Buckeye Gap Trail
Details At a Glance
Trailhead: Middle Prong Wilderness
Overall Difficulty: Most Difficult
Steepness: Climbs Steeply
Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Blaze Color: None
USGS/USFS Number: 126
Allowed Uses: Hiking
From the lower end at jct. with Haywood Gap Trail, the trail climbs steeply up an old logging skid road near Grassy Ridge Branch. The tread is narrow, but generally in good shape and well worn enough to be obvious. The mountainside here is steep and grassy, with mixed northern hardwoods and an occasional spruce or dying hemlock.
The trail crosses Grassy Ridge Branch above and below some small cascades, moderates some, and then climbs again steeply before reaching the top of what must be named Grassy Ridge (even though it's not on any map). Not surprisingly, the ridge is covered in beautiful soft grass - a striking sight when compared to the lush but varied understory common in the area. It then passes through a small clearing. Beyond the clearing, the trail climbs steeply again, with rhododendron and red spruce becoming more common.
The trail eventually reaches an old railroad grade and makes a sharp right. From here the grade is gentle, and the tread is a bit rockier (and you have to negotiate some old railroad ties too). There are stands of large red spruce, and some openings where smooth blackberries are overgrowing the trail. There are a few fair views to the West back into the Middle Prong Wilderness. The trail ends where the the Mountains to Sea Trail joins the old railroad grade, and that path follows the same old route all the way back to the Parkway at Buckeye Gap.
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