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

Love the river!! Beautiful park for the family and dogs too!

See also: Coffee Pot Mountain Loop Trail for more reviews and recordings. The name of this trail in particular makes more sense, since it actually uses the trail names in the title. You are indeed walking around the base of coffee pot mountain though on the second half. Note that when facing the sign in the parking area with the enlarged maps and info, the trail head will be behind you. The trail head to the left of the sign (if you're looking at it) is also named Trace Ridge, but it takes you into a totally different area to the south, intersecting with Wash Creek Trail.
There are two paths for the Coffee Pot Mountain Loop: The way in, and the way out. The gravel road with the barrier gate will be the way you'll come out at the end, which is to the left if facing both paths. Take the path to the right that appears to go uphill. That's the way in for this particular route, unless you'd like to take it backwards of course.
The first 1/3 of the hike has all the incline, as shown on the elevation map. There are short spurts of technical, rocky, narrow areas that bring you up along Trace Ridge north toward the Blue Ridge Parkway. Note that I'm not an athlete, but have been getting in shape for hikes and the incline portion of this trail was a great workout. There were awesome level terrain zones to give breaks and breathers between the incline zones, which is why the trail is rated as moderate. Keep your shoes tight, because the rocks and terrain are loose in some spots. The trail in general on this northern trek is quite narrow indeed, surrounded by mountain laurel, and there were lots of spider webs (carry a stick and wave it in front lol).
The sign at the northern end that splits toward the Blue Ridge Parkway was clearly marked. We didn't go that route, but easy enough to navigate if you want to add a view to your hike. You can hear the parkway traffic in this area and as you head back south into the next part of the loop. This is where the route changes to Spencer Gap with yellow blazes. Traffic fades as you go down by the water. The descent as you head south is quite gradual and very enjoyable. Do not take the red blazes or the blue blazes unless you want to change up the route. Look at the map before you go and take one with you, because there are quite a few intersections. One intersection in particular was confusing when it came to a gravel road. Look across the road, and slightly to the right, the trail continues on south with yellow markings and a sign with Spencer on it (might say Spencer Gap or Spencer Branch).
There were many many water crossings, and after the first one I saw I walked barefoot for a few miles. Some crossings were definitely too deep for shoes or boots. I'll bring water shoes next time for sure. It was so great to cool off in the creek on a hot day. Made the hike so rewarding!
Anyway I know this was a long review, but I hope it helps someone. Walking along the creek was my favorite part of the trail, since it was filled with wonderful smells and sounds with refreshing breaks. :D

camping
2 months ago

DO NOT ATTEMPT WITHOUT A HIGH CLEARANCE VEHICLE

Trail was covered in horse scat and flies plus the trail was heavily trafficked but... it was a beautiful place and we really enjoyed the beautiful south fork mills river.

Have walked sections of this area while living in WNC.

This is someone's driveway, then a main road. NOT a trail.

hiking
Saturday, April 15, 2017

This is a road. Not a trail.

hiking
Saturday, February 25, 2017

The ~ 1 mile road into the trailhead is extremely rough, so if you have a low clearance vehicle, be advised that you'll need to be extremely careful. It's also a very tight single lane with virtually no place to turn around or move right or left if there's oncoming traffic. That makes it difficult if it's a vehicle with a horse trailer. There's also a water crossing on the trail, so be prepared to get your feet wet. FYI

hiking
Sunday, February 12, 2017

If we had stayed on riverside the whole way, we would have crossed the river 11 times and these crossings don't have bridges so I wouldn't recommend hiking them but on horseback or maybe biking would be fine.

hiking
Sunday, June 26, 2016

Trails were not properly marked.

hiking
Friday, June 03, 2016

Very beautiful scenery. We did between 5 and 6 mile round trip. nice clean air

Trail is moderate with only one technical point. Nice down hill flow on Eastern 1/3 of trail.

mountain biking
Saturday, August 23, 2014

nice decent on the way out

hiking
Monday, August 04, 2014

Nice walk along the south branch of mills river. Several nice camp spots. But they get used fairly often. But a pretty easy walk all the way. A good 10 mile loop is, "south mills river road to wagon gap trail to turkey pen gap trail back to the parking area", this adds couple of difficult trails to make it more of a hike. Took us about 5:17 minutes at 1.45 mph average.

hiking
Monday, April 23, 2012

Cool trail with 6 river crossings (almost fell in two times) great place to cAmp not that long though hence the four stars.

hiking
6 days ago

Friday, June 23, 2017

hiking
Monday, June 08, 2015

Saturday, September 15, 2012