354 Trace Ridge and 600 Spencer Gap Loop

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Pisgah National Forest

354 Trace Ridge and 600 Spencer Gap Loop is a 6.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Mills River, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, bird watching, and mountain biking and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 6.5 miles Elevation Gain: 1,292 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

mountain biking

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Be conscious of bikers.

hiking
10 months ago

I followed the driving directions from Google maps. I went up and up on a long horrible dirt/gravel (but mostly full of holes and large rocks) "road". My maps announced "you have arrived". However, there was no where to park and no signs indicating any kind of trail. Had to keep driving a bit before I found a wide enough part in the road to inch my car back and forth to turn it around. I drove back down to a parking lot that said $4 fee. I walked around a bit just to let my dog out before heading back home very disappointed.

hiking
11 months ago

This is a good 3-4 hour hike with solid elevation and plenty to see, including black bears. However, the trail is actually around 8 miles not 6.5, at least according to our apple watches. The trail map does not indicate the several switchbacks between miles 3 & 4 on the trail map, which might be part of the discrepancy. It took us right at 3 hours doing a 22minute-mile pace, with a brief snack at the peak. Also, the trail is not clearly marked in several spots, particularly around mile 4.2, where it intersects another trail between two stream crossings (NB: bring shoes that can get wet). Then again at the resevoir, the trail splits (high/low), but there is no indication that either path will bring you to the same spot (the question you need to ask is, do you want to see the giant waterfall and picturesque water or not! ... if yes, take the low road).

hiking
Sun Apr 28 2019

I took shut-in north and then the 3 Humps trail out which was lovely. then an unnamed loop trail back to the BRP which was not marked and not maintained. Quiet, but rough hiking on the way back.

Wed Sep 19 2018

Easy. Typical mountain trail. Secluded river arena. No exceptional vistas.

hiking
Sat Jul 21 2018

nice hike. no good views. went right to start up trace ridge finished on fletcher creek and reservoir road to get 8.5 miles. not to difficult but rough and rocky

hiking
Tue May 15 2018

See also: Coffee Pot Mountain Loop Trail for more reviews and recordings. The name of this trail in particular makes more sense, since it actually uses the trail names in the title. You are indeed walking around the base of coffee pot mountain though on the second half. Note that when facing the sign in the parking area with the enlarged maps and info, the trail head will be behind you. The trail head to the left of the sign (if you're looking at it) is also named Trace Ridge, but it takes you into a totally different area to the south, intersecting with Wash Creek Trail. There are two paths for the Coffee Pot Mountain Loop: The way in, and the way out. The gravel road with the barrier gate will be the way you'll come out at the end, which is to the left if facing both paths. Take the path to the right that appears to go uphill. That's the way in for this particular route, unless you'd like to take it backwards of course. The first 1/3 of the hike has all the incline, as shown on the elevation map. There are short spurts of technical, rocky, narrow areas that bring you up along Trace Ridge north toward the Blue Ridge Parkway. Note that I'm not an athlete, but have been getting in shape for hikes and the incline portion of this trail was a great workout. There were awesome level terrain zones to give breaks and breathers between the incline zones, which is why the trail is rated as moderate. Keep your shoes tight, because the rocks and terrain are loose in some spots. The trail in general on this northern trek is quite narrow indeed, surrounded by mountain laurel, and there were lots of spider webs (carry a stick and wave it in front lol). The sign at the northern end that splits toward the Blue Ridge Parkway was clearly marked. We didn't go that route, but easy enough to navigate if you want to add a view to your hike. You can hear the parkway traffic in this area and as you head back south into the next part of the loop. This is where the route changes to Spencer Gap with yellow blazes. Traffic fades as you go down by the water. The descent as you head south is quite gradual and very enjoyable. Do not take the red blazes or the blue blazes unless you want to change up the route. Look at the map before you go and take one with you, because there are quite a few intersections. One intersection in particular was confusing when it came to a gravel road. Look across the road, and slightly to the right, the trail continues on south with yellow markings and a sign with Spencer on it (might say Spencer Gap or Spencer Branch). There were many many water crossings, and after the first one I saw I walked barefoot for a few miles. Some crossings were definitely too deep for shoes or boots. I'll bring water shoes next time for sure. It was so great to cool off in the creek on a hot day. Made the hike so rewarding! Anyway I know this was a long review, but I hope it helps someone. Walking along the creek was my favorite part of the trail, since it was filled with wonderful smells and sounds with refreshing breaks. :D

Sun Aug 24 2014

Trail is moderate with only one technical point. Nice down hill flow on Eastern 1/3 of trail.

hiking
19 days ago

mountain biking
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
Sat Mar 30 2019