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The Pisgah National Forest is a land of mile-high peaks, cascading waterfalls, and heavily forested slopes. Comprised of over 500,000 acres, the Pisgah is primarily a hardwood forest with whitewater rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails. This national forest is home of the first tract of land purchased under the Weeks Act of 1911 which led to the creation of the national forests in the eastern United States. It is also home of the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site, and boasts two of the first designated wilderness areas in the east. The Pisgah, Grandfather and Appalachian Ranger Districts are scattered along the eastern edge of the mountains of western North Carolina and offer visitors a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoying the natural beauty of the mountains.

hiking
15 hours ago

The view at the top was great. The first 1/2-2/3 is relatively constant incline, but flat and well cleared and marked. The last 1/3 is more rocky and the more challenging and worth it.

Thompson is a beautiful trail. The lower section is easy, but as soon as the trail turns to the right it tilts up pretty good and the going gets much tougher. You can make a nice loop out of it by going up Thompson and then turn right and go back down hill on Pilot Rock trail

Bennett Gap is a great trail. I am not sure where they get the trail data from? At the top, it ends at Avery creek road, but the map shows some sort of continuation around to the left. That is not correct. Also, it shows an elevation of 2027 feet and that is not correct. I submitted an edit that shows the correct path of Bennett Gap
Bennett gap is now a year round mountain bike trail and hiking trail. It used to be a seasonal trail only for mountain biking.
Here is a great loop if you do not want to do an out and back. Go up Bennett and take a right on Perry cove back to Avery creek road. Perry cove is a beautiful trail and very steep in places, Going down Perry is much better than going up Perry

Lengthy trek over varied terrain and through interesting, colorful flora topped off with some awesome views.

We hit the trail at 7:30am on a Tuesday morning (Summer Solstice) to try to make the peak before the overcast skies that were forecast for the afternoon. We were the second car in the parking area and we literally had the trail to ourselves all the way to the peak. Embarking up the west side of the mountain early we were low light (not quite dark) for the first half mile or so amidst the plentiful tree canopy along the Watauga.

The trail makes it way through various 'neighborhoods' of flora - thick lush rain-forests along the river and its feeding creeks, giving way to towering hardwoods, which in turn changeover to fir trees (around the spring). Along the ridge on the G'father trail the Rhododendrons were blooming so we bore happy witness to nature's show. At several points the narrow track - quite narrow at some places - was covered in deep pink petals and we had blooms from head to toe. The transitions through the varieties of plants marked our progress and brought interest to the ascent. The whole environment would be fairytale-like if not for the aural intrusions from the truck traffic from Hwy 105 cascading up to the trail.

The broad sweeping path across the western slope inclines modestly for the first 2.5 (near the spring or so) and then becomes a bit steep, climbing stairs of tumble down boulders and rocks for a third of a mile to Calloway Gap. We stopped at the vacant Cliffside camping site for a snack. From there the trek Watauga View and on to C'way Peak is relatively modest - the three ladders are all short and really not-at-all harrowing. From trail-head to top took us two 50-somethings abou 2:20.

From W-view you can see all way to Elk Knob and to several Virginia peaks to the north (and you gain an unfortunate prospect to the visual scar made by the abhorrent condo at Sugar Mountain). Keep your gaze to the north and the distant horizon west and enjoy the grand reward! Over at the C'way Peak rock outcropping the view to the east and south, even on this day of high clouds is fantastic. Table Rock, Hawksbill, and the Black Mountains are all brought into clear relief. The view of MacCrae Peak and the viaduct below was interesting - as I've been on the other end of that latter visage a number of times. Bother view areas are rather small and would only accommodate a handful of visitors simultaneously- but we had no company until we were ready to move on. We were joined by a solo hiker fro FL along with his sweet dog - still not sure how he navigated the ladders.

We decided to head south on the G'father trail past the profile trail intersection for about 0.6 mile. That section had us scrambling up a rock face and ledge - providing more views to the west and straight down for several hundred feet at few overlook spots. Careful attentive steps made it all relatively easily navigable. We stopped short of making the climb to the 'attic window' and turned back for our descent. The absence of signage on this section didn't help us know how far we'd come or how far we had to go.

As always the walk down feels longer than the hike up. On the way down there were lots of folks, of all-stripes, including several trail-runners (wow!) making their way up. The parking lot was nearly full when we returned to our car. It feels good to see so many getting out and enjoying nature in such a beautiful place.

Following our ~8.2 mile trek we made a short drive over to Banner Elk for some refreshments at Flat Top Brewing, a nice way to toast a great hike. On our drive back it appeared that the peaks were shrouded, at least partially, in clouds - which made us thankful for our early start.

I look forward to hitting this trail again, perhaps heading over to MacCrae.

trail running
1 day ago

Nice, easy trail for a good run. Went left to right as to go up the steeper side of the trail. Once you come to the Art Loeb trail fork, it levels out into a fun bit of small ups and downs with some sharp turns. No look out points along this trail so it's a good one to keep a strong pace.

hiking
2 days ago

I gave this hike a one star because the trail isn't marked. We ended up going 2 miles off course and even with gps on, we still couldn't find the loop. When you come to Big Ivy at the end of Walker Creek, there is no sign pointing you in a direction. We ended up getting on Big Ivy Road, turning right, following that awhile and hooked up on stair creek trail for the decent down. On the decent down, there were a couple of trails off Stair Creek, but again they weren't marked and it's anyone's guess where those go.
As far as difficulty and technicality, the trail definitely had
some good climbs up without switchbacks. The decent down on Stair Creek was straight down, no switchbacks and rocky, so it was technical. Also, this is a horse trail as well, so there's plenty of manure on the trail. There wasn't a good view or waterfall to make this trail worth the trouble. Pass this one up and continue on to Brevard.

This is especially beautiful in end of June

Pretty rigorous with a relatively constant incline. We finished the trail (out and back) in 3 hrs and 40 minutes. The view was spectacular and the air at the top was delightful.

Overestimate the amount of water you will need!! Trust us, especially if you're going in the summer you'll sweat out most of what you consume