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Beautiful hike, would definitely recommend going after the rain the waterfall is really flowing then!

As of January 1, 2019 trailhead road access on Blue Ridge Parkway is currently closed. You can still hike Flat Top from the AllTrails listing in Buchanan.

21 days ago

Very nice hike! Some notes/tips:
-my GPS logged the "4 mile" loop (according to the signs at the preserve) as 3.65 miles, including a couple of miss-starts and short spur trails.
-if you're looking to do the longer "4 mile" loop (sign indicates this is marked by blue blazes), you actually do have to follow the red blazes for the first .3 miles from the parking lot. At this point, you'll reach the "trailhead" where the blue blazes begin. It's well marked from this point forward, and there are various options for shorter hikes. There are a couple of short spur trails, too, that are short enough to be worth it even on foggy/low-visibility days.
-a previous review mentions a large tree that uprooted. The tree is still there, but a new path has been constructed through the hole in the ground, including stepping stones. There were a couple of smaller pines blown across the trail as well, but they're easy enough to step through.
-counterclockwise (once you get down to the "trailhead") is a good tip. You have the switchbacks working in your favor on the climb back up in this case.
-the coordinates to the parking lot are linked correctly on All Trails (through Google Maps). The road, however, is steep and windy, often only a car length and a half wide. It was very foggy when I went, so drive slowly and carefully. Coming from Salem, the parking lot will be on the right side of the road; descend into the gravel parking area and you'll see the start of the trail.

3.65 miles
1:21 hours
889 ft elevation gain

Tough hike but cannot beat the view from the cliffs. The parking area is small (smaller than McAfee Knob parking area) and there are no restrooms at the trailhead. Take a moment to stop at the kiosk and read about Andy Layne for whom the trail is named after. The trail can get muddy so use caution if you are hiking after a recent rain. The trail is marked well and has some big elevation changes so give yourself time to hike it and to enjoy time at the cliffs. Once you are at the cliffs you will be rewarded with magnificent views if the weather permits. McAfee Knob can be seen from each viewpoint and take the time to hike further down for more views and a closet look at McAfee.

Really nice hike - especially in the winter. Rhododendron are particularly beautiful. Pretty easy - took us maybe 2.5 hours total (and that was taking the long route up and back - which I would highly recommend). Definitely worth coming back in the summer/fall.

25 days ago

Beautiful views in the winter. Going up the blue trail you will see old homesteads, back down the yellow trail keep an eye out for a side trail to your right leading you down to The Kettles. A few trees to cross but nothing impassable.

Great moderate hike. Take it counterclockwise to avoid too much uphill (mostly at the end). There are a couple places to stop to enjoy a view or a water break. When I was there mid-November 2018 a massive tree uprooted next to the trail and wiped it out. IF not yet repaired, we found it best to go into the crater left by the tree and back out again. If coming from Salem, GPS directions are incorrect and will tell you the parking area and trailhead are about 2 miles before you actually get to the parking area.

Hiked this on a foggy, muddy Sunday morning. Despite the conditions, this was highly worth it and highly recommended. There's a decently large parking area. No restrooms at the trailhead. Very muddy and slippery right now, but all the bridges are in good shape. Hiking poles would have been nice to have. A couple of smaller trees have been blown across the trail, but the bigger trees that fell on the AT portion have been taken care of. We didn't get any views because of the weather, but it was still hauntingly beautiful. Only passed 3 other sets of people (including two rangers). Must not get much traffic on a winter Sunday.

7.51 miles
3:09 hours

We did the short red trail, Pirate Bush. nice weather, easy short hike, not many people and the trail was clear.

2 months ago

I would judge this a Difficult hike, though it is listed as moderate. We went yesterday (11/4/18), and the trail is very narrow in places with many loose rocks and leaves covering much of the path. There are also many steep drop offs down into the ravine below as well as creeks to cross several times. The views are stunning and the creek is gorgeous. My six and a half year old son did well with it, but it definitely pushed his limit. It was far too difficult for my three and a half year old daughter, who I ended up carrying much of the way. It also measures 4 miles parking lot to parking lot, so the 3.4 mile description is a bit deceiving.

The hike was challenging but the view was worth it!

We hiked connecting from McAfees Knob trail and it made for a beautiful vista as well.

