Rim of the Gap Trail is a 9.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Cleveland, South Carolina that offers scenic views and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.
Amazing trail. It nearly took everything out of me. Loved every minute. It was also nerve wracking and a little scary. Neither for the faint of heart nor the uninitiated. About 2 miles in, coming from the Caesar's head visitor's center, I had to stop and refocus, away from my fear and onto the fun. The trail is narrow, and extremely narrow in some spots. The sheer drops off the trail are indescribable. If there had been a way out, I may have taken it, but I was with an excellent guide, my husband, who knew my experience and ability, and he got me through it. The climb out of the gap, from blue to orange, to blue connector, to purple back to the visitors center was challenging. Am I glad I did it? Yes. My gps logged 11 miles on this loop. It took us 7 hrs with only 15 minutes for lunch.
We sorely underestimated the difficulty of this hike. It was exhausting - constant elevation changes, climbing over roots, scrambling over rocks, navigating narrow ledges with steep drop offs. This loop took us over 7 hours. The challenge made it really fun - like an obstacle course/hike combo. Be prepared if you take on this one!
Very fun trail! Lots of stream crossing, waterfalls.. pretty technical first 4km.. beautiful trail!
This is a very difficult trail and requires attentiveness to blazes. Lost the trail a few times and had to backtrack and find blazes. Very difficult terrain, too. But it is definitely worth it if you like to hike and are in pretty good shape. Part of the loop has some amazing waterfalls if you venture down to the stream (50 yards off the trail) at some places, and there are some good views every now and again on the actual rim of the gap trail. Would definitely reccomend, but be careful!
Difficult, but worth it!!!
I LOVE this hike!! It's a ton of fun and certainly keeps you on your toes. This is a very rugged trail with a lot of scrambling over rocks and roots and down hills and up ladders, etc. I would definitely recommend having a good bit of hiking experience on strenuous trails before attempting this one as it could be potentially dangerous to a less experienced hiker. There are many spots where the trail is very narrow and right at the edge of a steep hill. Besides that, I think it's a great, diverse trail. The first part is pretty moderate (if you're heading out from Jones Gap) with just some gradual uphill but once you pass the John Sloan Trail intersection, in turns into quite a beast. From previous reviews, it sounds like most people do a loop with several other trails in the area rather than an out and back trip. We did the loop (#6 - #15 - #7 - #3 - #1, if looking at the area trail map) and it took us around 5 hours or so to complete with a total distance of what we were estimating was about 9.5 to 10 miles.
This trail is not for the faint of heart or the novice hiker. It is a raw, balls-to-the-wall, potentially dangerous dance with the elements that will challenge even the fittest hiker, and you will quickly find out what I mean when you get in to it a little ways.
That said, this trail offers beautiful views of the gap in winter...my favorite time to go. There are technical aides in place to help you along (ladders, ropes), but there are also places where the trail runs along the rim with sheer drops mere inches away, so you have to be smart and alert and safe. You will not encounter a lot of traffic on this trail because it is too difficult for the average hiker, and for whatever reason, people seem to know this.
The entire trail is not super hard, but for the portions that are, be ready to work because it truly is a handful. All the more reason to feel good once you have hiked it.
This was a beast of a day hike. Our route was Jones Gap Trail to Coldspring Branch Trail to Coldspring Connector Trail to Frank Coggins Trail to Rim of the Gap Trail to Jones Gap. We went counter-clockwise and started out at the trailhead near the park office in Jones Gap. The Jones Gap trail is well graded and wide with a gradual uphill slope. The Coldspring Branch portion was well-graded with a gradual uphill slope - there were several water crossings which wouldn't be too hard to navigate under normal conditions, but South Carolina had just experienced historical rain events in early/mid October so streams and creeks were flowing full. The Coldspring Connector portion was a fairly steep climb in portions but the trail was well marked and graded. The Frank Coggins portion was well graded and nothing too difficult. Walking through the forest is great, but there aren't any vistas to take in - that being said, we absolutely loved the peaceful walk through the forest and only came across four other people. The Frank Coggins portion brings you to the top of a picturesque waterfall which is a great break location before tackling the Rim of the Gap. We were in the 2 - 2.5 MPH range until we reached the Rim of the Gap portion - after about the 4.0 mile marker, we were reduced to a slow crawl (probably averaged 0.5 MPH) for about 1.5 - 1.75 miles. We then popped back onto well graded trails and were cruising along for the rest of the trail.
Regarding those 1.5 - 1.75 miles near the start of the Rim of the Gap Trail (if working counter-clockwise on the loop) - they were terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. It offered was incredible views of the gap. There were some incredible rock features. We went across a cliff or two. There was some scrambling. It is very intense - particularly if you weren't expecting it. Definitely not the place for any small kids. I concur with the other reviews that this section of the trail isn't for beginners
This is definitely what I was looking for. A hard as hell hike with water falls around every corner. We were wanting something challenging and this was it. Ladders, ledges, and lots of climbing. The first mile and a half is relatively easy - lots of uphill but smooth trail. After that it's very difficult. Like others said, there are places where you literally can fall off - there are no rails. You have to cross slick waterfalls and pray you don't slip. We took our dogs with us and they behaved very well but there were many times where we had to make them wait so we could climb down an eight foot drop to help them down. Would recommend a very heavy duty dog harness. That was our saving grace. All and all a very hard but rewarding hike. If you're gonna do the loop then I recommend doing Rim of the Gap FIRST and then taking the connector trails to the Jones Gap trail. Coming the other way would be impossible. Happy hiking!!
Great trail...first mile and half are relatively easy upwards from jones gap state park. it is when you make the turn downwards beside the face of the mountain where it gets very difficult and.muddy! Had so much fun but wasn't going to go back the same way. I took three trails that connected me back to the jones gap trail that were all downhill and very easy along the river. Happy hiking!
Very difficult trail as others have noted. Does not appear to be a high traffic trail and I can see why. Very challenging for me as a relative newcomer to hiking. Recommend only for those in good physical condition.
rim of gap very technical trail.. you have to love hiking to enjoy. lots of water falls narrow trails and rock faces.. well worth the time.. there where also lots of ladders to climb slippery rocks and roots all over the place.. also lots of cliff edges with drops offs over 100' straight down.. once pasted rim of gap it was all down hill and we made good time back to jones gap parking lot.. would not recommend trail to children or pets.. brought my dog and she slide down the face of 2 rocks landing 8 ft below unharmed. but there where plenty of places where that could have been fatal. be careful when you hike this one and take a friend..
This trial is for the more heavy hikers, but I would not recommend this for beginners. There are places were you can FALL OFF!
Holy crap tough. Very cool but difficult and not for the first timer. A better fall/winter hike.
Great trail but I would only recommend for experienced hikers. We hiked from Jones Gap State Park up the Rim of the Gap Trail and then took connector trails over to Jones Gap Trail. Beautiful winter views of Jones Gap. There were also many neat rock walls/formations along hike. We had to go up and down ladders and over a lot of slippery rocks. Check in winter because trail sometimes closes due to icy conditions.
Great Trail...It has plenty of good views. It's definitely for someone who enjoys hiking.