Explore the most popular forest trails in North Carolina with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I also reccomend doing Moore's Nob first (counterclockwise). I started with Hanging Rock first, met a busload of 3rd graders coming down the trail and an additional 15 or so at the top. Maybe that'll thin-out if you do it last. Its definitely an easier finishing segment. I did the entire loop and the map shows about 10 miles, my phone shows closer to 11. Eating lunch, sightseeing, little more than 5 hours.

This is one of my favorite spots!

The car may of hike more than I did that day. Short hike from the parking lot to the tower. I am excited to go back and hike down to the spring this time.

21 hours ago

Awesome trail. We choose to hike it during the rainy season. The national forestry closes the road during the rainy season. This makes for a much much longer hike that starts at the bottom of the mountain. Still an amazing hike. We plan to go again when the flowers are in bloom.

I was expecting the trail to be much steeper than it was. A moderate trail is very accurate.

Great! Swing at the end btw.

The marking of the overview could have been more clear, though we did find it and were able to enjoy a drink and great view up there. This was my husband and I’s very first hike, it was a good hike, with great views but the elevation was more challenging than we anticipated. Overall, great hike!

Hit up the Ham Shop for a breakfast sandwich to-go, and enjoy this hike in the morning. This avoids any crowds and allows you to take your time and not rush, so you can take it all in and enjoy. It’s definitely intense at the top, but slower and less agile hikers can still take their time while getting to the top. The views at the peak are well worth the trip up.

I have hiking these trails for years and they are slowly gaining in popularity. It is a great long hike if you do all of it - 7 miles. There are several ways to do portions. It can be confusing but there are completely paved areas as well as typical trails. Lots of hills so it’s a good workout. I am sorry that the hiker above thought they had to cross the river to find the trail. You don’t. My best suggestion is to download the map or take a pic of the one at the trail.

With some trekking poles this trail is not difficult at all. I highly recommend this iconic hike!

Really nice and quiet little trail. Well kept.

2 days ago

Local beginner hiker and I just found this trail. I am in love. It is definitely muddy after the rain and I would not call it stroller or wheelchair friendly. Especially the northern section along the river. There is definitely erosion after the recent storms. Not that I minded any of that and can’t wait to do the entire trail. I like that I can hop on in several different areas when I am out solo and for just a few hours. Using my poles I got quite the workout even on the flat areas. Enjoy!!

OH MAN- this trail was intense!! We started off doing Old Butt Knob to get to the top of Shining rock and then took Shining Creek trail back down the mountain. I highly recommend doing Old Butt Knob first. That trail was like the ultimate stair master and going down it after a full day on hiking would have been hard. My friend and I are both active people, but we don’t hike too often. It took us about 8 hours to hike 10 miles (the trail was closer to 9 miles but we wandered a bit and that’s why we hiked 10 miles). We just took our time getting up the mountain and had a blast. I know some reviews say this trail isn’t for amateurs, but if you are an active person, you should have no problem completing it. The only problem I had was that there were not a lot of view points along this trail. Any views of the mountain range were blocked by trees. We actually hopped on the Art Loeb Trail for about a mile to get some better views and ended up hanging out at the top of one of the mountains for an hour or so. Also, make sure you bring a trail map and compass. There were no blazes on any of the trails. There were, however, distinctive paths through the forest that were easy to follow. If you are going to venture off on another trail, make sure you know how to get back! Also, if you are looking to camp overnight, there are plenty of campsites along both trails. There were these little paths that we followed off of the main trail and they always lead to a campsite. I think we stumbled upon 4 or 5. Overall, it was a good hike, but I felt it was more for the exercise rather than the views.

Beautiful views , diversified terrain with some pretty strenuous climbs .... 50 mile an hour winds on one of the peaks .... significant downhill section near end ... if you are looking for a hostel / bar / food at the end of this section try The Station at 19E , they really take care of hikers .

Great trail! But yes, whomever rated it ‘easy’ must have been smokin dope. lol Definitely Moderate.

I’ve backpacked in the gorge probably 30 times, and this is one of my favorite trails I’ve ever done. I started at 9 am after camping near the trailhead, summited at about 2:30pm, and was at an amazing campsite on top of shortoff mtn. by 7pm. I took my time with the views and didn’t rush, also stopped for dinner on the trail. You definitely want to spend at least one night on this one- there are tons of great campsites along the whole route, and if you can catch a sunrise it will be well worth it.

Short trail with big payoff. That little Bradley falls is absolutely amazing.

Great hike. Will definitely do again when the water is lower.

Trail is not marked and overgrown once you cross the river. Lots of blow down. Water was high, so you cannot cross with dry feet unless you scramble across a downed tree before the crossing. River is beautiful. Not a soul out there today. Packed some found trash out.

lots of wildlife, tons of turtles all sunbathing on logs, blue herons walking on the water edge, and toads hopping around in the forest.

Nice hike, the views weren’t amazing but parts near the lake and river were nice. Fun wildlife lots of spring peepers, snakes, and ground skinks

Good exercise. The views from the top are breathtaking

Fantastic views- is definitely not for a beginner hiker though. Most of the hike involved simple rock climbing and was all roots/rocks. There are ladders scaling the mountainsides that you must climb and cables that you have to use to hoist yourself up steep rocks. WORTH IT though if you’re up for the challenge. The views are incredible.

4 days ago

Wife and I hiked this past weekend. Very enjoyable hike, once you submit to the notion your feet are going to get wet as you cross the streams. It is March so the creek levels are high. The addition of seeing the history of the 1916 flood was an added element to the hike. I would rate the trail moderate to strenuous, as of right now it needs some maintenance due to some downed trees. Two questions I have for hikers who are very familiar with the trail. I would like to know where the "perfect chimney," is located and the Caudill family cemetery.

Have hiked this trail several times. Not too difficult and very nice views from the top.


4 days ago

Did this as a 2 night backpacking trip. Well established trail but NOT marked. Tough, rocky terrain that can be slippery after rain but elevation gain isn’t bad. We had intended to continue on to Greasy Cove Trail and loop around Shining Creek Path back to the trailhead but we could not find the trail after 2 hours so we made an out and back of Big East Fork.

All in all a good first time trip for this novice backpacker. Campsites were nice and flat with easy access to the creek for water.

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.

Great place for a family hike.

Camped in cat gap trail and connected to John rock during the day trip, it was gorgeous! mostly uphill the whole last two miles so I'd rate it moderate, but so worth it!

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