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Big Butt Trail

HARD 51 reviews
#4 of 23 trails in

Big Butt Trail is a 10.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Barnardsville, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 10.9 miles Elevation Gain: 3,277 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly



nature trips

bird watching



wild flowers

Directions from Burnsville, NC: Travel east on 19E for .5 mile and turn right on SR 197 (south). Stay on this road through Pensacola where the road turns to gravel. The trailhead is on the left at Cane River Gap and is marked by a forest service gate. The trail starts just before this gate on the left. No signs mark the trailhead.

23 days ago

walked this trail on January 1st 2020, temperature peaked at 46. not sure how good the view would be with leaves on the trees.. but with the trees bare we had a pretty good view of the surroundings at the top. we are semi-active and this was a pretty good workout for us. peaked the big butt summit and back to our car in roughly 3 hours.

1 month ago

biggest red spruce trees I've seen. ravens. great view of the black mountain Crest and upper cane and oh yeah, big red spruce. some nice trail work to enjoy as well.

3 months ago

Hiked up from both sides to peak and back more difficult from the 197 South start

over grown
5 months ago

7 months ago

Wouldn’t recommend this trail to anyone. I contemplated giving it one star but considering it was a good work out, i guess it wasn’t complete trash. There are very few ( if any ) views that make the amount of time and energy this trail requires worth it. A third of this hike is through knee high grass which is a hotbed for snakes. Ive never seen so many on a trail in my life. If for some reason you decide to waste your time and hike this trail, i highly suggest not bringing dogs or children. There are far to many good trails in Western Carolina to even think about stepping foot on this one.

9 months ago

hiked yesterday in 35° weather. straight up for 2 mile then plains out for 2 then up another 1.5 and the view from the peak was gorgeous. 3 hour out and back

9 months ago

moderate trail, nothing to technical, nice views

9 months ago

I found this to be a challenging, but at the same time fun trail with great views.

10 months ago

This is an amazing trail. It is straight up for miles from the moment you start. The switchbacks are well done and there’s a ton of them! The view is amazing and the vegetation is gorgeous, even in winter.

10 months ago

This was a great workout and some very interesting and beautiful views . At Big Butt summit we saw a Bald Eagle circling. I can't wait to go again when the wild flowers are in bloom .

Mon Sep 03 2018

Great hike started at walkers knob to CR gap . A really good view of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountain great view of the Wilson boundary from little Butt . There’s a grand old tree just past flat springs leaning heavily ,it’s old and tired but still standing . The tree alone is worth the hike . .

Sun Aug 26 2018

Ran this trail on a Saturday morning in late August. I arrived around 8am and mine was the only car at the Walker Knob parking area, but the place was packed when I returned 3 hours later. I found the trail quite overgrown in spots, but this may be peak summer growth, and it was exacerbated by the fact that I was running in shorts. Definitely has plenty of challenging uphill segments and varied terrain, from very rooty to wide and grassy to pine paths to constructed wooden stairs. The out and back clocked just a little bit shy of 11 miles, including the side trip up to the geodetic survey marker at the peak (pink blazes).

Sun Aug 19 2018

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

Sun Aug 19 2018

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).

Wed Jul 11 2018

I only did 6 miles (RT). I started at the Walker Knob overlook, off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take path to the Left that points in the direction of Big Butt. You will be on Big Butt Trail. In 6 miles (RT), you can ascend and descend Pt. Misery (no view), and climb to Little Butt Overlook. There is a rock outcropping with a view here. I kept going pass Little Butt overlook for another half-mile. The trail is a bit less well-maintained after Little Butt, but still very obvious for the additional half-mile that I took. When I got to 3 miles, I turned around and returned to parking lot. Nice trail. Enjoyed the hike. Ran for much of it. Do this is you want a great walk in the woods. Trail has lots of steps--see photos.

Sat Apr 21 2018

We started at the Blue Ridge Parkway turnoff for Walkers Overlook. Bit confusing as no actual overlook, just trees. Trail was well marked, one place a tree had fallen but after a second we found a trodden route around. Perfectly spaced, new-looking stairs. We stopped at the summit of Big Butt as another reviewer explained, the path was marked with pink blazes and clear. The trip back was a lot easier than the way up except for going up Misery Point which we counted only 8 switchbacks after preparing mentally for 10, so not too bad. Only saw one other person on a Friday. Good workout on the hills and amazing clear day with long views through mostly bare trees, birds circling, and early spring flowers.

Wed Jan 03 2018

It’s a workout. You’ll leave tired. Pretty area.

Tue Sep 19 2017

My favorite hike so far in NC!

Fri Jan 06 2017

We hiked up from Cane River Gal and only went about 6.6 of the trail round trip because of a late start. A beautiful frosty day in January before the first ridiculously late snows of the season. A great trail and cardiovascular work out. We stopped just shy of the hill around Bug Butt and walked into the woods finding a spring head and draw that leads to Indian Fork River.

Tue Oct 11 2016

Not so bad on the way in, but coming back is no joke, be sure to hydrate (a lot) thighs started cramping every 15 min or so coming back up the mountain.

Sun Sep 25 2016

If you are just looking for great views, stop at the over look. If you want a great hike through the woods that will make your leg burn, go to the end. Beware, the end is a service road

Sun May 15 2016

Great trail. The first 2 miles are difficult then it opens up to amazing views! Great day hike.

Mon May 09 2016

Great hike, good views, lots of climbing.

Mon Oct 12 2015

Grate trail has a little of everything..

Sun Apr 12 2015

This is a great hike. Its only strenuous in certain parts, around misery point. If you want to get to the NPS marker, there is a spur trail to the left just before big butt, about a quarter mile. The trail (to the marker) is overgrown, not really a trail and not blazed. The view from big butt is not as good as the one from little butt, but worth the trek to get to the NPS marker area.

Wed Oct 29 2014

great hike, and some great views. Enter the parkway for easier access to the views. The other entry point has a pretty tough climb

Thu Oct 16 2014

great hike great views

Mon Mar 10 2014

Easy access either from Asheville area or Burnsville. Trailhead is well marked and only one other hiker today. A little hazy so not the greatest views, but gorgeous day for a hike. Nice easy climb up and then levels off for a bit. Didn't make it all the way to the Parkway, but plan to come in from that direction next time. Love the variation of this trail. Will definitely do again.

Thu Nov 29 2012

Beautiful trail, almost 9 miles to Point Misery and back, quite a bit more than 600 ft elevation change. Pretty views when leaves off the trees. July and August can have a lot of big nettle, may need long pants and sleeves.

Sun Apr 01 2012

Great trail for day hiking where you still get the feeling of being deep in the woods. No road noise and no people. Great views of Mt michell and the entire Black Mountain Crest. Ridge walk that breaks away steeply on both sides gives a good feel for the elevation and lots of views with the leaves still off the trees. Several of the miles on this trail have the uniqe, high elevation characteristics-- not just the typical path in the woods. There is a nice spring on the switchback just below the summit of Big Butt that would make an adequate water source.

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