West Ridge Trail to Little Piney

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Pisgah National Forest

West Ridge Trail to Little Piney is a 3.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Black Mountain, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 3.5 miles Elevation Gain: 1,492 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly


nature trips

bird watching



wild flowers


This loop offers a steep climb up to the ridge with gorgeous views. The trail connects with West Ridge Trail and Big Piney Trail.

9 days ago

Didn't actually do the loop as a bum knee had me worried based off of previous reviews. we started out counter-clockwise at the trail head off of the gravel road. Stopped to rest at Rattlesnake Rock lookout briefly, then took a right on the ridge trail to Forked Ridge Knob, then turned around. Total was about 5 miles and moderate overall. Used poles on the downhill only b/c of a bum knee- if you're healthy you won't need them. Not a lot of views, but for a solid workout and time spent in nature, this is great. Will be back to do more of the other trails!

A lot of leafs. BRING WATER.

3 months ago

Beautiful views. Strenuous for a mediocre hikers however we finished right at 3 hours and 30 minutes moving time. We stopped at the top and set up our hammocks and relaxed. Definitely recommend having hiking shoes or boots.

3 months ago

If anyone found a brown and pink mitten and a black and white winter headband coming down the Little Piney trail, I'd be so grateful to know about it! (belonged to my Mom ). calliaelise@gmail.com Thanks!! Have fun wandering!

4 months ago

Well well well... If you’re looking to get your heart rate up this hike’s for you! A wonderful and exhilarating climb clockwise. We read the other reviews but chose this direction to avoid severe knee impact on the way down! And as noted, poles are a must! Not many vistas along the ridge but the descent was lovely. Vibrant mossy lined channel with plenty of pine needles. Watch where you park to make sure you don’t end up a long way from your car at the end. Great hike but only 4 stars due to lack of vistas.

4 months ago

The vertical gain on this trail when going clockwise rivals some of the most challenging trails I have done in Utah. It was impressive and refreshing to find a trail like this in these mountains! Very challenging and worth the effort. If you are looking for a steep challenge, this trail is for you. The descent is winding, lovely, and very runnable.

5 months ago

INTENSE climb if you go clockwise. Leaves made it that much harder but the views at rattlesnake rock are amazing. Spent about half an hour enjoying the views as the sun broke free from the clouds and lit the top of the mountains. On the way down, we realized the counter clockwise way would be easier, especially if you were going just for the look out. Great trail!

First half of hike is no joke, steep uphill, I’m glad we brought our polls. At both peaks there is not much of a view, but about 5 minutes after the second peak there is a beautiful overlook, after that is all downhill. We went in the middle of November so there was a substantial amount of leaves on the ground, making the hike slippery on the steep up and downhills. Overall it was great exercise with beautiful scenery.

6 months ago

This trail is hard, bring hiking poles

7 months ago

Better do your stretches. Tough trail. You could do it backwards from little piney up to rattlesnake rock to get the view in less distance and effort, but I really liked the workout. Very steep and rocky.

10 months ago

Fun trail. Too steep for stroller types but fine for hikers. Trekking poles were useful, but I still fell once. Saw a total of 5 other hikers.

Sat Apr 06 2019


Sun Mar 24 2019

Definitely challenging but well worth the work!

Tue Oct 30 2018

We did this trail counterclockwise. We found the trail easy to follow and pretty well marked (the exception being coming off Little Piney). The uphill was challenging but enjoyable, while the downhill coming off of Little Piney wasn't so fun, somewhat painful actually. Very steep and slippery. You definitely want trekking poles for this hike. Warning 1: a couple places along the ridge trail from Big Piney to Little Piney some trees had fallen across the trail. It almost appears that the trail disappears. You have to look carefully to see where the trail picks up again after the downed trees. Warning 2: We came across signs for "Lower" Piney. Not paying close attention, I mistook it for "Little" Piney and followed it right to another trailhead/parking area on Suwanee Drive. If my GPS were accurate, I don't think I would have made that mistake.

Sat Oct 27 2018

We started out from somewhere on Harmony Lane. Map sucks, as we ended up walking up the street to what appeared to be a circular water tower. No trail here. Walked back down to a gate with a blue trail marker and a gravel road. Pulled up the All Trails map and is said we were on the correct trail? Great first part of the hike, following blue blazes and I think it was called Little Piney. Enjoyable hike, came to a nice rock overlook outcropping looking out over Montreat/Black Mountain after about 20 minutes. Trail starts to climb from here and eventually you get your choice of blue or orange blazes. Orange was Big Piney trail, which again kept us on the All Trails map. Some steep, rocky climbs, amd trail well marked. After another hour or so of climbing with some stops we came to Rattlesnake overlook. Beautiful. Up we went from there, another 30 minutes to trail intersection. We too Grey blazes back down the trail, hoping to end up back around where we started, but this is where the trail just ended. 10 minutes into the Grey blaze section the trail just ended, no blazes, no discernible trail. I bushwacked my around for a bit a d though seeing trees with orange spray paint there was no trail?? WTF. This is not a safe practice for a trail, maintain the trail or close this portion at the cutoff. We ended up trekking back the way we came, pissed off our trail was not marked properly. Thus the 3 rating.

