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A tough but enjoyable trail. A lot of steep steps. Trail is well maintained.

I live up here and this is my favorite hike to take especially when fall hits.

hiking
9 hours ago

There are two ways to get to Big Butt: a stiff steep hike from NC 197 at Cane Gap or a longer ridge and multi peak climb from the Walker Knob Overlook on the BRP about 5 miles south of the Mount Mitchell State park entrance (NC 128). I took the latter route which longer, but ultimately more rewarding as you climb Brush Fence Ridge, and up and over Point Misery and Little Butt before arriving at the side trail to the summit of Big Butt.

These peaks form the western rim of the Black Mountain and lie thousands of feet above the Cane River Gorge that can be head roaring below when you get to Little Butt. The forest resembles the Mount Mitchell Trail flora and fauna, event though the elevations do not exceed 6000 feet. The trail is well maintained by the the NC High Peaks Trail Association and included hundreds of wooden step that make the climbs much easier to maneuver. The best views lie on the ridge between Little Butt and Big Butt. Unfortunately clouds rolled in when I hiked this track and so was only able to catch short glimpses of the valley to the east (and not the Black Mountain Crest). Hiking this route in early spring or late fall should give you a better chance of good weather and less foliage blocking vistas.

From the Walker Knob Overlook, take the trailhead to the SOUTH. **Be careful here as an old forest road and the Mountains to Sea also converge in the field behind the overlook parking lot. You will descend over a hundred feet before gently ascending to the top of Brush Fence Ridge and finally to the summit of Point Misery (the name was not indicative of this side of the mountain - the return trip up the backside will give you an appreciation of why it is appropriately named). The HP is just off the trail and there is a Geodetic Marker as well as several marked bearing trees nearby.

From there, descend steeply over 300 feet to a grassy gap and then ascend up a series of stairs around giant rocks to the inauspicious peak of Little Butt Mountain. The trail continues a very narrow ridge reminiscent of the Amphibuolite Mountains. Look for rock outcrops to the right and left of the trail for some tremendous views of the Black Mountains (east) and the Craggy Mountains (west).

Continue along the ridge ascending gently to a well marked side trail to the left that will take you via an interesting semi-open trail to the summit of Big Butt. No ascertainable views here, but I accidentally surprised a nide of about 30 pheasants. The tremendous fluttering and so much wing flapping and feathers flying gave a feeling of both being on the the set of THE BIRDS and of marveling at the sight of these beautiful creatures. Then the rain started. It continued off and on on the hike back and was so intense at times that I felt more like this was the Amazon rain forest, not western NC. And yet, once I got wet, it was pleasant. Only real obstacle was the relentless climb back up to Point Misery.

Of course once I got back to the car, the rain stopped and the sun came out! For completists, cross the road and hike to the crest of Walker Knob on the M-to-S trail (see separate entry for more detail on this peak and others described above).

Was a great and wonderful trail. Must be prepared, the hike is fairly easy to arch rock. Then to the bluffs, it get a little tougher but well worth it. If you plan on going to the top it get very tough we made it in 4 hrs but took well over 400 pics lol, well worth any pain or soreness you may have later.

Great workout and beautiful views! Highly recommended!!

nature trips
1 day ago

When you get there, they have tons of parking area with a gift shop and bathrooms. The hike is easy but some is uphill. Beautiful views! They keep the area very clean and have wide trails. A lot of people go there! I'll be going back for sure!

This trail is steep, but very well maintained and Rainbow Falls was a great reward for my 11, 10, and 8 year old hiking companions.

on Pinnacle Park

1 day ago

This is a VERY rocky trail to the point of being not enjoyable.

Challenging but rewarding hike!

Well maintained trail. Pretty views from the bald. Weird to be climbing up on your way out, but doable & lovely.

hiking
1 day ago

I hiked it this morning, hoping to see a sunrise at the top. However the rain clouds blocked any “red” from the chimney top you can see. The trail is well maintained and easy to hike in the dark with a head lamp. I’m hoping they work on the last quarter of a mile and open it to the public so you can get closer to the unique tops.

I have previously hiked other trails up LeConte and was happy to see a change of scenery on this trail. The different rock features were interesting and the Bluff was neat. I started out early so I was able to easily find parking and avoided the crowds.

