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Very solid and well maintained trail. I'd recommend using Guthook's Guide as well as AllTrails app since you are walking the AT for most of this loop. It'll help with planning your water stops. Finished the trail in 2 days, but I'd recommend 3 if you want to have a more casual time. The shelters and sites are spaced pretty well if you'd rather average 8-9 miles a day.

I headed counter-clockwise down the Kimsey Creek trail first. It was bit overgrown and there were several blowdowns for the first half mile or so, but as long as you are paying attention you shouldn't have any issues. This portion follows and cuts across streams almost constantly so you will have no problem with water. I'd suggest filling up before heading up to Standing Indian mountain though, just in case.

After Carter Gap shelter, it's pretty much smooth sailing until a couple miles before the Long Branch junction. On my trip, there was a massive blowdown fully blocking the trail. I climbed over the tree, but I would 100% recommend that you try to squeeze under it or maybe hike up the mountain a bit to walk around it. It had rained earlier that day and everything was slippery.

If you are heading NOBO, the hike up Albert Mountain is pretty intense. It's half stairs, half rock climbing. There is a bypass you can use which follows a forestry service road for a bit and reconnects on the other side. It took me roughly 30 mins to climb the 0.3 mi from the base to the fire tower. I hiked this part after it rained, and the rocks were pretty slippery. You can always do the bypass then just hike SOBO up to the tower.

Awesome change of scenenry along a short 8 miles! It was more difficult than I expected....but I based my expectation off of the State Park Trail Map. It had the completion time for the 1.2 mile flat gravel trail around the lake at 1 hour. It had the completion time for the Gahuti trail at 5 hrs for 8 miles...it actually took me 5 full hours. Lots of ups and downs. I saw a lot of squirrels and a family of raccoons. The lake trail and the wall trail are not actually part of the g
Gahuti but I did those as well. When you are in this park it doesn't feel like you are in the mountains at all...untill you get to the overlooks! Reminded me of the Cloudland Canyon west rim trail.

Hiked the entire loop 2 day/1 night. The trail is longer than marked- my watch estimated about 19 miles rather than 17.5. North Plateau is covered in thorns and seed ticks as a heads up. Water is kind of low right now at all the creeks and spring at the cabin. Good hike just wear long pants for the NP! North Rim is fantastic.

Hiked the North Rim trail to Hobbs cabin and stayed the night this past weekend. Took the plateau trail out. The NR trail needs some serious maintenance. Lots of trees down, brush and thorns on the trail. Got lots of poison ivy.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like the trail mileage is a lot longer than what the signs say. Over all, it’s a good endurance trail with great views.

This place rocks. Fun to play / picnic by the creek at the main parking lot... or hike up in the hills. Super fun!

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail! Easily done with my three dogs, fantastic views and waterfalls.

Great trail! Lots of ups and down to keep your heart pumping and plenty of beautiful views to keep you interested along the way.

backpacking
2 months ago

Until a proper maintenance crew decides to work on the trail past the first 5 miles from the trail head, one had better prepare for one heck of a disappointment.

To begin with, every trail in the area is blazed the same color. For some reason, the crew doesn't understand that a trail more than 12 miles "should" be blazed white while spurs and intersecting trails "should" be a different color. Also, there are blazes where is's painfully obvious there is a trail but at the "balds" (which aren't) and the gaps, where the briars are head high and the trail so faint it's difficult to navigate, there are no blazes. Nada. None. There are more "Bear Sanctuary" placards than trail blazes.

Water. Bring more than you think you'll need. Then bring twice that. The water sources are few and far between. Remember, you're at the top of a ridge. To get to any water it's hundreds (more than 200) meters to a POSSIBLE water source which is downhill (way down hill) from the trail. The "map" Alltrails offers doesn't mark any of them and the "reviews" posted below are less than helpful. Seriously... bring more water than you think you'll need.

I'm not going to bother with the issue of the elevation gain and loss... it's a ridge run... it's expected (and one of the main reasons I went this week). However... due to the remoteness of the trail; IF/WHEN there is a medical emergency, lost/overdue hiker, etc you will be stuck in place with no help for over 24 hours. Or more. My hiking partner and I are both search and rescue technicians and know our jobs well. I may know what I'm talking about here.

Other hazards include wild hogs (we had a passel of them "interact" with us out around Signal Knob), trail along the sides of hills that are overgrown and not well cut (one slip in the rain and there's a strong possibility of a serious fall or an ankle injury, massive fallen trees blocking the trail and did I mention the lack of proper blazes?

