ART LOEB TRAIL
Length: 12.3 miles Rating: Strenuous
The Art Loeb Trail, 30.1 miles long, is a national recreation trail and named after a local hiking enthusiast. The trail traverses beautiful, but rugged terrain, from some of the lowest, to some of the highest points on the Pisgah District. Most of the Art Loeb Trail is overlapped by the Mountains-to-the Sea Trail. It begins at the Davidson River and climbs steeply to Shut-in Ridge. Once up, don’t expect that the hard part is over. This trail will take you up and down knobs, along ridges and down into several gaps.
Directions: Go 0.2 mile south of Pisgah District Ranger Station on U.S. Highway 276, and turn onto the road to Davidson River Campground. Park in the Art Loeb Trailhead parking lot. The other end of this section is at Gloucester Gap on FS Rd. 471, where overnight parking is not recommended.
Length: 3.2 miles Rating: Easy
This is a popular family hiking trail because of its beauty and ease. This is a moderate climb of almost a mile to the base of an impressive waterfalls. A map at the parking area shows the Graveyard Fields trail system. The set of steps to the right of the map is the start of the trail. After crossing the bridge, the main trail goes left and upstream. A 0.25-mile trail to the right will take you to the bottom of the Lower Falls, which is a moderate descent. Rocks around waterfalls are very slippery. The main trail will take you through open, grassy areas, and past nice pools for wading on a hot summer day. Blueberries are abundant in the fall. After one mile, you will see the trail to the Upper Falls. The main trail crosses the Yellow stone Prong and returns to the parking lot.
Directions: This trail begins at the Graveyard Fields Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the U.S. Highway 276 junction with the parkway, turn left or south on the Parkway and continue to milepost 418.8 (about 6 miles).
Length: 4.2 miles Rating: Easy
This moderate, 4-mile hiking trail has an elevation gain of only 900 feet. It is well known for the variety of magnificent trees. The trailhead is on Caldwell Fork Trail. After leaving Caldwell Fork, the trail ascends a low ridge to a gap, slabs (runs across the mountain slope with only gradual elevation change) the mountainside with only two additional short climbs, reaches a side ridge, and descends back to Caldwell Fork. It is best to do this trail as a day hike from Cataloochee Campground, a 7.5-mile roundtripa
Directions: Take exit 20 off I-40 (Cove Creek) and travel west on NC 276 turn right on Cove Creek road. Stay on Cove Creek Rd. for 6 miles. This will take you 2 miles beyond park boundary. Turn left on Cataloochee Road, go 3.1 miles. Trail will be on the left.
BUCKEYE RIDGE TRAIL
Length: 5.4 miles Rating: Moderate
This hiking trail winds through grassy fields and wooded areas. It provides panoramic views of the countryside in some spots. Cold Springs Creek Flows through dense woods and grassy fields on its way to the Pigeon River. The forest shows hints of its past history-farming, logging, narrow gauge railroads, settlements, and signs of recent forest management. The grassy ridges of Max Patch Mountain near the Tennessee state line crown the area. Trails combined with forest service roads to provide loop opportunities.
Directions: Take Harmon Den Exit off I-40 near the NC/TN state line. Head northeast on FR 148 (Cold Springs Road) about 3 miles to Harmon Den parking area on the left. Parking for trailers is also available at lower junction of FR 148 and 3526.
BLUERIDGE PARKWAY HIKES
Milepost 418.8: Graveyard Fields
A short downhill hike (partly paved) leads to one of three waterfalls. A popular hiking destination, Graveyard Fields morphs into a wild blueberry patch in late summer and fall, so bring your buckets.
Milepost 420: Black Balsam Knob
This section of trails includes some of the most spectacular mountains and balds in the Southern Appalachians, including Black Balsam Knob, Sam Knob, and Tennent Mountain. These treeless mountaintops draw people from afar due to their sweeping views and alpine appearance.
Milepost 422.4: Devil’s Courthouse
According to Cherokee folklore, the devil holds court in a cave on the mountain, where a walk to the bare rock summit is worth every step.
Milepost 431: Richland Balsam Overlook
The highest point on the entire Parkway at 6,053 feet, the Richland Balsam overlook also offers a beautiful 1.5-mile self-guided loop trail.
Milepost 451.2: Waterrock Knob
Waterrock Knob Visitor Center sits at nearly 6,000 feet and offers exhibits, book sales, restrooms and a 1.2-mile roundtrip trail leading to the summit of Waterrock Knob for an almost 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains.