Doughton Recreation Area Loop is a 16.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Abshers, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is only recommended for very experienced adventurers and primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and birding. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
This Doughton Loop starts at the parking area on Longbottom Road. You will cross the road and start out on the trail. You will take a right on the Cedar Ridge Trail and follow it for 4.3 miles as it ascends to the Blue Ridge Parkway. You will connect at that point with the Mountains to Sea Trail (also known as the Bluff Mountain Trail). You will stay on this trail for 7 miles enjoying many gorgeous views along the way. Once you arrive at the Basin Cove Overlook, you will head down the mountain on the Flat Rock Ridge Trail for 5 miles. At the end of Flat Rock Ridge Trail, you will have completed the loop by returning to your vehicle. This is a strenuous trail due to distance and elevation gain, but it is a very enjoyable dayhike if you want to push the limits. There is also a primitive campsite 1.7 miles from the start of this loop. There is a campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway as well, but it is only open during the Spring through Fall months.
Definitely a challenging great day hike, we did this in May, when the Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurel were starting to bloom. Cedar Ridge is a great uphill and we took a peek inside the Brinegar Cabin. Bluff Mountain trail is a bunch of ups and downs with several good views, hiking in open meadows, plus a nice shelter and some really nice views at Wildcat Rocks Overlook. Sorry to see they have closed Doughton Park visitor center and lodge. Only con about this hike was going down the Flat Rock Ridge trail which was COVERED in spider webs - luckily we had hiking poles we could hold up in front of us to take most of the webs out of the way [sticks will work too]. You can also take the Primitive Trail down which cuts off a couple of miles. As we arrived back at the parking lot on Longbottom Rd, we got hit with a short downpour, but got back in the car quickly. Overall an excellent tour of Doughton Park.