James E. Edmond Trail (Backcountry)
7.2 mile loop. Rated difficult to strenuous.
The 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail, named in honor of one of the park’s first rangers, offers both day hiking and backcountry camping. This trail is quite steep in a number of places and is rated as “moderate to strenuous.” In laurel-filled coves, the trail follows cascading streams with small waterfalls. In the northernmost section of the park, the trail climbs to the summit of Lookoff Mountain and offers a stunning vista of Wolffork Valley and surrounding mountain ranges. Backcountry Camping by Permit Only. Camping allowed on four designated campsites. See map for exact locations. Advance reservations required. Call 1-800-864-7275.
Black Rock Lake Trail
0.85 mile loop. Rated easy.
The loop around scenic Black Rock Lake, completed in 2007, is a wonderful addition to the park’s trail system. The 17-acre lake is unspoiled by development and is rimmed by forests of white pine and yellow poplar. The gently rolling 0.85-mile loop is rated “easy” and is perfectly suited for beginners. Wooden bridges cross Taylor Creek and Greasy Creek, the two cascading streams that feed Black Rock Lake, and an 80-foot bridge spans Cricket Cove on the lake’s southwest corner. A wheelchair-accessible pier adjacent Turtle Rock and a 160-foot wooden boardwalk allow anglers a chance to fish for bass, bream, catfish, yellow perch and rainbow trout. In addition, several tables along shady Taylor Creek offer the perfect location for a creek-side picnic.
ADA Hi Falls Trail
0.25 mile one way. Rated moderate to difficult.
The ADA Hi Falls Trail provides a delightful but challenging walk into an outstanding example of a moist, north-slope Appalachian cove. The trail features mature hardwoods, lichen-covered rocks, a variety of ferns and wildflowers, and a dense thicket of rhododendron. At the trail’s end is the observation platform for noisy ADA Hi Falls, a small cascade typical of those found at the higher elevations throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Tennessee Rock Trail
2.2 mile loop. Rated moderate to difficult.
The yellow-blazed 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail, winding its way through some of the highest and lushest forests, is the park’s most popular hiking trail. Rated by experienced hikers as “easy to moderate,” the trail offers most visitors a perfect opportunity to get better acquainted with the area’s rich woodlands and vistas, that on clear days span over 80 miles into the neighboring states of both North and South Carolina, as well as Tennessee. The effects from an EF-2 tornado are clearly visible on the trail’s western edge, as hikers begin the climb to Black Rock Mountain’s summit. While the damage to the forest is saddening to an extent, downed trees have enhanced vistas at several points along the trail and opened the thick woods for new growth.
Norma Campbell Cove Trail
0.10 mile loop. Rated easy.
This is the park’s newest trail which is named after the late Norma Campbell, a popular park naturalist who first proposed the development of the Marie Mellinger Center. The 0.10-mile scenic trail begins at the Center on the southern edge of the Eastern Continental Divide and descends into the upper reaches of a densely-wooded, south-facing cove. Hikers pass by huge rock outcrops framed by ferns, mayapple and trillium and will see gurgling springs that flow down the cove into Stekoa Creek, one of the principal tributaries of the federally-designated “wild and scenic” Chattooga River. Several log benches allow hikers to relax in the shade and enjoy this lush Appalachian hollow.