Hiked to Tinker Cliffs on 10/31/18 and trail was in great shape including the 2 bridges. This was my first time hiking this trail and I was very impressed with the trail and the view from the top. Took me about 1:40 to get to the top and it was worth it! I’d recommend walking another 5 minutes to the left when you get to the top for maximum view.

Did this hike yesterday. Was pretty good hike. It was more strenuous in some parts, especially the last .5 miles to the top which felt more like a mile than just a half. Keeping in mind that I am 25lb overweight. The day was cool and windy, but worked up a great sweat. Very nice people on the trail giving you advice on the best spots for pictures. The summit was beautiful and relaxing, I just wished I had of started earlier and was able to stay a bit longer. Great hike.

3 months ago

Great moderate hike on a Sunday morning, just as the leaves were starting to turn. Saw only 3 other couples. You have to follow the red trail to access the blue, longer trail. We went counter clockwise. Mostly wooded, rocky path with nice views at various points. Nice small waterfalls and creek crossings. The second half elevation change gets your heart going, but worth it.

BRIDGE IS OUT! We tried to do this hike this morning but the bridge about .7 miles in is washed out (probably by hurricane Michael). We will try again in a few months.

First so no one else wanders around aimlessly looking for the trailhead, it begins across the Parkway and just a little bit north. Good trail, although a little rocky

3 months ago

Great hike. Was a bit foggy when we left. We only made it about 3/4's of the way on the long loop as we ran across a very aggressive copperhead and had to turn back. Otherwise, a great hike!

This was a pretty good hike for new and experienced outdoor goers. My kids are 10, 8, and 3 and they did fairly well. The three year old said it was amazing (as she rode on my back lol). This past weekend was in the mid to upper 70s and so it was super enjoyable without being too hot. Bugs were at a minimum. Only a few other hikers we passed so not too much traffic. My only complaint is we didn’t realize the hike ended at the overlook, meaning the kids couldn’t actually go to the base of the waterfall. We did that in Washington State where they could throw rocks and explore. So needless to say, they were a little disappointed. But overall, everyone had a good time. We did the blue and red trails and as a side note with the little ones, it took us a bit longer to finish (around 3 hours). Oh, and the trails were not super well groomed...one section had several fallen trees across that we had to climb over.

hiked this trail years ago, and the fall was dry, this past weekend was great you can get 4.5 to 5 mile out of this hike it you want. we took the yellow, to red in, and blue out. we have had ALOT of rain so lots of water where you want in and where you dont, lol. will be doing this again.

Nice day hike with a well maintained trail. When you’ve reached the elevation sign at the top, keep exploring..... you’ll find a boulder hidden summit with excellent views!!

4 months ago

This trail had nice views but was pretty shaded by trees. I ended up taking a much longer loop which was both positive and negative!

4 months ago

what a hike. coming back was easier its very nice

4 months ago

its a nice view and worth it

The trail was fairly easy with no steep inclines rather gradual inclines. I went to the end of the red trail where the large waterfall was in the distance. It was very beautiful and calming to watch. To get to the falls you can go on the shorter red trail or the blue trail then on to the red trail. I was told the blue trail had a cemetery and some old buildings if you knew what you were looking for, but I did not go on that trail. To loop back I went on the yellow trail which takes you down to bottom creek gorge which was also beautiful and nice to take a dip on a hot day. The yellow trail is narrow at times and overgrown, watch out for poison ivy! On the drive in I saw 6 deer and a rabbit, and on the trail I saw a salamander and a friendly bumblebee that let me take some close ups so keep your eyes open!

I had a wonderful time hiking the red trail at Bottom Creek. The waterfall is beautiful!! I can't wait to go back and possibly have a picnic and explore the other trails.

4 months ago

the hike was really pretty. it was very shaded. the overlook was amazing, just not enough places to sit and enjoy the view besides one tiny bench. overall i really enjoyed it.

Fun hike, kind of tough. Great views. Saw a bear. it is the end of summer so many places on the trails are starting to get tight due to vegetation. It is obvious that a lot of time and effort has gone into making this accessible and safe. Not a beginner's hike. I recommend coming after the leaves have fallen, the views would be breathtaking. A little rocky so wear good shoes.

This was a amazing hike , hard but fun the stairs were challenging as well as the incline changes but I def recommend hiking early in the am less crowded

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