Explore the most popular walking 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.

17 days ago

Nice hike, my GPS recorded it as 8.26 miles from the trail head. Yes you Ford the river a lot, and the crossings are close together at times. Wear shoes that drain and dry quickly, forget about wearing socks unless you are willing to take them off and put them on 22 times or just wear them wet for 8 miles. Several crossings were calf deep, many were just over knee deep and one was panty deep (suddenly) but the cool down was welcomed at that point. Ps I am 6’2” tall with lots of legs, shorter people beware.

nice hike. no good views. went right to start up trace ridge finished on fletcher creek and reservoir road to get 8.5 miles. not to difficult but rough and rocky

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

3 months ago


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.

10 months ago

Fairly gentle, well maintained out & back with several (8-10) crossings through less than knee deep water (wear appropriate footwear). Parking @ trailhead just past N. Mills River campground across road from century+ old restored home. IN section ends at service road for reservoir and half mile further up road leads to reservoir spillway and trailhead for Big Creek trail. Can hike out on service road (SR 5000), coming out just before MR campground or return to trail to reverse hike out on trail. Plenty of river side camp sites.

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

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.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Trails were not properly marked.

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

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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

nice area that's easily accessible with plenty of easy hikes, fishing holes & campsites. good place for a relaxing weekend getaway, however, this area can definitely get crowded on holiday & fair weather weekends

Sunday, August 15, 2010

These trails are actually near Brevard,NC. They are in the Pisgah National Forrest, which I highly reccomend.

1 month ago

5 months ago

Monday, June 08, 2015