Rock Castle Gorge Loop

HARD 66 reviews

Rock Castle Gorge Loop is a 10.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Floyd, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,470 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

The trail is great for hiking and normally takes a full day. This hike is very strenuous, since most of the hike when done clockwise gains in elevation and offers views, forests, waterfalls, and wildlife. The trail is primarily used for camping, fly fishing, hiking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round depending on conditions. There are demanding climbs, gentle hiking through meadows on top of the ridge and some steep descents. You will see an old Appalachian Trail shelter, the chimney of an old homestead and then the historic Austin House beside Rock Castle Creek. There are multiple places to start this hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

2 days ago

Great hike!

5 days ago

Great Trail!! Great work out...

hiking
20 days ago

Awesome hike! Arrived to start the hike later than anticipated around 2:45pm from the twelve o'clock knob overlook and started the hike clockwise... great start considering everyone recommends the opposite direction. The first mile was spent taking in some seriously spectacular views as we passed rock castle gorge overlook, rocky knob, and saddle overlook and even from the first cow pasture! After that you get a feeling of being deeply alone in the woods which is just incredible and exactly what a long, hard hike like this should deliver. There's about a mile of traversing a rocky descent before you arrive at the bottom and meet up with the creek. Then, you're on the fire road. This serves as an excellent place to make up some time which may have been lost enjoying the sights at the overlooks. These 2.8 miles have a slow and steady incline and are wide and easy to traverse-- also another treat! Along this part I did see a black bear and various prints, so beware. After the fire road we began our ascent once again out of the gorge. this was moderate at worst and to me what made it difficult was just the sheer distance preceding it, but it was definitely manageable. At the top of the 1.5 mile 900' ev section you will arrive at another cow pasture. If you have a dog with you please use caution because me and my dog almost got mauled by some angry cows as we interrupted their feeding along the trail. They were not fans of us stepping on their grass before they got to eat it :( from there its easy and your only about 1.5 miles from the twelve o'clock knob parking area again! All in all this was a great hike with excellent views and a challenging but rewarding and manageable terrain. Great for training for an AT thru hike. Make sure to bring plenty of water. Me and my dog went through almost 5 liters on a 80 degree day. There is the creek so you don't have to bring it all with you as long as you have a water treatment system with you (yay for Sawyer filters!) I loved this hike and its a rare gem. Took 4 h 15 m with 3 10 min breaks:) Hike on friends!!!!

hiking
28 days ago

Quite a challenge. I wasn’t prepared for it. Took me just over 6 hours including a lunch break. Great trail!

1 month ago

had no idea how tough this Trail was going to be. My wife and I do not hike every day but we're in pretty good shape and this was exactly what we were looking for. highly physically demanding. Bring print plenty of water and food, we took frequent breaks so it took us 7 hours to complete the trail. don't make plans afterwards as you will be exhausted, I promise you

1 month ago

Loved this hike
Saw a small bear

hiking
2 months ago

Classic hike, one of the area’s best. High open vistas, deep coves, pristine Appalachian creek, historic structures, physically challenging, pretty much everything you’d want from a hike in this region. Not to be missed!

2 months ago

I've done this trail in the past. It's been awhile. Time to do it again this July. Can't wait!!

4 months ago

Make sure you are in good shape before attempting this hike especially if you have some age on you. it's not the going down but the coming back up that will make you wonder "what in the hell was I thinking". expect to spend at least 5 hours on this hike but it is very rewarding when you complete it. great views getting there along the overlooks on top of the parkway.

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail. Ascent up mountain is strenuous. But you can park at the top and still get the good views. At the bottom of the gorge there is a very cool boulder field.

hiking
8 months ago

Clockwise route seemed to be the best but was a rough climb back out to the top.

