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Hickey Fork Trail to White Oak Flats Trail Loop

HARD 26 reviews
#35 of 140 trails in

Hickey Fork Trail to White Oak Flats Trail Loop is a 6.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Marshall, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 6.8 miles Elevation Gain: 1,922 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

forest

views

waterfall

wildlife

blowdown

rocky

Users have reported that this area is not well marked, and not well maintained. Make sure to download your map ahead of time! Loop hike in the Shelton Laurel Backcountry Area with lots of water features and views. Steep up and downs on both sides of the loop.

hiking
muddy
off trail
7 days ago

If you like a challenging ascent and easy descent, I recommend going clockwise. I went counter clockwise and while it was nice to end with the waterfalls, the muddy, steep downhill made the end difficult. Ending with the gravel road would have made the hike more enjoyable. Also, a lot of growth around the falls made it difficult to stop and enjoy the view.

Did a 3 mile out and back to Hickey Fork Falls. Excellent hike for the family, just challenging enough with an 8 and 4 year old. Nice waterfall at the end, a bit of a scramble off the side of the trail to get down to it though.

hiking
30 days ago

We had awesome time on Hickey Fork trail. Weather was surprisingly good (between Christmas and New Year) , and not overgrown what so ever. There are couple of beautiful campsites available along the trail.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
over grown
rocky
3 months ago

hiking
over grown
6 months ago

This was a nice trail for sure. Great mileage, great work out, beautiful place. I will be back in the winter. They actually do have this trail quite well marked. However a whole lot of the trail is covered in stinging nettle so beware because that freaking hurts.. That was not enjoyable. We followed the awesomely detailed review by the last person but did the trail clockwise. We were planning on backpacking for one of our dogs first trips but ended up just walking back to the car because the spot you can drive to on the road was basically just an overgrown way too sunny field. We will totally be back though but it’s a better car camping spot. We were hoping for one of the other spots mentioned but did not find it. Probably too overgrown now. There were campfire rings at the two turns for the trails though.

hiking
8 months ago

This is a hard trail. There is a lot of elevation gain/loss over a relatively short distance. It is beautiful though and worth the work. It is very lightly trafficked, and that is a solid win in my book. I only saw a group of 3 people on the trail on a weekend. This is a primitive area, not a national forest, so don’t expect the trails to be wide and always clearly marked with blazes. Where I had the most trouble were intersections. The trail (May 2019) is fairly well maintained. It looked like maintenance had recently been done. I only came across two trees on the trail. One was small and easy to get under, the other large and easy to get over. I did the loop counter-clockwise. I wanted to spread the elevation gain over a longer distance to save my legs. The next time I go I plan to do it clockwise. The all trails map does not make it clear where the Hickory Fork Trail starts. I was going down the hill directly across from parking and trying to find it. From parking, go right on the road and through the gate. The trailhead is on the left about 25 yards past the gate. It is marked with a post. If you are going to do the loop counter-clockwise – just continue up the road for 2.2 miles. If you choose to go counter-clockwise, here are some tips: -From the parking area, you will continue up the gravel road you came in on for 2.2 miles. That leads to the White Oak Flats Trailhead. It is not a bad walk. - At the White Oaks Flats trailhead (blue rectangular blaze), there is a small stream deep enough to get water if you need. - To the right of this trailhead there is a decent primitive car camping area in a small clearing across the stream. You can drive across the stream to get to it. - At about 4.2 miles in (from the parking area) there is a decent creek for water. I crossed a few smaller ones before but not deep enough to easily scoop water into my filter. - At about 4.3 miles in the trail flattens out and there is an area that is suitable for pitching a tent. You are very near peak elevation at this point too. - After you reach the top and start down, at about 4.7 miles, you’ll come to Pounding Mill Trail (yellow rectangular blaze), this is part of the loop. Hang a left and continue down. I didn’t see a single blaze for this trail on any trees, but it is well established and no chance of getting off it. - At about 5.4 miles in you’ll hang a left onto Hickory Fork Trail (also a yellow blaze). This is also a suitable place to pitch a tent. Multiple trails converge in this area. - The largest waterfall on the loop is at about mile 6.6, again this is assuming you are doing it counter-clockwise.

Okay so a few things. First of all, we did go during the “off-season,” in February, so we didn’t expect the trail to be in tip-top condition, or expect an easy hike because it is rated as “hard/most difficult.” However, there were multiple trees (the leafy parts, not just the trunk) completely blocking the trail that had to be navigated around by going well off-trail. Also, the trail is not very well marked at points, notably about 4.4 miles in at the ridge. Even the original recording shown in the map shows the hiker going off-trail for about half a mile and doubling back. This is because the trail for a while up to this point is nice and wide, but cuts off to the right and abruptly becomes narrow, which wouldn’t be an issue but the nice wide original trail continues on past this point, very slowly becoming less trail and more woods, until you’re just standing in the middle of the woods realizing you haven’t seen a trail marker in a while. This is not the only time this happened, there were 2-3 other times which we were unsure of which way to go. I would highly recommend checking the trail map very regularly during this hike so as not to take a wrong turn, and give yourself PLENTY of time so as not to get caught in the darkness on this oft-confusing trail. On a positive note, the waterfall was gorgeous! As at least one other has said: getting to the base is quite difficult, requiring you to climb down a very steep 15-feet or so, but if you are agile I would highly recommend the attempt as it is well worth it.

Mon Oct 01 2018

Great Hike. Has some steep uphills sections however the downhill makes up for it. Nice waterfall. Trail can be slightly tricky at times to follow wouldn’t recommend for novice hikes without good GPS.

backpacking
Sun Aug 26 2018

Hickey Fork Trail to Pounding Mill Trail to White Oak Trail. 2093ft elevation gain and we met a couple of friends, we were carrying 35lb packs give or take. Only 8.7 miles but the hardest hike we have ever completed with tons of deadfall and alot of overgrown areas along with steep ascents and descents. Lots of water on the mountain, beautiful stream and falls on the way up. In comparison Mt. Mitchell was technical but this was just plain hard. Straight up, then a little without elevation gain on the ridge then, what goes up, must come down....have no intention of doing this one again. Trail marked from most difficult to more difficult back to most difficult. No lies here..... Three stars due to overgrown and deadfall. Hard is hard and I don't discount stars for that.

hiking
Sun Apr 02 2017

This is a very quiet hike even in weekends. I had no energy to walk the whole loop therefore I made an easy way partial track (see my recording). Essentially i visited the great waterfall and then above it until it became very steep. Then I returned to the parking area and went up on the road a bit to see this part of the loop. This is a nice place to visit and hard to get to the bottom of the waterfall, but worth it.

backpacking
Tue Jan 03 2017

Great hike for either a long day or a good overnight . Hickey Fork trail follows the stream up the mountain. Several nice waterfalls areas and a long natural rock slide to see . Uses the Pounding mill trail to connect to the Whiteoak flats trail which is fairly overgrown in places . It's a steep going down as the hickey fork is coming up . . Plenty of water in winter time.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
Wed Aug 01 2018

hiking
Sun Jul 29 2018

hiking
Sat Jul 07 2018

hiking
Wed Jan 31 2018

hiking
Wed Aug 02 2017