Big Butt TR 161

The trail gently climbs in a southeasterly direction to the Wilson Range and switchbacks during its elevation gain. Eventually the trail levels out to join an old four-wheel drive road which follows the Buncombe-Yancey county lines. After two miles the path turns back to single track. The trail then climbs to Flat Springs Knob, descends to Flat Springs Gap. The trail never actually touches Big Butt Peak, but it dips south to Little Butt Peak. The trail climbs again where great views are offered. Finally, the trail follows Brush Fence Ridge and enters Fraser fir woods for a half mile before the Balsam Gap pull-off on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is primitive camping near Flat Springs Fap and Balsam Gap.

Total Length: 6 miles

Total Elevation Change: 1,430 feet

Degree of Difficulty: Moderate

Beginning Point: NC 197 at Cane River Gap

Ending Point: Blue Ridge Parkway at Balsam Gap

Average Hiking Time: 4 hours (one way)

Amount of Use: Light

Blaze Color: White

Area Trail Map: South Toe River, Mount Mitchell & Big Ivy Trail Map

USGS Quad Maps: Mount Mitchell and Montreat

At a Glance

Area Amenities: Tent camping

General Information


From Burnsville, go east on US 19E for 1/2 mile and turn right onto NC 197S. Follow this road through Pensacola. When NC 197 becomes a gravel road at Cane River Gap, the trailhead is on the left and is marked by a Forest Service gate. The trail starts just before this gate on the left. No signs mark the trailhead.


Day Hiking

Viewing Scenery


Tent camping: Primitive camping near Flat Springs Gap and Balsam Gap