Daniel Ridge Loop Trail

At A Glance


4 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 4 (Moderate)
Steepness: Hilly
Tread Condition: Some Obstacles
Blaze Color: Red
Trail Number: 105

This trail is located in the Davidson River area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Davidson River trails list page.


The naming of this trail appears to be kind of a flub as it's not anywhere near Daniel Ridge itself; instead, the trail is on a spur of Lanning Ridge. Daniel Ridge is two mountains farther west. Described here clockwise, this trail can be hiked either direction.

To start, this loop follows an old road upstream. The trail passes through a typical cove hardwood forest with a hemlock graveyard/nursery (though the fate of the youngsters is yet to be decided, many small ones are still alive as of 2018). The trail passes an old fish hatchery, begins a moderate climb, becomes much rockier, and splits: the left path parallels the river and passes some nice cascades. The right path stays on the old road bed with views down to the stream. Both forks come back together again shortly before a wet area and the ruins of an old bridge over Right Fork.

Bear right; the trail narrows as it climbs Right Fork between Lanning Ridge and Fork River Ridge. It clings to the steep hillside in places. This section is very rocky and eroded. Tall, straight tuliptrees grow in a beautiful cove hardwood forest along Right Fork. You'll come out at a set of steps and the intersection with the Farlow Gap trail; turn right.

This begins a slight descent over a couple of wet-weather tributaries back to a moderate climb. The trail passes through a couple of eroded switchbacks and then enters a beautiful open area on a gentler slope with the steep mountainside looming overhead. It travels through mostly smaller trees - mixed hardwoods, red spruce, and a few surviving hemlocks, with the occasional larger oak or beech.

At the crest of the ridge, a trail connecting to FS 225 (Cove Creek Road) appears on the left; bear right. The trail starts descending through logged areas, somewhat steeply at times. The trail crosses FS 5046; continue straight across and continue descending. The trail levels out, descends again, then starts crossing tributary streams - both rock-hops and on plank & log bridges.

The trail is traveling through plateau-like valley by this point in a forest of hemlocks, rhododendrons, and twisted old Mountain Laurel, arching over the trail at times. There are some openings (meadows, fields) in the forest that provide habitat for wildlife. It is still heading in a general downhill direction although it undulates up and down in places.

(As of April 2018, materials appear to be stacked up beside the trail for some bridge replacements, which is a good thing - some are falling apart and built atop the original logging timbers laid half a century or more ago!)

The trail follows the gathering stream downhill and passes the top of Toms Spring Falls (a.k.a. Daniel Ridge Falls) and then goes around a long switchback section. It returns to meet FS 5046 (Lanning Ridge Road) near the bottom of the falls. Turn left at the intersection to reach the base of falls; turn right to close the loop.

All Photos from the Trail

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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:

Lanning Ridge Rd. - Davidson River Rd. to Daniel Ridge Loop

  • Allowed Uses:
  • Length: 0.26 mi

Davidson River Rd - 477 to Lanning Ridge Rd.

  • Allowed Uses:
  • Length: 0.12 mi

Daniel Ridge Loop - FS 5046 to Farlow Gap Tr.

  • Allowed Uses:
  • Length: 1.76 mi

Daniel Ridge Loop - Farlow Gap To Falls

  • Allowed Uses:
  • Length: 2.24 mi

Total Calculated Length: 4.39 mi

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

Intersecting Trails

  • Farlow Gap
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