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Rock Castle Gorge Loop is a 10.4 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

running

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. 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.

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful and rewarding trail. The trail is eroded in many spots, and the stinging nettle is plentiful, but it's still worth the trip. We hiked counterclockwise from the trailhead linked on AllTrails, but others have recommended starting CCW from the Woolwine trailhead (fire road off of Hwy 8). We completed the trail in less than 5 hours, but it was a strenuous workout!

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
9 days ago

Great diversity in terrain! Don’t go the wrong direction. Sharp right turn after the first barrier.

hiking
rocky
16 days ago

Gorgeous views, challenging elevations! Very doable in a day but it is closer to 12 miles. We recorded over 13 because we deviated from time to time. I imagine we could have hiked at a less leisurely pace but this is such a scenic hike that we wanted to fully appreciate it!

hiking
rocky
17 days ago

Great trail! just like other comments say a little bit of everything from creeks, great views to rocky climb and nice walk through pastures with cows hanging out. We didn’t encounter any bear, but we did see a couple of deer families. We tried to follow counter clockwise like I saw a lot people recommend but at the end we realized we actually took a clockwise way. Pretty strenuous, really steep climb and at the end really narrow way downward that made our knees give up since we took the cw. The steep climb has slowed us down as well as 2 other hikes we did a day before so all together it took us 6 hours to finish. It is a bit of a challenge but would definitely do it again starting cc wise this time and bringing the tracking poles for sensitive knees. Great hike!

hiking
20 days ago

GO CLOCKWISE.....If you go counter clockwise you will have to face a very rocky and steep incline towards the end. Going clockwise eliminated that but it’s still a steep incline that you have to encounter; being that it’s not as tuff as the opposite side of the loop. Close encounter with a Black Bear. Maybe 30 feet in distance. He ran away after eye contact. The trail totaled out to be 11.13 miles. We completed the whole loop in the pouring rain in 4 hours 27 minutes. Roughly around 17 pounds of gear was carried including the water in the camelback. Trekking poles we carried but we never used them. GREAT TRAIL!!!

hiking
24 days ago

We went CCW and it is totally worth it! Best views at the end after a tour packed with everything.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail with so many beautiful features! Will be doing again in the future!

hiking
flooded
muddy
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

It was a great trail! It was a bit flooded, but it did just rain a couple days ago. Be prepared to get a bit wet but also willing to walk over boulders. It had a bit of everything, from water falls, pastures, rivers, flat land, rocky land, downhill and uphill. I did bring my lab/coonhound dog on the whole loop and he loved it. We did take extra stops for him to rest. Overall I will be doing this again!

hiking
flooded
1 month ago

hiking
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

What an amazing trail, it really does cover it all; waterfalls, creek, rock scrambles, cow pastures, flat forest trails, and more! I don’t know if it was cloud cover issues, but the All Trails recording was 12.5 miles. We did the trail CCW and from mile 6ish to 8ish was a pretty strenuous climb, but with a nice steady pace we had no trouble. Great trail, would do it again.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike, very difficult! We went CCW, which meant hiking up the steepest part of the loop. Bring plenty of water... It felt a lot longer than 10.8 miles with all the elevation changes. Recommend starting at the East trailhead, otherwise you add a couple miles walking along the fire road. Numerous stream crossings. Gorgeous views along the way, and lots of cows! Difficult even for experienced hikers!

hiking
1 month ago

Many would suggest the highlight of the hike were the vistas from the ridge. It was varied in the form of open fields and a ridge cliff. My favorite sections of the hike was hiking along the the several streams that all eventually run into the Rock Castle Creek, which provided for a much more tranquil experience. For more details, see our full report at: https://travel2walk.com/2020/05/17/virginia-hikes-rock-castle-gorge-may-9-2020/

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike - I did not see a SINGLE person on the entire trail besides myself today, and the conditions were ideal. The entire hike took about 3.5 hours with no break (recording had some issues, so that's the start-to-finish clock time). There's steep climbing regardless of which way you hike, but the steepest sustained section is in the north, so you will climb this if going CCW or descend if going CW. Note that some parts of the trail turn into a creek, so waterproof hiking boots are ideal - but I was able to pull it off in sneakers without getting them soaked. The best part is probably walking through all the meadows that cows are grazing in!

hiking
2 months ago

Fantastic hike with a great cross section of terrain, flora and fauna. Started at rocky knob pull off from BRP and went clockwise. When I do it again I’ll probably start at the fire road and go counterclockwise. That gets all the elevation gain out of the way upfront and a more gentle downhill second two thirds. There were wind swept meadows at the tops, some of which had cattle on them that you have to slalom. Fantastic views interspersed through the hike, of course including the valley but also of the creek and waterfalls. A party near me spotted a bear cub that had run off by the time I had gotten there. Flowers were blooming in May, including the rhododendrons. Maybe a dozen trees down, but almost all appear to be chronic and not new. A few of the river crossings, esp on the fire road were a little challenging. Only real criticism is the amount of the hike that was on the fire road, but being next to the creek was very nice. Clocked at 11mi in 5.5 hours. Could’ve taken a little more time to smell the roses.

2 months ago

love this hike

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful. Variety of different trail terrains and scenery for a single hike. Would definitely do again. Beware however trail is more like 11 miles and more physically demanding than anticipated. Still would do it again after a couple days rest of course! Happy hiking.

scenic driving
2 months ago

10 out of 10. Excellent views driving through. Blue ridge was marked off with signage to park/view/hike. It’s got pretty good views. Gets a good review.

hiking
2 months ago

Looking for a challenge? This is a great hike. Regardless of which direction you travel it will be strenuous even for experienced hikers. There are multiple waterfalls and cool water features as well as a really nice camping area near the creek/river. There are many long range view spots along the way and cool rock/boulder formations along the trail.

hiking
2 months ago

great trail with the best of everything.. some large rock formations, water, technical areas, climbs and longer ridges with expansive long range views. went with my brother and took the more difficult clockwise direction from the campground. we made a quick pace and were feeling it by the end.. strenuous is a good description, but definitely a worthwhile hike. there was only 1 section that was not clearly marked ~6.25mi mark in the direction we were headed but we were able to get back on track pretty quickly with the quick help of the all trails app.

hiking
2 months ago

Badly marked in spots- great otherwise

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful and diverse trail! So many awesome aspects to it, love that you hike near the stream for so much of it and the views from the pastures are unbeatable. Definitely makes you work, we hiked it clockwise and uphills in the last few miles were challenging. Very lightly trafficked which was a plus.

bugs
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

great trail with excellent views. very easy to follow through the pastures if you look for the posts. highly recommend. took me 4 and a half hours with a quick lunch by the river.

hiking
3 months ago

My favorite trail in the world. I’m 43 yrs old, slow, overweight and out of shape but hiked it yesterday counterclockwise from CC Camp alone in 7 hrs. I generally give myself 8 hrs. I do take lots of breaks to catch my breath on the uphills and eat lunch. But you do have to keep moving to not run out of daylight. You can cover ground quickly along the parkway ridge and the fire road. If you can get through the boulders before dark you’re golden. Only saw a few humans & they were all around the parkway. I adore the cows. I love One Tree Hill. The spring wildflowers were sublime. If you’re scared, grab a friend-park a car at CC Camp and another at the parkway just in case you need to bail halfway. Please try to hike this trail. The ultimate soul cleansing, grief healing trail of all time.

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