For the easiest route, take Rube Rock Trail from the Appalachian Trail to its intersection with Groundhog Creek Trail. The trail leaves the Appalachian Trail and descends to an intersection with Forest Road 358A which is a gated road. Turn right and follow this road. A left turn on the road leads back to Brown Gap. The trail follows the road for .5 mile then leaves the road on the left and begins descending along Rube Rock Branch where it crosses a drain to Tom Hall Branch. At the end of this descent, the trail parallels I-40, crosses Rube Rock Branch and intersects with Groundhog Creek Trail. Rube Rock Trail is one of the most difficult trails on the district due to its steepness in several places. This trail can be combined with the Appalachian Trail and Groundhog Creek Trail to form a loop. It is easier to hike down rube Rock Trail, then up Groundhog Creek Trail. The trail blaze is yellow rectangles.
Directions: From Hot Springs, NC, Travel south on SR 209 for 7.5 miles to SR 1175. Turn right on SR 1175 and go 4 miles to SR 1181. Turn right onto SR 1181 and follow it to the intersection of SR 1182. Turn left and take the next right which is Forest Road 148 (Cold Springs Road). Follow 148 to the Harmon Den Parking Area. Just past the parking area, turn right onto Forest Service Road 148A and follow it to the top of the ridge where the Appalachian Trail crosses. Access the trail by going south on the Appalachian Trail .6 miles.
Elevation Gain: 1,980 feet
Distance: 4.5 miles
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Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
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