Description of this trail is a bit misleading. I was expecting it to be 10 miles round trip but it is actually 6.6 miles one way from Carver's Gap to the Stan Murray shelter. Went a little ways past that shelter before realizing we had definitely gone more than 5 miles and had to turn around. Never made it to the Overmountain shelter but it was almost all uphill on the way back and we were so exhausted we barely made it. Even so, we loved the views on the balds and the forest is also beautiful so once I have built up enough stamina for such a long hike I want to go back and do the whole 22 miles.

Easy for first time hikers as well as experienced. just make sure you have water prior as water is quarter mile away if you dont want to walk. but worth it!!!

hiking
2 days ago

Good hike to beautiful views of the falls and mountains. Well worth the time.

Hello! I'm looking to hike/camp on this trail soon and was wondering if it's necessary to have a bear canister? I currently don't own one, so if you know of a place close by that you can rent one, that would also be helpful!

thank you!
hmweeks93@gmail.com

Love love loved it! Last hike we did before we leave for home. Glad we waited to do it last. Was not difficult at all.

Great hike and decent workout. The only bad thing i would say is that parking at Jones Gap sucks. Make sure you get there early or you will be waiting a long time for a parking spot.

Challenging trail but, the views are amazing.

This should not be rated hard. Sure there are rocks and some roots on the trail but it’s not a sidewalk. I consider a hard trail one that requires all fours to go up and over, or at least some scrambles and that’s what I was expecting from these reviews. Didn’t happen. This was a moderate trail with a lot of switch backs that make it long but at no point was it a hard trail. I made it up and back in exactly 4.5 hours and that included all stops and my big 15 minutes at the summit to take in the views. I’ve never done a 10+ mile trail rated hard in that time. Anyway, fun hike with a lot of terrain changes (clay, dirt, sand) the switchbacks were annoying but you could see why they were needed. There was just no other way up the mountain. Tower at the top is kind of cool.

I do this trail so often. it is my favorite loop in the Triangle.

nice little hike to some really pretty falls. It is pretty steep most of the way but the trail is a gravel road for half the way up. For people not in the best shape it may be slow going but worth it.

hiking
3 days ago

Really enjoyed the hike to the falls. The trail is gorgeous, and the "obstacles" walking in and around rocks and tree roots made it interesting. Definitely not difficult, since we saw many people with young children during the hike. Took our two Chihuahuas along and they had no problem with the terrain. The falls at the end made the hike well worth it.

The fire tower view was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears of backpacking that climb. We stayed at site 38 on the 4th of July and watched the fireworks displays in the surrounding areas from the fire tower. Worth every step.

on Chimney Tops Trail

hiking
3 days ago

It’s a great hike, not as strenuous as people claimed. Nicely maintained trail, with a lot of stairs. My 5 year old hiked up without any problem. She was super disappointed that we are no longer allowed to climb the big rock on the top. I thought there would be some rocks to climb at the end, but it was only the newly built platform. The view on the top is ok, not spectacular. The view of the stairs is much better.

hiking
3 days ago

A great hike, the stairs through the rock makes the hiking interesting. At the top of alum Cave, the view was ok, but the cave is magnificent. My 5 year old enjoyed it.

On 8/15/2018 at 1700hrs my wife and I saw an adult black bear on the Art Loeb Trail just below Shining Rock.

Someone had left a day pack on the ground there between the junction for the Cold Mountain trail and Shining Rock.

The bear WAS NOT scared away easily.

Also the blueberries and blackberries are now mature and we saw bear scat on the trail in multiple places.

Exercise caution between Grassy Cove Top and Shining Rock as the crowds fall off and it seems people are being reckless with their food.

Other than the bear this hike is great.

Also be careful to avoid the side trails around Shining Rock. It’s really easy to get lost up there!

If you are looking for an easy trail that gives great 360 views- this is one of the best in that regard

hiking
4 days ago

Well worth the effort. Only a few other people on the trail and had the falls all to myself.

Peaceful hike to a gorgeous bald with stunning views. The day we went the parking lot was packed but everybody else went the other way, we had the trail to ourselves, literally, all the way down and back up. Loved the hike. Not too strenuous, and took us under 2 hours.

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