Trails in the Mills River Trailhead Area

This is your guide to individual trails in the Mills River area.

Here is a list of all trails in the Mills River Trailhead area.

Each trail has its own printable page with all the information and links, including (where available):

  • directions to the starting point
  • difficulty
  • length
  • elevation change
  • a map
  • photos from along the way, and
  • a detailed description and trail directions.

For general information about the Mills River trailhead, see the Mills River Trailhead page.

Need to find trails by another method? Go back to Trails.

Bear Branch Trail

Moderate
  • Follows the creek uphill, starting in a clearing. Travels through mostly white pine and dead hemlocks, then into hardwoods mixed hardwoods near the small stream. Crosses and then ends on FS 5001, making a loop hike possible.
  • 1.3mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Big Creek Trail

More Difficult
  • Follows one of the larger tributaries of the North Mills River. Many creek crossings on the lower half. Steep climb up the Pisgah Ridge on the upper half. High elevation change.
  • 4.9mi, Climbs Steeply, Moderately Rough

Bradley Creek Trail

More Difficult
  • Creekside, backcountry trail. Numerous water crossings will require wading; not passable in high water. May require pathfinding skills - trail disappears into the creek at times. Passes small dam on Bradley Creek.
  • 5.1mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Cantrell Creek Trail

Moderate
  • Sparsely maintained. Passes old Cantrell Creek Lodge site. Trail merges with creek at times.
  • 1.9mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Fletcher Creek Trail

Easy
  • Typical streamside trail for the most part, with cove hardwood forests, hemlocks, fern gardens and log bridges. Some muddy sections are out there, but the trail is mostly dry. It passes through some open meadows rimmed with flowering dogwoods near...
  • 2.4mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Horse Cove Gap Trail

Moderate
  • 0.7mi, ,

Laurel Creek Trail

Moderate
  • Follows the creek closely at lower end. Switches back & is very steep at upper end as it climbs the ridge.
  • 1.8mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Laurel Mountain Trail

More Difficult
  • Long, narrow, backcountry singletrack trail which reaches high elevations. Climbs gradually from Yellow Gap Road (FR 1206) to the Buck Spring Trail; however, there are a few steep sections. Several unmarked trails join from either side, so keep an...
  • 7.4mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Laurel Mountain Connector Trail

Easy
  • Short; moderately steep. Mostly mixed, high elevation hardwood forest. Rocky in places.
  • 0.3mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Middle Fork Trail

Easy
  • The trail follows an old railroad grade; you may notice some of the old ties still in the ground. It follows or crosses the Middle Fork of the North Mills River for its entire length. You will pass some wildlife fields, which are maintained by the...
  • 1mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Mullinax Trail

Moderate
  • From the S. Mills River trail, climbs on an eroded old roadbed through nondescript forest to a nice campsite in a gap, just after crossing a small stream. The trail makes a hard right to the north on another road bed, which heads uphill into the...
  • 1.2mi, ,

North Mills River Trail

Easy
  • Scenic and mostly level, but many river crossings where the trail is difficult to follow. River crossings may be impassible in high water.
  • 1.6mi, Some Hills, Moderately Rough

Pilot Cove Loop Trail

Moderate
  • In what could be one of the most bizarre naming situations in all of Pisgah, this trail is neither in a cove nor is it a loop. Rather, the best reasoning I can come up with for its name is that this ridge-top trail *enables* you to hike a loop above...
  • 1.8mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Pilot Cove - Slate Rock Trail

Moderate
  • Starting at the eastern end, this trail begins by following Slate Rock Creek. This is an easy to moderate grade with several stream crossings. Slate Rock Creek is typical of mountain streams, with small cascades and an abundance of mosses and ferns....
  • 4.3mi, Climbs Steeply, Moderately Rough

Pilot Rock Trail

Moderate
  • Climbs somewhat steeply from Yellow Gap Road (FR 1206) up to the Buck Spring/Mountains to Sea trail near Mount Pisgah on the Parkway. Initially crosses a creek, then climbs through a cove forest gradually getting farther from it. Passes through many...
  • 3.6mi, Climbs Steeply, Moderately Rough

