Fires Creek Rim Trail is a 24.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Hayesville, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. 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: 24.9 miles Elevation Gain: 7,703 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

over grown

rocky

washed out

From Hayesville, NC go 5 miles on US 64W. Turn right on NC 175 for 2.5 miles, left on SR 1344 for two miles.

backpacking
blowdown
off trail
2 months ago

Starting from Fires Creek Picnic area and trraveling counter clockwise the trail disappears into a large blow down area right after Tusquitee Bald. I bushwhacked for a mile or so with no luck of regaining the route and had to turn back to find camp before dark. I will definitely be coming back once the trail has been cleaned up.

hiking
blowdown
over grown
7 months ago

Hiked 10/18/19. I have it at about 27 miles. There has been some recent trail maintenance to clean up some of the worst sections mentioned in other reviews. Still expect some fallen trees and lots of briars. Glad I brought a small folding saw to do some maintenance of my own - mainly on the briars overhanging the trail. I enjoyed the seclusion that this trail offered and the added difficulty that came with navigating it at times. It is definitely steep in many sections so don’t expect much relief from switchbacks. I spent the night on Tusquitee Bald (space for 1 small tent up top) and found water at the creek (very low flow) a few minutes down Far Spring trail.

hiking
7 months ago

I find it strange the other option at this location is not mentioned on All Trails. I’m guessing the review saying it’s easy and heavily shaded was for the “loop” trail by Leatherwood Falls, and not Fire Rim. 4 of us (ages late 50’s to 80) did this loop today. About 1 ½ miles total (if that), the trail takes off across the bridge, then goes to the left, (#73 I think), follows the creek (Fire Creek?) and eventually comes back down on dirt trail with roots to the road we drove in on, then comes back in at the parking lot for the picnic area. National Forest park has a basic restroom/pit toilet. There were a lot of fishermen here when we arrived, so it must be great for fly fishing. Easy to get down to the creek for playing in the water at the picnic area, but the loop trail does take you to the top of the waterfall and it’s possible to get in the water - but there are warning signs “Severe injuries/death has occurred here” I can see how it could be dangerous conditions if the water is high and rushing due to a steep drop off/slide. Today’s water level was barely a trickle due to the dry conditions we’ve had here lately.. I’m sure this is very busy in the summer.

hiking
7 months ago

Did 13 creek crossings on this weekend 1.5mile adventure! So fun but watch for snakes and bring bug spray!

hiking
8 months ago

Very shaded, easy trail. Venture along the waterfall to the top. Very nice. Heavy weekend traffic.

backpacking
blowdown
off trail
over grown
scramble
11 months ago

This is a great hike, and one day it will be a great hike again. But it is not a great hike as of June 2019. The majority of this loop (22-24 miles of the 27.6 we measured) is fairly in line with previous reviews: overgrown, hard to follow at times, water is a challenge to source- this was all fun for us. While it is blazed at times, these conditions make this route very much a Wilderness area trail vs. maintained forest service trail. Prepare accordingly and bring a GPS to keep you on track, although if you are accustomed to backcountry wayfinding the lack and blazes and hard to follow path aren’t hard. In terms of being overgrown, various sections from FS Road 6178 all the way through Sassafras Knob are the real thick areas… wearing pants is a good idea. The 11ish miles from Far Springs Bald to the picnic area is very well maintained. THAT BEING SAID. The 2 miles from Sassafras Knob to Tusquitee Bald took us 3 hours to complete. A storm has hammered this ridge line. There are acres of forest just devasted along the trail. No established reroutes yet and zero maintenance. The forest is VERY thick rhododendron and rerouting means bulldozing your way through the underbrush. It is absurdly challenging for anyone not hiking with a chainsaw. Just absolute jungle. DO NOT TAKE THESE COMMENTS FOR GRANTED AS I DID REGARDLESS OF YOUR BACKCOUNTRY EXPERIENCE. This trail is super dangerous right now. We had been cruising at 2.5mph until this point, and with 14 miles behind us, the 3 hour battle it took to finish the final 1.5-2 miles from Sassafras Ridge to Tusquitee required every ounce of energy. We barely made it to the bald by dark and had to kick in to survival mode to make it before being swallowed by the jungle of downed rhodos in the dark. Oh yeah, it’s that kind of conditions right now. When and if this trail is cleared a few things that are helpful: -Hiking clockwise, there is a really nice campsite just before the FS Road along Leatherwood Branch. Great spot to break up the full hike into 2 nights. -There appeared to be a stream down in the gully once you descend a few feet off the rim trail on trail 388 at Will King Gap. It’s off trail and I didn’t go for it, but accessible. -Big Stamp: there is a great little stream down Trail 387 on your left-hand side, 20 yards off the trail. Probably a quarter mile down from the Rim Trail and 400-500 vertical feet below the rim. We filled up here. -Shinbone Ridge/Trail 80 at the County Corners campsite. This campsite and the bluff leading down to the spring has been obliterated by the storms - this is apparently the most reliable spring. I did fill up here, it’s somewhere off the Shinbone Trail just covered in downed rhodos- barely a trickle but still enough. I had to crawl through the underbrush to access it. -The spring off Tusquitee Bal at the intersection with Chunky Gal was either not running or I couldn’t find it. -There is a legitimate creek about .25mi and 500’ down the Far Bald Springs/Trail 389. Very reliable and a great place to fill up, if you are staying on Tusquitee Bald and can’t find the spring off the bald, use this one. -There are several more sources on the way from Potrock to the picnic area but we didn’t need to stop. They are all marked along the Rim Trail. -In general, bring something flexible or a little pipe to help capture cleaner water. We used a hydro flask to capture the springs’ trickles and dumped into water bottles. Very effective. The adventure, flora/fauna and challenge are worth 5 starts. Once this trail is cleared it will be a 5 star trip easily. Until then... a rating can't apply?

