posted.) When you reach the trailhead, taking a left will put you through the most difficult half of the trail. The second half is much easier. It was a very beautiful place at the top of the mountain to see the watch the sunset and sunrise.

Really not terribly difficult, the stair portions are the hardest since they are quite the incline (calves and quads will feel it). The rest of the trail is moderate incline the whole way. The view at the top is pretty good but as of recently the last part of the trail has been closed, which is where the good view is.

hiking
11 days ago

Thursday 01/10/2019

Bald River Trail (also called Trail 88) begins to the left of the parking area which is left of a large waterfall visible by the road. The trail takes you to the top of the falls and continues on from there. It is easy to follow (but minimal signs and no blazes) and there are a few camping areas along the way. When you get to the sign with a map you’ll see two trails, the right takes you to a camping area and the left (heading up) is the trail.

There are a few minor water crossings and one more significant one that we reached about 1mi in. This one we did get a little wet at even while attempting to maneuver around it (SEE PHOTOS w/text labels). We only saw one other person while hiking this trail, everyone else was taking photos of the large waterfall from the road.

THIS TRAIL IS AMAZING and very easy (at least the half of it that we did). There are various water falls, a partial cave, rhododendron tunnels, neat rock formations, campsites, open areas, and steep areas. I would highly recommend this trail and would like to go back in the future. (I am an average or below average hiker who is also pregnant and was carrying a 14mo old.)

I believe most of these reviews are for the very short trail to the top, which is not the entirety of this trail. We hiked half-way in about 2.25mi in and back totaling roughly 4.5mi so my review is based off of that.

one of my favorite places

Hike along water almost the entire way! Beautiful!!

We hiked this trail Jan 11th 2019, about 3/4 of the way up there was a bad icy patch, not un-crossable with out clips but definitely not for the feint of heart. There were 9 of us and 4 were inexperienced hikers. This trail was hard but entirely worth the effort. The views from the top were worth all the pain of falling on the ice. Bring lots of water, it gets warmer as you ascend due to the sun shining on the mountain. There are plenty of places to rest and take great pictures.

Worth all the effort! from the moment you see arch rock you know this is gonna be a cool hike. inspiration point should be enough to propel you to the end of this hike, but if that's not enough allum bluff is a wonderful turn around point and not much further past inspiration point. 10/10 will definitely do this hike again.

First time here on Jan 1. The falls and river after heavy rains, bouldering, and climb to the rim exceeded expectations. Old mining town ruins were an unexpected bonus. Will definitely be back.

I went to Old Rag twice I love the heights and big boulder and so much fun along the way. I will come back to it.

This is my favorite hike in Virginia (so far). It’s got amazing views and the rock scramble is so much fun! Bring enough water and take your time! The false summits have great views to rest at if you need them.

Heads up - the parking lot and the surrounding ~5 miles have no cell phone service. There is some sparse service at the summit. Try not to lose your car keys or anything

This is a great trail especially when the water is up. Watching the kayakers on the way up. Some technical up to the falls. Simply beautiful

We did this hike yesterday, after some heavy rain the previous day. From the Bison trailhead the terrain is very muddy. Tall hiking boots and trekking poles will help from falling into the mud, although we didn’t have trekking poles. My wife did fall in once, and I nearly did too several times. Would be good to bring an extra set of clothes and shoes for the ride home, as well as bandana to wipe any mud off from a fall.

Once up the trail, the junction to go up towards to the Indian staircase is not marked at all. We relied on GPS to find it, and other visitors were telling us to go the wrong directions at the Y. From here, elevation increases quickly, first on dirt, then it turns to a stone and tree root split between large boulders where you have to scramble. There are no markings, so use GPS. Next section is a series of different levels of sandstone. There are multiple ways to get from one level to the next, so pick the easiest sure footed way up.

Next is the Indian staircase. If you have never been to the Indian staircase and do not rock climb, it is intimidating. We watched several people go up before we attempted. I wish we had rope as extra security from a misstep. The climb is potentially deadly (do some searches on red river gorge fatalities) so I would suggest not attempting if conditions are wet, snowy, or windy. Take your time and spot your hands and feet deliberately and carefully. We had overnight packs which made it considerably harder (could not lift our heads with the frame of the pack above our necks). The very top of the staircase has the last level of sandstone to get up. Use the small tree at the top to lift you up and slide your butt onto the top level. We saw various people struggle with this. My wife has a little trouble but not as much as some we saw.

Once on the ridge at the top, I thought the hike was physically easy but there are other challenges. Signage and junctions are not well marked. The cliffs are SHEAR drop offs and are everywhere. There are beautiful natural arches which are also a hazard. Watch where you are going, don’t take stupid selfies, and stay away from the cliffs. Also, be mindful of the sunset time. Most deadly accidents in the park seem to involve darkness, inexperience, drugs, and alcohol.

Overall this was one of the most rewarding hikes I’ve had in a while, highly recommended. Come prepared with GPS, battery backups if you are using your phone for navigation. We got lost several times and nearly ran out of battery %. With maps and conserving our batteries, we made it out okay. I do not suggest attempting Indian staircase with a dog or small children.

One of the best in the SE!

Hiked this in December, took the counterclockwise route as suggested. There were 10-12 stream crossings that were very challenging. A few of them can be navigated just staying on dry portions of rock, but most had rocks that were just too far apart to take a step. Solutions include bushwacking off the trail to find a better spot to cross, shimmying across fallen logs, or just take off your shoes and trudging through the ice cold water.

Aside from the initial stream crossings, the hike is not very challenging beyond Devil's Bathtub. There is a sign saying something like "Warning: next 5 miles very strenuous and rugged", but it was a relatively easy walk through the woods compared to the first part of the trail. First 2-3 miles took 3 hours, remaining 5 miles took 2.5 hours.

Overall it was a lot of fun; navigating the stream crossings added an element of challenge and decision-making.

hiking
17 days ago

One of my first hikes!

Just amazing. Simple as that.

Really nice hike with the running water through the caves!

One of my all time favorites to hike any time of the year! More than the 8.6 miles listed if you hike from the parking lot and down fire trail back. The rock scramble is awesome and there’s normally people up there if you need assistance or get stuck that will help you! Beautiful view at the top, normally not that crowded. Can have some congestion at certain parts of rock climb depending on how busy the summer/spring/fall days are. (Fee free weekends get packed) Make sure you have tons of water and snacks! Takes about 4-5 hours with frequent stopping depending on how long you stay at the top. You’ll think you’re at the top 3 different times before you actually are!

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