Trace Ridge Trail #354

3.1 mi - Moderate - This area of the Pisgah District is popular, since there is a varied, interconnecting trail system, of which Trace Ridge Trail is an important link. The southern portion of the trail (approx. ½ mile long) leaves from behind the left side of the bulletin board at the end of the parking area and descends to the North Mills River Trail (#353) and Yellow Gap Trail (#611). There is a small rock outcrop that the trail passes over, which is tricky for horses and bikes, especially when covered by leaves. The trail’s northern portion (approx. 2.6 miles long) begins just beyond the gated road that is uphill of the parking area, and is fairly steep as it climbs up Trace Ridge. There is a short, steep drop to Spencer Gap before finishing the climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are views west to the Big Creek valley during the fall and winter. The trail segment beyond Spencer Branch Trail (#140) is closed to bikes and horses. All users may loop westward on Spencer Branch Trail (#140) and Fletcher Creek Trail (#350). Alternatively, bikes and hikers only may also loop westward via Spencer Branch Trail (#140), Fletcher Creek Trail (#350), and Spencer Gap Trail (#600); or east on Spencer Branch Trail (#140) and FS 5000 (Wash Creek Road).

Approximate Elevation Change: 1,300 feet
Blaze: Orange 

At a Glance

Open Season: Year-round
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Hiking trail: Foot traffic (sections open for mountain bike and/or equestrian use).
Water: no
Restroom: none
Operated By: US Forest Service

General Information

Directions: Leaving the Pisgah District Ranger Station/Visitor Center parking lot, turn left (south) onto US 276. At the first traffic light, turn left (east) on NC 280. Proceed approximately 12.3 miles (past the intersection with NC 191 South) to a traffic light about 200 yards short of the intersection with NC 191 North. Here an official brown and white sign indicates that the “N MILLS RIVER Nat’l Forest Recreation Area” is to your left. Turn left onto North Mills River Road, and then 5 miles to Wash Creek Road (FS 5000), near the North Mills River Campground. Turn right onto FS 5000 and proceed 2 miles to the first left turn, a gravel road. Turn left, cross the low concrete bridge, and drive to the Trace Ridge Trailhead parking area at the gated end of the road.


Mountain Biking

Day Hiking

Horse Riding