backpacking
blowdown
over grown
scramble
25 days ago

Definitely expect wilderness with this trail. A friend and I planned to spend 3 days and 2 nights to complete this loop in early May 2020, but we had to cut it short due to inclement weather. We started at the south trailhead of East Cowpen near Three Forks Mountain. We passed a campsite at the junction of Panther Creek trail and East Cowpen. From that point on the trail was through thick thorny new growth and the occasional downed tree. I would recommend wearing pants to protect your legs. The next campsite was at the junction of East Cowpen and Hickory Ridge trail. East Cowpen becomes very difficult after a half mile or so. There are many downed trees from there all the way to the Hickory Creek trail junction. Expect to climb over, around, and under fallen trees for about two miles. The section of East Cowpen between Rice Camp trail and the Horseshoe Bend is a gravel road which was a welcomed sight after navigating through the fallen trees. There are a few campsites tucked away where East Cowpen and Rice Camp cross. We didn’t find any suitable sites to camp on Horseshoe Bend. We ended up camping where Horseshoe Bend meets up with Jacks River trail. There were stone fire rings at each of the campsites we came across. We tried to ford Jacks River the next morning, but it had rained the night before and the water was too high and fast. It looked like something you’d go white water rafting on. So, we turned around and headed back to the car. We decided not to stay another night because our sleeping bags got wet from the storm and the temperatures at night were in the 40s. Water wasn’t too hard to find. The other reviews explained where to find it pretty well. All in all it was a fun trip. Very challenging physically. We ended up only seeing 3 other people the entire time we were on the trail. I hope this helps!

hiking
blowdown
over grown
scramble
1 month ago

From Three Forks lot went down Rough Ridge to Jacks River, camped, then up and out via Cowpen. Cowpen is nice. Rough Ridge is terrible AVOID Rough Ridge...its unmaintained and full of blow downs. Sometimes you wonder if you are doing more climbing than hiking! Plus no good views or vistas. Life's too short to deal with than kind of bushwacking and climbing. Legs are all scraped up

backpacking
blowdown
over grown
2 months ago

We did the trail loop counterclockwise. The trail was good to the spur. At that point the river crossings began and the trail was not marked. The crossings were marked, but you had to look closely. There were so many blowdowns we missed a turn and continue on the older route. We dropped our packs so we could make it to the falls. After visiting the falls we returned on the correct trail and retrieved our packs. Even the correct trail had many blowdowns. We made it a couple of miles past the spur and at least 8 river crossings (almost waist deep) to camp the second night in the middle of the trail, because of so many blowdowns. Sooo many blowdowns and a total of about 30 river crossings. ( springtime rains made all the crossings very tuff) If the trail and campsites were cleaned up, it would be a fantastic hike. It would be a lot of work to get this trail good again. March of 2020.

backpacking
blowdown
3 months ago

hiking
off trail
over grown
7 months ago

Trust the other reviewers because my group didn’t and we low key paid for it. The trail is covered with fallen trees, so you’re basically climbing over trees and going through thorns and all sorts of other barriers.

hiking
muddy
over grown
7 months ago

Great trail, a little unkempt but a great challenge, I recommend a change of socks, and be ready to take it back to the 80’s it’s “Wet wet wet” at the crossings. Enjoy

Lots of river crossings you will get wet for sure. Challenging hike!

no shade
off trail
over grown
rocky
washed out
7 months ago

most difficult trail I've ever hiked. trail is overgrown with thorns due to a recent fire killing off all the top growth, so no shelter from the sun either. went with a group whose hands and legs were shreaded by thorns by the end of this trip. There are also many downed trees making the trail difficult to navigate. Coming back from the falls along fought ridge trail, there is no obvious water source and you'll be going all uphill until the last mile or so. Would not hike this trail again.

Great trail for a challenge. Did it in 1 night, with a late start on day 1. We ended up hiking a lot of day 1 at night, which I don't recommend. TONS of water crossings, which gets pretty cold in the fall months at night. But the falls at the end are gorgeous! This is a great trek if you're looking for a bit of a challenge.

hiking
blowdown
rocky
7 months ago

hiking
blowdown
over grown
7 months ago

Went backpacking with a buddy starting at East Cowpen and headed onto Rough Ridge. This trail is both over grown and fairly untraveled, and seems to completely disappear at times, but it is absolutely gorgeous. Shoutout to my dude Clinton “The Machine” Tigges trekking it, we totally passed you. Made it past the falls on Jack’s River and camped just before the Horseshoe exchange. In the morning, we couldn’t find the intersection and wound up hiking about a mile up Jack’s. Gave up and decided to just hike back the way we came. Rough Ridge is ROUGH the uphill way, especially running into all the briers. Saw a bear and a wild boar on the way back, but both took off when they spotted us. Overall, beautiful hike with plenty of wildlife, but definitely go with pants on this one!

hiking
blowdown
over grown
7 months ago

East Cowpen and Rough Ridge are both in need of some serious trail maintenance. There are alot of down trees on the trail and briers galore. Bear scat along both cowpen and rough ridge. I ran into three black bears on rough ridge trail and one of them growled at me. I would not suggest hiking alone or without bear spray.

backpacking
blowdown
flooded
off trail
over grown
rocky
washed out
7 months ago

Started at East Cowpen and went up rough ridge to Jacks River, then turned around deep into horseshoe. These trails are overgrown and full of fallen trees. Because of the fires, there is also a lot of new growth meaning lots of briers. Did see a bear on rough ridge near sunset along with a wild boar. Clinton "The Machine" Tigges was the only other hiker we saw on these trails. If you can handle the changes in terrain and altitudes, the views are worth it.

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