Explore the best trails near Hayesville with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
We had a wonderful time. We went in the morning during the week - meaning we were the only ones there. When we were leaving a couple more people cars pulled in. It was quaint and nice; the trails were fast flowing, but not what I call thrilling.
Sabrina W. on Jackrabbit Trail
Very nice level trail that has lake view for much of the hike. While there were mostly bikers they were all polite and friendly and shared the trail appropriately. The leaves are just beginning to turn. This trail has many educational tree and fauna identifying markers with great descriptions so if you are interested in learning about this then this is the trail for you!
Chris K. on Jackrabbit Trail
Did the 6.6 mile loop during rain storm today. It was a blast..
We hike (walk) this trail frequently. It is not too strenuous for us seniors, but the climb up to the top of the mountain is good exercise. There are several nice peek-a-boo views of the lake, and a few side trails to waters edge. The view from the top is unremarkable - too heavily wooded with no real open vistas. The trail is generally in very good condition.
Toward the end of summer a portion of the trail near the start/end of the loop can be somewhat overgrown, making pants a better choice than shorts.
Pat Helm's review below is pretty much spot on. I will say that if you are looking for beautiful vistas and views, this is not your hike. There are only a couple of these on the entire trail during the "green season". It is, however, very peaceful and quiet.
Even with the "orange guide book", the water was very, very, very scarce. Getting to the sources and gathering the water was very time consuming and I would definitely bring a pump filter next time.
Compared to the AT, many sections of the trail are not well-maintained. There are many confusing points on the trail where a blowdown blocks the trail. And no matter how hot it is, you're gonna need to wear long pants or suffer the wrath of constant briers scraping your legs. There are even sections where you have to walk through shoulder-high blackberry bushes.
And yes, poison ivy is everywhere.
If you're going to do this, don't do it without the orange guide book (amazon) and bring a GPS device.
It's a good little hike, though. I finished it in one night and one day, but it could be easily done over the course of three days. And yes -- the climbs and downhill sections are pretty epic, so no beginners for this one unless you're doing super low-mileage days.
Initially, I did the loop in 2 days, camping on Tusquitee during a very chilly blackberry May evening. However, upon my return to the car, I discovered I'd left my glasses where I had camped and eventually day hiked back up to the bald to get them two weeks later. As a result, I've gotten a pretty good taste of doing the loop both ways.
It's a challenging and in no way "moderate" trail......but it's a mighty pretty one!
Just to add a little to the great reviews already here:
- The most accessible water on the north rim is at the Shinbone Trail spur. Just go down about 50 yards to fill up.
- When you pass through Johnson Bald, give reverence to the plane wreckage on your left. Two folks died there in '74.
- If you decide to go counter-clockwise, eat a whole candy bar before starting the 6th mile. It's a relentless 1000 ft ascent straight up before reaching the 7th mile ( which is no picnic either ). Conversely, before going down ( mile 19 on a clockwise trip ), take 2 naproxens - not only is it steep, but the loose rocks make navigating the descent a slow and strenuous process. You'll be thankful you brought your trekking poles too!
- For goodness sakes, wear some pants when your walking in these parts! Shorts ain't gonna do it through the briars and blow downs, not to mention poison ivy, along and ON the trail.
Like others have said, this place is very remote. Of the combined 46 miles traveled on the trail, I've only seen one other person! It is truly a hidden jewel of Southern Appalachia and real privilege to have under my belt, twice!
Marcus B. on Fires Creek Rim Trail
Great trail, most of the 25 mile hike along the top of a ridgeline that once ascended is over 4000 ft. culminating at Tusquitee Bald at 5240 ft. I began at Leatherwood Falls and took the northerly route. Very few switchbacks, steep up and down with some relatively level stretches. I got a late start, if I had it to do over again, I would start early and set up camp the first night at Big Stamp, spend the second night atop Tusquitee Bald, and hike out the third day. Hikers in good shape could probably do the hike in two days, but for this 62 year old wheezer/geezer, I took 3 days, hiking out the last 2 miles in the dark using flashlights. And I was plum tuckered out. Some serious strenuous sawtooth action on the soufhern loop and before Weatherman Bald, fortunately more water to be found on the southern hike. A few great open views, a continuous view through trees of the Fires Creek basin and surrounding valleys, the cooler months with less foliage will offer better viewing. Thanks to the Mountain High Hikers Club for all the good work they have done maintaining the trail, though there was some deadfall and briers towards the midpoint and southern section. Saw a couple of bear cubs hightailing it away from my approach, grouse, hawks, signs of wild hogs everywhere, deer tracks, and 3 people in the first couple of miles, after that no one, truly a wilderness area once you hike back in there. Check on prescribed burns before you go, on the second day afternoon, I encountered one of these obnoxious procedures, between the smoke, pollen and steep terrain, the going got pretty rough. Fortunately on the third day, the wind was blowing the smoke away from me, it was a beautiful hike, one I will always remember. Also a good map is invaluable, very few of the peaks have signs. the main trail seems to bypass several of them, but there are usually side trails to the peaks. The trail itself is well-marked with blue blazes.