River Loop Trail

At A Glance

Moderate

3.1 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 3.1
Steepness: Few Hills
Tread Condition: Some Obstacles
Blaze Color: Yellow
Trail Number: 200

Description

Described here starting at the hiker parking area at Black Mountain Campground on S. Toe River Road and looping clockwise.

The trail ascends behind the sign boards on a path shared with the Green Knob and Mountains to Sea Trail through a former hemlock grove at the north end of Cove Ridge. In this cove, and along the rest of this loop, most of the hemlocks have been killed by the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. There are only a few hemlocks surviving here, but they're medium-sized so if they continue to thrive they'll be beautiful in a few years once the Adelgid damage falls away. Otherwise, the cove is beautiful and filled with small trees (many of them birches) and ferns.

The trail bends east to a junction at a rocky spot. The Mountains to Sea Trail continues straight, while the River Loop and Green Knob switch back to the right on a side-hill course now heading west. In a few yards, the Green Knob trail splits to the left leaving the path occupied by only the River Loop trail as it moves through a wet area and toward the nose of a ridge. There are some enormous trees growing here; one notable oak in particular is located right next to the trail.

The trail rounds the ridge and turns to a southwesterly direction on the east side of the river as it passes through more lush forest scenes. It rises slightly to a partial view (better in winter) of the Black Mountains range and Mt. Mitchell to the west. You can get a sense of how high the ridge towers over the river valley from this vantage point, even if you can't see the summit itself.

The trail picks up old logging roads in places, where it gets wider, as it undulates up and down some. The trail swings back to the north around a wildlife clearing with some more partial views before a last leg on an old logging road where it makes a sharp turn to meet up with S. Toe River Road. Turn left and cross the river on the concrete bridge.

The trail leaves the road to the right on the other side of the bridge and picks up another series of old logging roads as it heads back toward the campground on the west side of the river, heading northeast. You'll cross a tributary, Camp Creek, on stepping stones and a smaller tributary draining Higgins Bald beyond that. The trail rises above the river some in places and is generally lush and pleasant. At the bottom of Flynn Ridge, you'll make a short descent to the riverside and arrive back at Briar Bottom Group Campground.

Continue straight on the Briar Bottom trail through the campgrounds, past the Setrock Creek Falls and Mount Mitchell trail junctions, to the main Black Mountain Campground Road. The parking area is just ahead at the campground entrance, to the right and across the bridge.

Intersecting Trails

  • Briar Bottom
  • Green Knob
  • Mountains to Sea Section 4
  • This trail is located in the Black Mountains & Toe River area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Black Mountains & Toe River trails list page.

    All Photos from the Trail

    Gallery Permalink

    GPS Map

    Map Information

    Download GPS Data

    Click on a route, trail, or point on the map and select the GPS Data tab to download its data.

    Data Formats

    KML (Google Earth)

    KML is the main file type used by Google Earth. If you have Google Earth installed, clicking the KML link should open the trail or point directly in Google Earth for viewing. This is the native file format used by Google Earth, but many other map applications can use and understand KML as well, so if you're not sure which one to download, KML is a good bet.

    GPX

    The GPX format stands for GPS Exchange - a free, open, XML format for exchanging GPS and map data. GPX is compatible with Google Earth, many other mapping programs, and most GPS devices (such as Garmin). Load the file directly into your GPS to help find your way on your next trip!

    GeoJSON

    GeoJSON is a newer, lightweight data exchange format which can be used to quickly share map data and may have a smaller size than KML or GPX. Many professional mapping and GIS applications support the GeoJSON format.

    About the Map

    Copyright

    Base Layers

    Base layers provided by OpenStreetMap, the US Geological Survey, the US Forest Service, and NC OneMap. Base layer images are subject to the respective copyright policies of their owners. Base layers may not be available at all times due to system maintenance or outages.

    WNCOutdoors Base Layer

    The WNCOutdoors Base layer is provided by WNCOutdoors.info. It is licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

    Trail and Marker Overlays

    Trail layers and downloadable data are all original works created by WNCOutdoors with guidance from a variety of sources, including ensembles of our own GPS tracks, user contributed GPS tracks, official maps and GIS data from government agencies, and field observations. WNCOutdoors data is made freely available under the Open Database License - you are free to copy and use it for any purpose under the terms of that license (summary).

    Tips

    • Hover over a trail to see it highlighted. Helps to see start and end points for an individual trail.
    • Scroll and zoom the map before printing, and that view will persist into the printed image.
    • Click a trail for more details and to download it individually.

    Trail Segments

    Trails are often made up of several connecting paths which may have different characteristics, allowed uses, and seasons. This trail is divided into multiple segments as follows:

    Green Ridge - River Loop - MST

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.29 mi

    River Loop

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 2.55 mi

    Green Ridge - River Loop

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 481 ft

    Total Calculated Length: 2.93 mi

    This value is derived from our underlying map data, and it may not match officially published information.

    Feedback

    Ratings

    Average Rating: 4.0 (rated 1 times)

    Rate It Now:

    Comments

    Jen said: Nice 3 mile hike. Some up and down, some roots and rocks, has an entry point to the river to cool off or enjoy the view, other trail options that intersect if you want to make it longer. Watch for rattle snakes -- we saw one just a foot off the trail when it rattled at us July 3, 2020!

    Sunday, July 5 2020 4:04pm
    Add a Comment


    Your email address will not be displayed, is kept completely private, and is only used to fight comment spam.


    All fields are required.