DISTANCE
20.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4475 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

nature trips

off road driving

walking

views

backpacking
1 month ago

Absolutely gorgeous loop, but some clearly hasn't been maintained in a long time. We went clockwise.

The first four miles up to the top of Fiske Peak are in great shape and moderately trafficked. There is a trail register in a box at the top near the survey marker.

From there, the trail gets pretty overgrown for the next four or so miles. Definitely wear long sleeves and pants to prevent getting scraped up, and keep an eye on the map on your phone to make sure you're still on track. We were able to follow a set of horse tracks. There were some small springs on the ridge around mile 6-7, but I don't think I'd want to rely on them.

At about mile 8 the trail comes out on what used to be a parking area for the south end of the blue ridge trail. It would be difficult for even a dirt bike to get up there, so we tented there for the night. The trail then follows the old dirt roads down into the valley. At the low elevation point before heading back up onto the ridge there is a short spur to a clearing with a concrete(?) picnic table and fire pit, totally covered in grass. Shortly after that is the trailhead for the Fiske Creek Trail, which goes pretty much down the middle of this loop.

As the trail goes back up to the ridge the road is in better and better shape (less overgrown, less eroded, fewer rocks fallen into it, more evidence of recent traffic.) Around mile 16 or so there is a small pond, apparently called Fiske Lake, that is probably a year-round water source (treat/filter, obviously.) Half a mile after the lake is a four-way intersection with other dirt roads. This area seems to get a bit of traffic. Take the rightmost road.

The rest of the walk is a gentle downhill and quite pleasant.

Overall, stunning views along the ridge lines, but badly in need of maintenance. Maybe next time I go out I'll bring some loppers.