Explore the most popular birding trails near Black Mountain with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

My wife and I hiked this trail today in great but seasonally cool weather. It was still muddy in places, but overall in pretty good shape. We are in our 60’s, but seasoned hikers and found the upper section of Big Piney challenging but certainly a good hike. We only hiked Big Piney in and out, which was a great afternoon hike.

can someone tell me if it is paved up to this trailhead or not

Very well marked and maintained trail. Great views of the Lake and surrounding mountains as you make your ascent from the Buffalo Creek Park. Even views of a rock with the same reflective properties as looking glass rock as the sun hits it in the morning. Nice cliffs on the first half of the trail. Second half of the trail you can see flapjack rock. At the Chimney Rock state park end of the trail, you have the rock tunnel and Eagle Rock.

Easy hike except for the distance/elevation change. Intermediate/expert mountain bike trail.

There's also some rock climbing and bouldering problems along the trail.

Very limited parking at Buffalo Creek Park side. There's also parking at the Chimney rock trailhead, but it requires a reservation.

As Big Piney turns into Greybeard it becomes very muddy and flooded due to the winter storms. Keep that in mind as you start off. But other than the mud the trail was an amazing hike with beautiful views.

I completed this route counter clockwise. All the leaves were off the trees so once you got about 1.5 miles in, the views were wonderful nearly the entire time. It was a quiet mid-week hike. I only saw a couple of other souls...trail runners all.

As others have said, I recommend the short additional hike up to Walkers Knob. They have a sign up that says 10 minutes up, but it was half of that. The views from there are well worth it.

The trail was a little tough to follow at points, particularly the last 1/4 mile before you turn up to the summit to Graybeard.

Coming back down the backside is no joke. With leaves on the ground, it was extremely slick and lots of spots where you have no choice but climb down rocks. The views on that ridge though are worth it. A great look at the Black Mountains the entire time. Be Careful!

Towards the 8 mile is where I think the person saying it was over 12 miles may have deviated. I'm guessing that person took the full West Ridge Trail and did not break off on Big Piney Ridge. That would add another 2.5 miles or so.

Note that at about 3,300ft on Big Piney Ridge, the keepers of this trail have restructured it to drop down to Little Piney. The remaining route shown on AllTrails is still there, but they have clearly tried to block it off. I went down the old way and can tell you that it is not maintained and I do not suggest it. It is steeper and I found myself surfing down leaves at times. The last mile of this hike is through a neighborhood on a gravel road.

Graybeard was a great hike but I am glad we completed the Big Piney Loop instead of the out and back to Graybeard. I recommend a visit to Walkers Knob for a nice vista view since we had already made the trek towards the top. We completed the loop in 5.5 hours and that included a lunch break. Our party consisted of a 9 and 10 year old plus our dog (on leash). The Seven Sisters trail was remote and challenging. No issues with navigating the trails all day. If you are up for the hike to Graybeard, then I recommend the adventure of completing the Loop.

i think the review below is pretty accurate.


Great hike -nice mix of several rock overlooks, small waterfall and rugged hiking in the backhalf. BUT THIS HIKE IS A FAIR AMOUNT LONGER. My Strava said 12.5 miles. Also, backhalf (big piney ridge trail) is not for novice hikers as trail is not as well worn, although probably partly due to fact was fall with plenty of leaves down camouflaging trail.

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.

Tough but a good long hike. Pack lightly.

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.

Love this loop! Great views and beautiful forested trails. College takes good care of the trail. The down is very steep; last time I had to take an alternate route down because of ice.

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.

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.

We did this in an anticlockwise direction and included Walker's Knob near the hut below Greybeard. Good views at various points. Trail is well marked but rough in places. Great hike and we have done it before. I would grade it moderate to strenuous. We met only three other people all day.

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

Y’all let me you...
We started off on the Kitsuma bike/hiking trail which was great! But as we got to the bottom we realized that this trail did not truly loop around. You do have to walk up a road to continue on to the Swannanoa Creek trail. Which was fine. But the further you went down the trail the more over grown and washed out it became. Apparently that area was hit pretty hard with torrential rain about 3 months ago which completely washed out the trail. The trail is no longer kept up so it was basically a jungle of kudzu, fallen trees, and briars. The only “trail” we were able to follow was made by the deer. We became so frustrated that we climbed up the hill and walked along the railroad tracks and over I40 back to the car. I don’t recommend the Swannanoa Creek trail at this time until it can be cleared up as it was impossible to follow.

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.

With all of the posted admonitions, I was expecting to barely make it down alive. It seems more like the contrast between Big Piney and Graybeard is at play. The trail itself wasn’t all too difficult...just different. It’s not well maintained or well marked; however, I took fewer wrong turns than I did on Graybeard since I was compelled to watch where I was going. I didn’t see anyone else on the trail until I got down to Little Piney, so that was a nice change compared to the high traffic of Graybeard. The loose rock near the end of the trail was a bit sketchy to navigate once I was fairly fatigued from 4 hours of hiking. Some rolling sections, interesting rock formations, and shady groves make this a worthwhile alternative to Graybeard’s out-and-back offering.

Although I had a full pack, and it was 90 degrees and really humid, this is a killer loop with a significant portion unmaintained and remote after Graybeard splits off at the top. Highly suggest novices stay away from the split and just stick to an out and back. Definitely not a moderate trail, definitely difficult. Also, take a look at the screen shot I uploaded with the circled intersection. Have no idea how but I went off trail onto Harmony Lane here where the road must intersect. If you are doing the full loop be VERY careful here, I’m an experienced hiker and even I got off trail !

Starts right along Route 40, with the noise and fumes from a major highway. Turns up and away from the highly fairly soon, but still has the traffic noise. There are better hikes in the area if you are looking for a quiet hike in the woods.

Challenging climbs, makes you break a sweat. Only did an up and back, want to complete the loop next time.

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

Really enjoyed a varied and semi-technical terrain on the bottom loop out to the picnic area but the top loop along a paved road was a little boring at times but had a nice view at Point Lookout. Next time I’d turn back at the halfway point.

Interesting hike. Segment along Swannanoa Creek is reputed to be the old stagecoach road to Asheville. Note interesting stone work at former bridge crossing and culverts. At least 2 Civil War era gravesites (see photos). Old roadbed remains but can be tricky to follow. Crosses railroad near upper end of creek. See my photo for actual track on the old roadbed which follows closely along creek all the way up to Swannanoa Gap. The Alltrails track is not accurate with regard to the route of the old stagecoach road!

Kitsuma trail out was great. However the return trail is not where it is shown on the map. Looks like whoever recorded it turned off the recording while they followed the railroad tracks and turned it back on when they reached the old stagecoach trail. Hence the perfectly straight line on the map that crosses the stream several times. I followed the tracks for a while and ended up going back up the embankment to the paved trail to get back.

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.

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

Monday, December 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.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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

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