Really.... unless you are a serious back-country backpacker with extremely strong navigation skills, stay off this trail. Oh, and find a better map than the one here. The actual Rim Trail leaves/reaches the ridge west of Shortoff but keep in mind that all the elevation it took you 2 days to gain is lost in less than half a day.

I give this trail 5 stars not for it's beauty but for it's difficulty. Some of the other reviewers never ran this ridge, they stayed in the valley along the river.

backpacking
2 months ago

This was our first trail to backpack overnight. The scenery is beautiful. It is a pretty hard trail the first 2 miles and the last 2 miles. There are 4 campsites. The campsites just have a flat spot for your tent and a fire pit. The only complaint was that campsite one was not marked and was right on the trail. The trail is a little grown over at places with tall grass and poison oat so be sure to wear appropriate clothing and bring bug spray. This is black bear country so be smart. We will definitely be returning.

my partner and I hiked this trail last weekend, it was cooler and breezy which made the hike very nice. Spectacular overlooks, changing terrain, waterfalls, mountains. We had a great time. We passed about 8 people in the entire 8+ miles, I think half of them asked if we had seen any bears, apparently bears are prevalent at fort mountain SP. We did not see any bears by the way...this is an excellent hike, we would do it again. It took about 4.75 hours to complete, and we stopped for lunch on the trail and at one of the overlooks. We like to hike at a pretty moderate pace.

July 4th hike. No one on the trail, save a mama black bear that would not move and was getting very worked up about 20 feet off the trail near milepost 2. After a couple seconds of primal reaction on my part (neither of us saw one another until the last minute) I tried to look "big", stood my ground for a few seconds then sloooowly walked along grabbing some rocks just in case it got crazy. Will do the bear bells next time just in case. As for the trail, very well blazed, quite varied, and a pleasant escape, except for the section near Gold Mine Trail, which uses an old roadbed. Nice to eat the first blueberries and huckleberries of the season along the western side. Once I got to mile 7 going clockwise I was sad to see it end so soon. Definitely worth a do-over.

If ticks give you the heebie-jeebies then this isn’t the hike for you! I’ve never seen so many ticks in my life. Every time I looked down my pants were covered in ticks. I must have pulled 50 or more ticks off me throughout the hike. So if you plan on doing this hike make sure your clothes are treated or better yet just do it in the winter. Other than that the hike was ok but the ride home was itchy.

TICKS! TICKS! TICKS!!!!!!!! and MORE TICKS!!!!!!
Came to do this trail on July 2nd 2018. My hiking partner came from NC and we hiked from the overlook around the 8 mile loop.
He picked at least 50 ticks off of his pants from the knees the down!! NO EXAGGERATION!!! I have never seen so many ticks in my life! I only found 2 on my right sock. I was wearing shorts, he was wearing pants.
Other than that... it was a great hike and a great workout! I will ONLY return in the winter time! I have named this place in my saved files as “Tick City”
It was things nightmares are made of!

Great Trail, marked well. The park staff is awesome!

some of the markers where hard to see and I walked 2 miles past my turn so had to turn around and go back but in all a great place to hike.

hiking
3 months ago

This route seems to have been created before the 2011 Super Outbreak that damaged/caused a few trails to be closed. A few of the trails this route suggests aren't on the trial map anymore. Trail 209 at route mile 19 no longer splits into 2 trails. A better option would be to jump on trail 207 at route mile 18.

The listed mileage for this route is inaccurate. By the time I had reached route mile 9, my recording was saying mile 11, so be aware. I improvised and went down trail 204, kept right where the trial splits, then left as it splits again onto East Bee Branch Canyon trail. From there I went left onto trail 209 and followed it until it met back up with the original route. This put me at 21 miles total and brought me to 3 separate waterfalls.

This route is best suited for a 3 day weekend, and is not a good over night trip unless you are an experienced backpacker who likes to put in long days.

Water is scare from route mile 8-14 so when you get to the wooden bridge at the County 3 trail head fill up all your bottles. Alternatively, you can hike down trail 204, then keep right when the trail splits to get you to a nice creek/waterfall, but that will add about 2 mile to the loop.

The only reason I'm giving this route 3 starts is due to the mileage being inaccurate, and it leading you to trails that are no longer officially listed. For an over night trip, I'd say this route is difficult, due to the long miles you'd need to put in, but a 2 night trip this hike is moderate.