hiking
Mon May 27 2019

Carver Creek

backpacking
off trail
over grown
Thu May 23 2019

This trail needs to be closed. What is not covered with thorns is blocked by fallen trees. It is pretty obvious that no one has taken the time to care for this trail. Blue blazes are used to mark every trail in the park, making forks very confusing. Blazes are also misplaced, facing the wrong way, or placed on trees that are rotten and about to fall completely down. My hiking buddy and I lost the trail multiple times. For a large portion of the trail we slowed to less than a mile per hour due to the trees we had to climb over, crawl under, or navigate around completely. We encountered an abandoned tent littered with dry food packages that had been clawed into and eaten by animals, so a bear has received reward here, too. Put simply, this trail is dangerous and should be closed until it can be properly cleaned up.

backpacking
Tue Oct 23 2018

Lodestar has this hike well reviewed. I just got back, my partner and I lost the trail several times due to lack of blazes. no one on here mentioned that all the trails in the area are terribly marked with blue blazes so you can only trust the blazes to an extent. you need some serious navigation or time to complete this trail now compared to reviews done two years ago. seriously wish I listened to Lodestars review I probably wouldn't be in pain now. would hike again for the view.

Mon Oct 08 2018

Great spots to let kids play and loved the waterfall!

Tue Aug 14 2018

This place rocks. Fun to play / picnic by the creek at the main parking lot... or hike up in the hills. Super fun!

hiking
Fri Aug 03 2018

Great trail! Easily done with my three dogs, fantastic views and waterfalls.

backpacking
Mon Jul 16 2018

Until a proper maintenance crew decides to work on the trail past the first 5 miles from the trail head, one had better prepare for one heck of a disappointment. To begin with, every trail in the area is blazed the same color. For some reason, the crew doesn't understand that a trail more than 12 miles "should" be blazed white while spurs and intersecting trails "should" be a different color. Also, there are blazes where is's painfully obvious there is a trail but at the "balds" (which aren't) and the gaps, where the briars are head high and the trail so faint it's difficult to navigate, there are no blazes. Nada. None. There are more "Bear Sanctuary" placards than trail blazes. Water. Bring more than you think you'll need. Then bring twice that. The water sources are few and far between. Remember, you're at the top of a ridge. To get to any water it's hundreds (more than 200) meters to a POSSIBLE water source which is downhill (way down hill) from the trail. The "map" Alltrails offers doesn't mark any of them and the "reviews" posted below are less than helpful. Seriously... bring more water than you think you'll need. I'm not going to bother with the issue of the elevation gain and loss... it's a ridge run... it's expected (and one of the main reasons I went this week). However... due to the remoteness of the trail; IF/WHEN there is a medical emergency, lost/overdue hiker, etc you will be stuck in place with no help for over 24 hours. Or more. My hiking partner and I are both search and rescue technicians and know our jobs well. I may know what I'm talking about here. Other hazards include wild hogs (we had a passel of them "interact" with us out around Signal Knob), trail along the sides of hills that are overgrown and not well cut (one slip in the rain and there's a strong possibility of a serious fall or an ankle injury, massive fallen trees blocking the trail and did I mention the lack of proper blazes? Really.... unless you are a serious back-country backpacker with extremely strong navigation skills, stay off this trail. Oh, and find a better map than the one here. The actual Rim Trail leaves/reaches the ridge west of Shortoff but keep in mind that all the elevation it took you 2 days to gain is lost in less than half a day. I give this trail 5 stars not for it's beauty but for it's difficulty. Some of the other reviewers never ran this ridge, they stayed in the valley along the river.

horseback riding
Sun Apr 29 2018

We thoughly enjoyed our ride this past weekend. I would have given it 5 stars but the trails were not very well maintained. There were several places the men in our group, thankfully they were well prepared, had to clear trees from the trails. There were lots of Laurel thickets that the trail went through, we had to bend over and get off in places, but it was with it. The sites were beautiful up top. Coming down there was several places to water the horses. Camping at Bristol Fields Horse Camp was very nice. I enjoyed hearing Fires Creek all night, made for good sleeping.

hiking
Mon Jan 01 2018

Very cool trail. It have many loops and turn around points just In case you don’t want to do the whole trail. Great scenery and sit down areas

backpacking
Mon Dec 04 2017

The trail was very overgrown and caused confusion on which way the trail went. Made it all the way around just follow the blue markers. Doing this in two days was tough. Would suggest do three day hike. Not to much water on the trail.