Tue Oct 09 2018

Beautiful and tranquil. We only passed a couple of other hikers. Trail is well-marked and pretty well-maintained, though narrow. Quite steep both ways - great exercise going up but lots of slippery spots coming down... It felt like there should be more switchbacks. At the peak of Big Piney there is no viewpoint, which felt anti-climactic, though there are some other points to snag views along the way.

Tue Oct 02 2018

Enjoyable hike. Previous comments about slipperiness were not exaggerated. If I do this hike again, I will go up Stompin Knob trail instead of down. I think the footing was better for going down the Big Piney trail. Either way is a good workout. Lots of mushrooms and there are still wildflowers.

Thu Sep 06 2018

A good butt kicker...still feeling it almost 2 days later....Straight up and straight back down... I brought my 2 dogs.. make sure your dogs are athletic

Fri Jul 13 2018

It’s a great hike if you like a challenge. The trail was wet which made it pretty hard, harder than when it’s dry. It’s quite a steep climb and the descent is challenging. I would have rated it 5 stars probably if it was dry. Lots of wild life.

Mon May 28 2018

Good hike with manageable incline and decline. With intermittent rest stops we completed loop in 2 hours.

Sun Mar 11 2018

Good steep incline starting NW from trail info box on Harmony Lane (that leg actually called Stomping Knob Trail), then along the ridge has nice views especially with winter and foliage down. Rattlesnake Rock looks back across valley to Black Mountain. Easy access for a short day hike.

Sun Feb 18 2018

Well marked. Reviews were very helpful - if you start on blue trail marks, and follow big piney, then take the southbound ridge to complete the loop. Steady up hill to big piney and then past that to the ridge intersection. We thought the trail was more moderate but probably depends on how much you hike. Overall very enjoyable even though we went when It was foggy and a bit rainy. Great for a 3 hour little burner

Mon Dec 18 2017

Slippery leaves on the way down. But good, steep hike which tops two hills. About 1:40 if you do not stop along the way.

Sat Nov 18 2017

Steep climb, but worth every drop of sweat. The view is breathtaking.

Fri Oct 20 2017

This trail was a great workout. With multiple overlook stops, a picnic, and a tree climb we completed the hike in 3 1/2 hrs. Loved it

Sun Oct 15 2017

This is a solid hike with steep ascents and descents, a good workout. My wife, myself, and our two leashed dogs stopped off to hike this trail on our way to Asheville with the intent of killing some time until our cabin was available. It was harder than expected, but overall we enjoyed it. We hiked up to Big Piney, then down the west ridge trail, southbound. Make sure you hike down west ridge southbound to complete this loop (not northbound). Little Piney is marked with a blue diamond blaze and West Ridge trail with a yellow diamond blaze. I'm glad I brought my trek poles for the west ridge southbound descent trail. It is October and the leaves can create a slippery surface. Overall a great day hike. I would estimate that most experienced hikers could complete within 3-4 hours.

Fri Sep 29 2017

Had a bit of fun with these trails. Pulling in to find the Lower Piney trailhead (demarcated by blue diamond-shaped trail markers) can be a little tricky. There's a gravel driveway just up past St Andrews on the right that you walk into and you'll see where the trail begins. The climb starts off almost right away on a narrow, two-foot wide trail. The march up to the first rocky outcrop is the just the first introduction of the awesome views to come along Big Piney (indicated by orange markers along the way) toward the summit at Rattlesnake Rock. The descent back down West Ridge (indicated by yellow) can give the knees a beating but much more ground is covered in less time. Took the dog and I think he'd give the trail 5 paws if he could. Great hike!

Tue Jun 06 2017

Definitely underestimated the difficulty of this hike. Four and a half miles does not seem like much, but much of this is uphill and at a pretty significant incline. The last mile (or maybe even less) is downhill, but very, very steep. I had to turn around and climb down on all fours at least twice, and managed to fall once. Part of the trail was obscured and blocked off by a makeshift barricade--it looked like a natural pile of limbs at first and caused us (my wife and I) to make a wrong turn. Once we found where we'd erred we just went around the barricade. In retrospect, I suspect it to have been the work of pranksters, as it was near a part of the trail that is quite easily accessible from surrounding neighborhoods and we found nothing wrong with the trail behind it. As for the views, they are probably better in the winter. Rattlesnake Rock is nice, but you can find better and not have to work near as hard for it. The abandoned moonshine still site on the decline is kind of neat also. I don't recommend this hike unless you're simply looking for a challenge.

Sat Mar 04 2017

Steep and strenuous hike that was difficult to navigate even with miles of hiking experience! Fun but not that many views. More for the thrill of the hike.

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