Riverside Trail

Moderate
  • As its name implies, this trail follows the river (South Mills) and Bradley Creek, both of which you cross several times. Scenic. Expect to get wet up to your knees on this one. Impassible in high water.
  • 4mi, Climbs Gently, Moderately Rough

South Mills River Trail

  • This is a stream side trail along an old road bed for much of its length; pulls away from the river along one section around High Falls. Crosses the river using bridges (concrete and suspension bridges) and fords it many times as well. There are some...
  • 12mi, Climbs Gently, Moderately Rough

Spencer Branch Trail

Moderate
  • The upper end of this trail, above FS 5097 (Neverending Road), was recently rerouted onto a much more reasonable grade with a few switchbacks, to replace the old, extremely steep and rocky drop down from Trace Ridge. It's now an easy climb or...
  • 2.3mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Spencer Gap Trail

Moderate
  • Old roadbed. I've seen deer on this trail nearly every time I've traveled it.
  • 1.6mi, Climbs Steeply, Some Obstacles

Squirrel Gap Trail

Moderate
  • This is a long, backcountry trail. It's purpose-built trail that doesn't follow many logging roads - a rarity in Pisgah. From where this trail leaves the Bradley Creek Trail, it follows an easy grade to the old Mullinax homeplace where there is a...
  • 7.5mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough

Trace Ridge Trail

Moderate
  • The upper portion above the Trace Ridge trailhead follows an old roadbed up the ridge all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rocky; steep. Very eroded in places. Dry pine-oak forests can be found along the nondescript ridge. Downhill from the...
  • 3.1mi, Climbs Steeply, Some Obstacles

Turkey Pen Gap Trail

More Difficult
  • Long ridgeline trail which undulates up and down over the various knobs on its summit. Very steep in places; has some issues with erosion as well. It winds onto the edge of private land in places; stay on the trail. Travels through a typical...
  • 5.5mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough

Vineyard Gap Trail

Moderate
  • 2.3mi, ,

Wash Creek Trail

Easy
  • 0.8mi, ,

Yellow Gap Trail

Moderate
  • 2.4mi, ,

Nearby Trails

The following trails cross into this trailhead area, but are primarily accessed from another trailhead:

Foster Creek Trail

Easy
  • Pleasant, easy trail travels through the lowlands beside Foster Creek, in a rather detached section of Pisgah National Forest. No intersections with any other trails (except the old logging road). Mostly white pine and cove hardwood forests, with an...
  • 1.59mi, Some Hills, Few Obstacles
  • Pisgah Ranger District Trailhead

Mountains to Sea Section 3 Trail

Most Difficult
  • **Pisgah Inn to Black Mountain Campground** Pisgah Inn, BRP mp 408.6 to Folk Art Center, BRP mp 382: from the Pisgah Inn to the Mount Pisgah Parking Area, the trail is co-signed as the Buck Spring trail. This leads past the old Buck Spring Lodge...
  • 67.7mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Section 5 Trailhead

Mountains to Sea Section 2 Trail

Most Difficult
  • **Waterrock Knob to Pisgah Inn** From Waterrock Knob to Flat Gap, the trail follows the Blue Ridge Parkway closely at most times. It gains some distance from the motor road on the southwest slope of the ridge line from there to Haywood Gap. From...
  • 61.0mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Section 6 Trailhead

Shut-In Trail

Most Difficult
  • The Shut-In Trail is a long, historic route which shares the path with the Mountains to Sea Trail. It travels from NC 191 near Bent Creek and Asheville to the Mount Pisgah parking area. George W. Vanderbilt, builder of the famous Biltmore Estate near...
  • 16.3mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough
  • Bent Creek Trailhead

Pink Beds Loop Trail

Moderate
  • An excellent loop which travels around the bottom of a unique valley. This is the "Cradle of Forestry in America", where modern forestry techniques were first developed, taught & practiced. Trail is mostly level with a few small hills on north...
  • 5mi, Few Hills, Some Obstacles
  • Davidson River Trailhead

Buckhorn Gap Trail

More Difficult
  • Several creek crossings on lower end. Log bridges. Cove hardwood/dense hemlock forests w/ some huge hemlocks. Intersects short spur to Twin Falls (highly recommended). Intersects Avery Creek trail. Trail has recently undergone extensive...
  • 4.6mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles
  • Davidson River Trailhead

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