This white blazed trail runs close to the Middle Creek Natural Area and goes through beautiful virgin hardwood stands. At higher elevations, the trail goes through spruce, Fraser fir and even some Canadian white birch. Begin of Forest Road 472 and hike along an old forest service road that has switchbacks. Watch for a sign that indicates where the trail leaves the road and goes into the woods for a short distance. Emerge onto an open field and hike straight across. Look for a white blaze across the field, which is where the trail reenters the woods. Follow this trail to another sign that indicates the direction towards the Camp Alice area. Go right here. (This is about 4 miles from the trailhead.) If you go left, you will come out on SR 128, which is the road that leads to the top of Mt. Mitchell. After going right, follow an old level railroad bed. Hike around the flanks of Potato Knob, Clingman's Peak, Mount Gibbes and Cherry Mountain. Continue hiking and come to another old forest service road. Follow this road to the right and hike near some power lines toward Camp Alice. The trail then goes past an old forest service gate and intersects with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the Mt. Mitchell Trail (which overlap here). This is about 8.5 miles from the trailhead. Follow the signs indicating the Buncombe Horse Trail. Continue and intersect with the Big Tom Gap Trail on the left. Hike past a bald which offers a nice camping area and continue toward Maple Camp Bald, which also has good camping. Before reaching this bald, you'll see a rock with "H.T." for horse trail, written on it. It indicates a 180 degree turn to the right (this is at mile 12.5). Follow this trail, which switchbacks down the mountain. It enters some thick woods with many hemlocks. Follow this trail that rejoins an old forest service road. Follow this road and hike past many trail intersections being sure to follow the white blazes. The old forest service road will cross a stream. You will come out on SR 1158, Colbert Creek Road. Note: Unfortunately, this trail can no longer be used in its entirety as a horse trail. The trail is simple too overgrown and narrow between Maple Camp Bald and Colbert Creek Road.
Directions: From Burnsville, NC, Two Access Points: Travel east on US 19E for about 4.3 miles to an access road to SR 80. Turn right (south) and travel .6 mile and turn right again on SR 80 (south). Follow this road for 11.6 miles to the Mt. Mitchell golf course and turn right on Forest Service Road 472. This road changes to gravel. After it changes, you will arrive at an intersection at which you can go straight or take a right. Turn right on this road (Forest Service Road 472). Go past Black Mountain Campground and a parking lot on the left that has a bulletin board with trail maps and information. Follow this road over three bridges and you will then see a pull off to your left. Park here. The trailhead is on the right. OR travel east on US 19E for about 4.3 miles to an access road to SR 80. Turn right (south) and travel .6 mile and turn right again on SR 80 (south). Follow this for 8.2 miles into Hamrick. At the Amoco gas station, take a right on Colbert Creek Road (SR 1158). If you enter the Carolina Hemlock Recreation Area, you have gone too far on SR 80. Follow Colbert Creek Road for about .9 mile. (This involves taking a right and following Colbert Creek Road after going over a bridge at about .6 mile.) No defined parking area.
Elevation: 5,860 feet
Elevation Gain: 3,060 feet
Distance: 18.5 miles
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Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
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