I would agree with a previous reviewer, we considered this trail to be on the more difficult side of moderate. We did not start at the overlook and were glad we didn’t. We opted into starting at the park entrance for the 5 mile hike up with the overlook as our reward before our 3 miles out. The views did not disappoint!

hiking
3 months ago

Did the loop for the first time last week (early June). Counter-clockwise. Obviously the bugs were out and the trail was starting to get overgrown with weeds in a few places. Didn't seem anybody had been on it too recently and lots of spider webs to negotiate. Not bad though, as the hard-packed trail is still easy to follow, but would imagine it would be uncomfortable soon. In some areas I was walking through weeds and shrubs on the trail, so grateful I was in long pants. 1 tick and a couple of chigger bites is what it cost me. Temperature was not bad, but ended up using a lot more water than I thought I would. In the rocky sections of the Pinhoti and stairway area I needed to find the marks on the trees to follow the trail. It was fine, but had to double back a couple of times. That is the most difficult part, the Chinnobee Silent is easy, and the skyway probably moderate. I hiked 13 miles the first day and camped by the water a couple of miles into the skyway trail. I missed the water crossing where I camped and again had to double back past the campsite to find the path. No big deal, just lost a little time. Be careful to notice the painted trees if you are by yourself, and note that the actual path is hard packed and easy to stay on. Looking forward to doing this in the fall, winter or spring when things would be more ideal

Plenty of blooming flora. However, wear pants, poison ivy was pretty tight to the trail. The leaves were out on the trees, so the vistas weren't there, but we encountered two black bears! Hike was a workout, but worth it.

Beautiful trail but youre definitely close to cabins/pavilions/ general development for a good portion of the trail. This could be good or bad depending on your personal preferences.

backpacking
3 months ago

Used this trail as my introduction to backpacking. What a beautiful trail!

great trail.

backpacking
4 months ago

This is a spectacular work out as well as incredibly easy on the eyes. My partner and I started at a nontraditional point and it turned out to be a fantastic decision. We went counter clockwise and finish the hike near the falls. I do wish dogs are allowed on the beach. Now that would be the way to finish the hike.

backpacking
4 months ago

The Gahuti is beautiful and campsite #3 has awesome views. The trail is marked with orange blazes and despite what another review said, easily followable.
The first two miles and the last two miles are strenuous.
Starting just past mile 5 there are beautiful creeks with small waterfalls. At the very end you’ll cross the main road then hike down to a observation deck with a gorgeous view. This is easily my favorite trail so far.

Great trail as said before. The weather changes fast. We got caught in a bad hail storm. Despite that there are numerous of places to camp. I went counter clockwise and that was very challenging although it left some great views for the second day (black balsam, shining rock etc.). If you go counter clockwise and plan to go up old butt knob be sure to have at least 2:30 hours from East Fork and at least 2.5 L of water filled up from the river. It is a very steep section and the first campsite takes quite some hiking to get to. If not shining creek path is a much easier alternative. Old Butt Trail gets a little confusing near shining rock as well. We had to bushwhack through about a quarter mile to remain on the trail. If you are inexperienced and new to the shining rock area consider downloading and viewing this map in real-time, it helps a lot.

Just did this hike for a 3day trip. We parked at standing Indian campground for $2 per day. Day 1 we went about 12 Miles south/clockwise and camped at carter gap. There were plenty of tent sites and fire rings there but it was crowded. So don’t expect privacy here. Day 2 we went about 9.5 Miles and camped at deep gap. Several spots here as well, but is right off of a road. We found a private site close to the creek and there was only one other group camping in the area. Someone had recently cut down a tree and chopped up firewood so that was convenient. Day 3 we hiked the kimsey creek trail (3.7 Miles) back to our car. You will cross and walk through creeks and streams the entire time your on this section and there were a lot of downed trees. It was rated as easiest, but definitely was not that. It was a good trail overall though. The whole hike was great.

Hiked the North Rim Trail to Hobbs Cabin and back this past weekend (~10 miles Saturday, ~8.5 miles Sunday). Couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. Trails are well marked, there is plenty of access to water, clean campsites and excellent views.

Would highly recommend to backpackers of all levels looking for a weekend getaway.

Great hike. I did this hike in 13hrs over a 2 day period. The first half was not bad, more of a walk through the woods feel. Second half was a little more of a challenge. Took me an extra hour for the second half of the trail due to the climbs.

horseback riding
4 months ago

We thoughly enjoyed our ride this past weekend. I would have given it 5 stars but the trails were not very well maintained. There were several places the men in our group, thankfully they were well prepared, had to clear trees from the trails. There were lots of Laurel thickets that the trail went through, we had to bend over and get off in places, but it was with it. The sites were beautiful up top. Coming down there was several places to water the horses. Camping at Bristol Fields Horse Camp was very nice. I enjoyed hearing Fires Creek all night, made for good sleeping.

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