Harper Creek, Raider Camp, and Yellow Buck Mountain Trail Loop

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Pisgah National Forest

Harper Creek, Raider Camp, and Yellow Buck Mountain Trail Loop is a 11.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Collettsville, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 11.6 miles Elevation Gain: 2,250 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly




nature trips


bird watching



wild flowers


There are several creek crossings on this trail.

We unfortunately couldn’t finish the trail. The first three miles is clearly marked and a great home but once you cross the river you get to the camp site and there is no clear trail. I try to just follow the map but it was so grown up there was no way to through with two dogs. Maybe if it was just me i could have worked my way through it.

8 months ago

So I only did a fourth of the loop clockwise direction then returned the same way. Considered it moderate. Started too late in the day. Will return sometime to go the falls and do entire loop. I probably did about half distance wise that I would have done if just did the loop but started too late. Spent about three hours out there but at least an hour was just enjoying the Creek where you have to change shoes to cross. Also lots of places you could camp. First quarter mile is uphill and a little tough but overall moderate and mostly easy after that beginning.

over grown
9 months ago

First I have to say that the people who called it confusing were not lying at all. It will only get worse every year as this trail is no longer an official part of the Pisgah national forest, and the upkeep is now on us...When you get to the hairpin turn (about 20% in, starting on harper trail) you may have a hard time finding an opening. I did, so I found a route along the creek and left flagging tape. After this point its very overgrown, worth taking your time. I dont think many people go on from here, I went on a sunday and saw no hikers beyond this point. Lost my extra water bottle and knew I wouldnt make it through yellow buck without it. Camped at the South Falls on a flat rock and returned the next day. Dont drink the water coming out of the mountain.

Thu May 23 2019

Bring a map! following the dots means nothing without knowing which trails they correlate too! I followed the white dot at the entrance to all 3 trails and ended up getting so confused and when blue, orange and yellow we're introduced. I had to back track 14 miles in one day and thankfully made it to my car. The trails and camping spots are beautiful but on the second day I couldn't have cared less, I just wanted to get home safely. Side note, there are a TON of river crossings so be prepared with some rugged water hikers. All in all I learned that I needed to be better prepared and do my research on the trail aside from this app, I'm probably going to purchase a gps watch with and inreach or some other emergency device (because staring at your phone with <20% battery life even after it was on battery saving mode induces immediate panic attacks. Thanks for the learning curve! Happy hiking.

Mon Sep 24 2018

We had intended to do the raiders camp portion but decided to stay on harpers creek to connect with yellow buck mainly because of the amount of creek crossings. Harpers creek has 8+ significant creek crossings. Not a hop and a skip. More like “time to break the water shoes...again...” I love playing in the water and a major crossing here and there is fine, but hiking a quarter mile and changing shoes again and again gets old fast. Yellow buck kicked our butts! Granted everything was still in a state of disarray due to hurricane Florence the week prior, the trail had been cut into deeply by the water from the storm. Taking 2-3’ high steps on an already intense incline was simply not enjoyable. Personally I’d stick with hiking around harpers creek. Plenty of views and TONS of great camping sites.

Fri May 25 2018

My oldest son and I had been planning a trip to this area for some time. It is a beautiful place, however, trail markings were not very clear. Where we went wrong was thinking we were at the Harper creek trailhead but actually started out on an abandoned forest service trail. Lots of blow downs causing us to make extremely slow progress. After finding the trail we camped along Harpers Creek the first night. Second day was spent heading toward South Harpers creek falls but after lunch it began raining pretty hard forcing us to call it quits a day early. We had concerns over the streams rising. We had already experience two or three major crossings in knee deep water and did not want to risk being stranded due to upland rain coming through the valley. Extremely rough going, but a trip to definitely remember.

Tue May 15 2018

Backpacked the loop and camped for 2 nights along the trail. Several great camping spots with fire rings, most along the river for easy water access. I will say, there are several spots we had to pull out our map because there are several forks that are not well marked. Definitely make sure you’re looking for the color coded blazes, and look for the pink flagging to see where to cross the creek. GET A MAP BEFOREHAND!! Lots of roots and stumps to trip on so watch your footing!

Thu May 10 2018

this trail doesn't exist in the Wilson Creek or WNC trail maps, the map seems to be a combination of yellow buck, harpers creek and raiders camp. That being said i love this area and these trails. but...stop at the visitor center, get a real map, have the right info and a plan before you go out. then go out and get lost proper lol.

Sun Apr 29 2018

I need to mention that the directions on this trail description are not correct. If you do choose to come in via the Blue Ridge Parkway,,, you will not turn right onto SR464. You will actually turn left onto SR464. You will know this road because it has a small church at this junction. Long Ridge Baptist Church. If you are approaching this area on Hwy 181 from Morganton,, you do not need to go all the way to the Parkway,, but instead when you reach Jonas Ridge,, make a right onto Mortimer Road,, which happens to be SR1518, and right across the road from the Marathon station, go about 2 miles and then right onto SR464. Hope this helps someone not add extra miles onto their navigation as I did.. You will likely not have the benefit of a phone signal for gps navigation. Great trail,, Beautiful waterfall, great camping spots. Enjoy!

Sun Jun 04 2017

Spectacular views

Mon May 29 2017

Hiked entire loop c my 12 yo daughter. Fabulous hike...beautiful. It went way faster than I had initial impression. Had a big thunderstorm drop lots of rain that made creek crossing fun for a boater, horrifying for non-water people. Takeaway points: 1) GPS exquisitely helpful or good map skills, 2) whoever is leaving flags on the trees kudos 3) as a paddler the bush-whacking is pretty easy and stream crossing is a definite possibility if it rains in the watershed. That being said I can see how people could be overwhelmed pretty easily at some spots. Would have no issues taking our dog as long as we weren't sliding down the second slide at Harpers as a diversion ...that is steep, slick, and my dog can't climb ropes(though her backpack harness would work fine)

9 months ago

Thu Apr 18 2019

Sat Jul 14 2018

Fri Mar 30 2018