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Lovely, largely shaded trail evidently recently cleared (only one easily traversible tree fall blocking the path today). The necessity of having to ford 5 knee-deep and fairly fast water crossings along return (or outgoing) portion of Caldwell Fork Trail makes it much more challenging than 4 years ago when bridges were intact.

Not for the inexperienced hiker! Be aware there are several water crossings and be prepared to get boots and more wet! This hike is beautiful and a lot of fun! BTW not sure how all trails comes up with 5.6 miles...we measured 6.5 around the loop!

hiking
19 hours ago

Beautiful hike! It had some steep inclines that were tough on me at 4 months pregnant, but the destination was worth it!

great trail though be ready to get your butt kicked by it. compared to some other "hard" alltrails I've done, this one is VERY hard. otherwise awesome. I assume the difficulty keeps people away as i only saw 3 other humans in the 7 hours I was out there.

A very easy trail with wonderful views

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

By far one of my favs. Easy trail, but still interesting. Great views at the top

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

This is a nice, not too challenging hike. It’s uphill most of the way in, so that part is a little tough. It’s easy on the way out. Waterfall is really pretty with a small wading area at the base. Dog friendly for a well behaved dog.

hiking
1 day 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).

I thought this was the best trail in the area. Went early on a weekday and there were no other hikers on the trail though there were MANY on Panthertown Valley trail on the way back

Easy hike. You need to take the side trails for most of the waterfalls and balds. A lot of day hikers. Many camping sites but only saw one other set of campers that day/night

on Red Fork Falls Trail

2 days ago

been 3 times and each time it was just as beautiful. would never be bored going to see it. there is also a waterfall at tbe base to your left just crawl threw tbe rhodadenrons it us worth the crawl also

Can be a bit of a treacherous descent and a hard climb out, but well worth the effort.

on Pinnacle Park

2 days ago

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

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

Great trails. Fantastic scenery!

From benign to intense. A must hike.

hiking
3 days ago

Very well kept trail. Challenging but doable!

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

Challenging, steep hike with very little compensation until the end, which makes everything worth it

Okay trail would be best in fall so you could have a clear view to the Rock faces and such. Also watch out for snakes. I came across about a 5 to 6 foot long eastern diamond back rattle snake coiled up in the center of the small path. very big snake and he blended in very well. didn't know he was there till I was right on top of him rattling his tail and hissing. Lots of ticks on my dog afterwards as well. cool cave and nice rocks to climb.

Great views of the falls, stairs are new and easy to climb

One of the shortest, but most difficult hikes we've taken. Straight up and down, but the falls and swimming hole were worth every step!

Fairly heavy traffic when I was out, so don't plan on escaping into natural solitary. Overall a fun hike on the strenuous end of moderate thanks to some steep climbs and scrabbling. I would recommend proper footwear for maximum enjoyment and safety, on a wet day like today I was grateful for the tread.

Great hike. improvements are continuing to be made.

Amazing hike, we hiked it on a rainy day but it was still a great time. I highly recommend for everyone!

hiked this trail at 730am and it was beautiful and peaceful. The only strenuous part was the stairs coming back up from the falls, very rocky.

on Rainbow Falls Trail

hiking
5 days ago

A good hike. Only opens on Fridays to Sundays. Mostly unpaved, with rain it could be a bit muddy. My 5 year old did it. It took a bit time to hike up, but coming down was a breeze.

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!

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