Hickory Branch Trail
At A Glance
1.6 mi one-way
Difficulty Rating: 7.02
Steepness: Climbs Moderately
Tread Condition: Some Obstacles
Lowest Elevation: 2990 ft
Highest Elevation: 2990 ft
Climb Total: 2990 ft
Blaze Color: Orange
Trail Number: 213
The orange-blazed trail starts across the road from the parking area, on the hill behind campsite #16c. Look for the tall brown stake which serves as the trailhead sign. The trail begins by climbing to the top of the ridge. Don't go straight up; turn left to follow an actual trail around a switchback which comes out in the same spot at the top of the ridge.
Descend the other side of the ridge through some newly built switchbacks. At the bottom of the descent, the trail crosses Hickory Branch. You may be able to rock-hop and stay dry, but if the water is up it may be tricky. The trail heads upstream on the river-left of the creek, passing a well-used campsite, with some wet sections along the way. It passes through a scenic cove with mossy green logs and extensive thickets of doghobble and rhododendron.
In 0.3 miles, the trail crosses to the left side of the creek. After another 0.2 miles it gets a little steeper and veers left up a side drainage. It levels out again, and on the left is a rocky outcrop like an imposing wall. You'll see falls on Hickory Branch below on your right. A short, tricky side path leads down to the falls opposite the outcrop, dropping very steeply for the last few feet.
The trail continues up and around the falls, crossing near the brink, so use caution here. The trail takes on a hilly course that crosses the stream several more times in the next 0.2 mi. One stretch of trail gets squeezed by a big rock into a side channel that fills during floods. The trail passes a small landslide scar on the left, and then you can see another waterfall ahead and to the right. The trail crosses a tributary and comes to the base of the upper waterfall at a switchback. A short path leads to the upper falls.
Beyond the upper falls, the trail steepens and continues steadily uphill. It climbs a series of switchbacks up the nose of a small ridge; the forest quickly transitions to a dry pine-oak habitat before the sound of the waterfall below even fades away. The environment here is starkly different than the lush, green cove you can still see just below you when the leaves are off.
The trail climbs the spine of the ridge through a pine forest for a while before sliding off to the right; another switchback brings you back up to the top of the ridge where a semi-cleared area (possibly from a wildfire) affords some limited views toward Laurel Knob and Green Knob along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The trail slips off the ridge one last time into more of a mixed forest before coming to a junction with the Lead Mine Gap trail on the main ridge at an elevation of just under 3000 ft. Most of the trail's elevation is gained on this last stretch beyond the upper falls.
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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.
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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).
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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:
Hickory Branch - Campground to Hickory Branch Falls
- Allowed Uses: Hiking
- Length: 0.6 mi
Hickory Branch - Lower Falls to Upper Falls
- Allowed Uses: Hiking
- Length: 0.27 mi
Hickory Branch - Upper Falls to Top
- Allowed Uses: Hiking
- Length: 0.77 mi
Total Calculated Length: 1.63 mi
This value is derived from our underlying map data, and it may not match officially published information.
Average Rating: 3.0 (rated 1 times)
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