backpacking
Tue Oct 17 2017

Tough steep difficult challenging. GREAT TRAIL!

backpacking
Wed Sep 20 2017

Did half of the loop. Started at the Fires Creek picnic area. A short hike and then nobody is around. After the first mile I didn't see another person until the next day. Stayed the night at Big Stamp. The trail was REALLY overgrown. Hard to see at times. The blue markers were a life saver. No water at all on the 1st part of the trail. When you get to Big Stamp go down the hill about 4-500 yards and you will run into the river. A great place to fill up. All in all a good hike but BRING WATER.

backpacking
Sat Jun 25 2016

Great trail except washed out bridge was not replaced and good thing water level was low or would have been dangerous to cross. Well marked with blue blazes. No animals seen but beautiful flowers

backpacking
Tue May 31 2016

Pat Helm's review below is pretty much spot on. I will say that if you are looking for beautiful vistas and views, this is not your hike. There are only a couple of these on the entire trail during the "green season". It is, however, very peaceful and quiet. Even with the "orange guide book", the water was very, very, very scarce. Getting to the sources and gathering the water was very time consuming and I would definitely bring a pump filter next time. Compared to the AT, many sections of the trail are not well-maintained. There are many confusing points on the trail where a blowdown blocks the trail. And no matter how hot it is, you're gonna need to wear long pants or suffer the wrath of constant briers scraping your legs. There are even sections where you have to walk through shoulder-high blackberry bushes. And yes, poison ivy is everywhere. If you're going to do this, don't do it without the orange guide book (amazon) and bring a GPS device. It's a good little hike, though. I finished it in one night and one day, but it could be easily done over the course of three days. And yes -- the climbs and downhill sections are pretty epic, so no beginners for this one unless you're doing super low-mileage days.

hiking
Mon May 16 2016

Initially, I did the loop in 2 days, camping on Tusquitee during a very chilly blackberry May evening. However, upon my return to the car, I discovered I'd left my glasses where I had camped and eventually day hiked back up to the bald to get them two weeks later. As a result, I've gotten a pretty good taste of doing the loop both ways. It's a challenging and in no way "moderate" trail......but it's a mighty pretty one! Just to add a little to the great reviews already here: - The most accessible water on the north rim is at the Shinbone Trail spur. Just go down about 50 yards to fill up. - When you pass through Johnson Bald, give reverence to the plane wreckage on your left. Two folks died there in '74. - If you decide to go counter-clockwise, eat a whole candy bar before starting the 6th mile. It's a relentless 1000 ft ascent straight up before reaching the 7th mile ( which is no picnic either ). Conversely, before going down ( mile 19 on a clockwise trip ), take 2 naproxens - not only is it steep, but the loose rocks make navigating the descent a slow and strenuous process. You'll be thankful you brought your trekking poles too! - For goodness sakes, wear some pants when your walking in these parts! Shorts ain't gonna do it through the briars and blow downs, not to mention poison ivy, along and ON the trail. Like others have said, this place is very remote. Of the combined 46 miles traveled on the trail, I've only seen one other person! It is truly a hidden jewel of Southern Appalachia and real privilege to have under my belt, twice!

hiking
Sat Apr 30 2016

Great trail, most of the 25 mile hike along the top of a ridgeline that once ascended is over 4000 ft. culminating at Tusquitee Bald at 5240 ft. I began at Leatherwood Falls and took the northerly route. Very few switchbacks, steep up and down with some relatively level stretches. I got a late start, if I had it to do over again, I would start early and set up camp the first night at Big Stamp, spend the second night atop Tusquitee Bald, and hike out the third day. Hikers in good shape could probably do the hike in two days, but for this 62 year old wheezer/geezer, I took 3 days, hiking out the last 2 miles in the dark using flashlights. And I was plum tuckered out. Some serious strenuous sawtooth action on the soufhern loop and before Weatherman Bald, fortunately more water to be found on the southern hike. A few great open views, a continuous view through trees of the Fires Creek basin and surrounding valleys, the cooler months with less foliage will offer better viewing. Thanks to the Mountain High Hikers Club for all the good work they have done maintaining the trail, though there was some deadfall and briers towards the midpoint and southern section. Saw a couple of bear cubs hightailing it away from my approach, grouse, hawks, signs of wild hogs everywhere, deer tracks, and 3 people in the first couple of miles, after that no one, truly a wilderness area once you hike back in there. Check on prescribed burns before you go, on the second day afternoon, I encountered one of these obnoxious procedures, between the smoke, pollen and steep terrain, the going got pretty rough. Fortunately on the third day, the wind was blowing the smoke away from me, it was a beautiful hike, one I will always remember. Also a good map is invaluable, very few of the peaks have signs. the main trail seems to bypass several of them, but there are usually side trails to the peaks. The trail itself is well-marked with blue blazes.

hiking
Thu Mar 17 2016

Trail was rough lot of limbs and trees down across trail. From picnic area up leatherwood towards Peachtree Bald

hiking
Sun Mar 06 2016

Great views in early March.

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