3.2 mi - Moderate - This trail—essentially a loop—is a nice family hike with a variety of vegetation types and scenery. The trail initially follows Starnes Branch amidst large hemlock trees. After crossing the branch, the trail becomes moderate in difficulty and makes a rather constant climb to a higher and drier sideslope. Take heart, because in a less than a mile the trail levels out, winding in and out of several drainages. In the fall and winter, there are some nice views, which are more easily enjoyed when hiking in this direction (rather than starting at the eastern trailhead): They include Pilot Mountain, the lush Davidson River valley, and glimpses of the French Broad River valley and Schenck Job Corps Center. The last ½ mile is a fairly steep descent back to US 276. Upon reaching the highway at the trail’s eastern trailhead, walk alongside the highway for 200 yards to return to the suspension bridge.
Approximate Elevation Change: 400 feet
At a Glance
Mountain Biking Trail: Mountain biking and hiking trail. Bikers please yield to hikers. Mountain biking prohibited in wilderness areas.
US Forest Service
Directions: Leaving parking lot of Pisgah District Ranger Station/Visitor Center, turn left on US 276. Go ¼ mile and turn right onto the Davidson River Campground access road. Start from the Art Loeb Trailhead parking lot, on the left. (Alternate parking sites/starting points are shown on the Ranger Station Area Trail Guide handout available at the Ranger Station Visitor Center.) Go behind the gate at the end of the parking lot and follow the dirt road as it passes a suspension footbridge on the right. Cross a small stream; then follow the trail as it turns left and crosses US 276. Sycamore Cove Trail begins here, and ends at US 276 approximately 200 yards east.