9 months ago

Great trail

hiking
9 months ago

Definitely a tough hike... especially when you go clockwise. If you plan to hike the whole loop, make sure you get your bearings and go counter clockwise. It was a beautiful hike, however, the cow pasture near the two overlooks isn’t super well marked, just a heads up, but the rest of the trail was phenomenal

9 months ago

Excellent hike.

trail running
10 months ago

Great, challenging trail. I recommend running it counter-clockwise. Direction is less important for hiking. The descent when traveling clockwise is extremely steep and technical - more so than the descent when traveling counterclockwise. So you will be able to run more and hike less traveling counterclockwise. There is also a bit of route-finding in the pastures, especially the one closest to the campground. Doable, and easy to find again if you lose it - the trail stays pretty close to the fence line next to the Parkway.

hiking
10 months ago

A beautiful hike with lots of different things to see! Loved the huge rocks, old growth forests, the fence stiles were neat, the pastures and scenery were absolutely beautiful. However, this was the wrong hike to choose for your first. We went counter-clockwise as recommended for the easiest trip and it was still very hard. We couldn’t find the entrance and still don’t know where it is. We saw it on the hike but never on the Parkway. We started across the road from the information station. It was very easy hiking for about 5 miles then straight up a mountain for almost 2 miles! Getting to the top of the mountain is an awesome feeling. It is very long and strenuous but we would definitely do it again just not as first time hikers. Definitely recommend to experienced hikers or even first time hikers that are in great shape.

hiking
11 months ago

Love this hike!

hiking
11 months ago

This hike has it all. Strenuous climbs, open pastures, woods, streams, views, and even an original AT shelter. I would suggest starting at the bottom of the gorge and getting the hardest climb out of the way at the beginning.

hiking
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I liked it but I'm not sure if I'll do it again.

hiking
Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rock Castle Gorge loop trail is 10.8 miles long and strenuous. The hardest part of the trail is the 3 miles between the primitive campground on the valley floor and the BRP campground. I advise taking this into account when planning your hike. The guys who recorded banging this trail out in 4 hours are monsters. It took me 6 and was pretty dog gone tough. I finished going up the steepest section last and it was hard. Best trail in the area imo.

Monday, May 15, 2017

it was extremely hard, but had absolutely beautiful view's.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Steep climb to start! Pasture land to cross (sadly, no bulls or cattle in the field), water to hear roaring and gurgling for a good bit of the descent, and some overlooks to take in along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

hiking
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Beautiful trail with a great personality. You'll see creeks, fields, and amazing views from the overlooks on the parkway! Turned out to actually be 11 miles.

hiking
Sunday, February 19, 2017

Great hike.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Really great trail. Lots of things to see! I hiked this one clockwise. Either way you choose (Clockwise or Counterclockwise) you will end up with a pretty tough incline at the end of your trip.

hiking
Sunday, February 05, 2017

I went end of January on a Saturday morning. The pastures we nice and open and none of the passages were to hard to navigate even with a small dog. There was a little foot traffic to at least give you the sense you weren't alone. Really enjoyed the scenic views! Worth the Hike!

hiking
Monday, November 07, 2016

This is the second time this year I am doing this loop. First time I left my car on the Blue Ridge and went clockwise. Coming back to the car with the long climbing was quite painful... So the second time, I left my car at the Rock Castle Gorge Rd (right after the CC Camp lane), and I did the loop anti-clockwise. Much better for my legs! Once near by the Rocky Knob, I could stop for a while, relax, have a good lunch ...and start the second part of the loop in good shape! Well, this is specially true when you are 60++, Before, you can enjoy it either way!

hiking
Monday, September 26, 2016

The Castle Gorge Trail/Loop was excellent!:)…10.8 miles……..I parked at the Gorge and went counter-clockwise, going up the steep accent first while my legs where fresh and that’s the best way to do it as most of the second half of the trail was going down. I took my time and stopped to eat and enjoy, it took me 9H15M, very nice and beautiful…….I will return and do it again and take even longer to enjoy the endless streams and water-falls. I did see bear poop, so beware and keep your eyes open.

hiking
Sunday, September 11, 2016

Rock castle gorge is a great trail with great views, lots of history, and a fun challenge. You can start at the top and see the grand views first, work your way through cow pastures down to the Gorge. Or you can start at the Gorge, where primitive camp sites are offered, and work your way to the grand views. Either way you will leave feeling very accomplished.

fishing
Friday, March 11, 2016

Trail closed March 2016 due to flood damage

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