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
  • Going uphill, starts in a clearing, and then becomes a fairly technical and moderately steep route. Recommended direction is downhill, however, and you can make a nice loop using FS 5001 (a gated logging road).
  • 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. Carry bikes across Blue Ridge Parkway property.
  • 4.9mi, Climbs Steeply, Moderately Rough

Bradley Creek Trail

More Difficult
  • Fun creekside, backcountry trail. Numerous water crossings (the deep, rocky, wading type). Good trail for a hot day. Log after log after log across the trail (touch up on your bunny hopping skills!). At some of the creek crossings, it is difficult to...
  • 5.1mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Cantrell Creek Trail

Moderate
  • Sparsely maintained. Passes old Cantrell Creek Lodge site. Connects the middle of Squirrel Gap trail with South Mills River trail. Formerly, this trail was heavily eroded and merged with creek in places. However, the trail has recently been...
  • 1.9mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Fletcher Creek Trail

Easy
  • Passing through some open fields which have been used to grow corn in the past, the upper part of this trail makes a very fun downhill: it's fast, gradual, winding, and just steep and bumpy enough to spice it up. Fields can get overgrown with weeds...
  • 2.4mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Horse Cove Gap Trail

Moderate
  • 0.7mi, ,

Laurel Creek Trail

Moderate
  • A little overgrown with doghobble, but an otherwise nice trail; climbs by a creek in a scenic deep cove, then the narrow trail climbs up small, steep ridge. Some erosion on ridge.
  • 1.8mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Laurel Mountain Trail

More Difficult
  • Long, narrow, backcountry singletrack trail which reaches high elevations. Overall, it's a gradual climb but it does feature some very technical spots and steep climbs. In addition to that, there are fast sections where you can stay in the middle...
  • 7.4mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Laurel Mountain Connector Trail

Easy
  • Connects Laurel Mt. tr. to Pilot Rock tr. Technical, moderately steep but very short.
  • 0.3mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Middle Fork Trail

Easy
  • Traveling beside Middle Fork (stream) and crossing it once on an old railroad grade, the upper section is moderately sloped and bumpy with one section that has many logs laid across the trail side by side for erosion control. The lower section is a...
  • 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. Technical in spots. The trail makes a hard right to the north on another road bed, which heads...
  • 1.2mi, ,

North Mills River Trail

Easy
  • Fairly level but technical and has many river crossings where the trail is difficult to follow. Very little riding and a lot of wading. Impassible in high water.
  • 1.6mi, Some Hills, Moderately Rough

Pilot Cove Loop Trail

Moderate
  • Confusingly, this trail is neither a loop nor is it really in Pilot Cove - rather it runs along a ridge, Forked Ridge at first and then Slate Rock Ridge. But it does start in Pilot Cove, on the Pilot Cove-Slate Rock trail not far from FS 1206, so...
  • 1.8mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Pilot Cove - Slate Rock Trail

Moderate
  • Fun creekside trail, rocky and rooty sections. There are several stream crossings and some small waterfalls on the creek. Steep sections as it goes over the gap on Slate Rock Ridge. Watch out or you will end up on the Laurel Mountain trail at...
  • 4.3mi, Climbs Steeply, Moderately Rough

Pilot Rock Trail

Moderate
  • This trail is a blast and is nearly always ridden downhill. It's steep, with many sharp switchbacks. Very rocky; has a rock garden that's nearly impossible to ride, and many waterbars. Test out your suspension here! Great views from the top of Pilot...
  • 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. Few hills, some rocky and rooty sections. 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. Some roots and rocks spice up the ride here and there. Crosses the river using bridges (concrete and suspension)...
  • 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 reasonably graded trail. It is now more of a flowing trail, albeit with some deliberately placed rock gardens and a few other features to spice up...
  • 2.3mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Spencer Gap Trail

Moderate
  • Connects Wash Creek Road to the Trace Ridge trail. Running just below the Blue Ridge Parkway, this trail is hilly and somewhat rocky. One steep part toward Wash Creek Road. Slightly overgrown. I've seen deer on this trail twice.
  • 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. It's excellent - fast, technical, and fun narrow singletrack clinging to the mountainside in most places. Intersects Mullinax,...
  • 7.5mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough

Trace Ridge Trail

Moderate
  • Uphill from the Trace Ridge trailhead parking lot, this trail follows an old roadbed to the parkway. It is a rocky trail: either a fast, bumpy downhill, or a steep, technical uphill. Highly recommended! Downhill from the trailhead, this trail was...
  • 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. Enables a connection with trails...
  • 5.5mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough

Vineyard Gap Trail

Moderate
  • 2.3mi, ,

Wash Creek Trail

Easy
  • Short connector from Hendersonville Reservoir Road, FS 142, to the Trace Ridge trail on an old road bed. Crosses a small seep and passes into a recently logged area near the junction.
  • 0.8mi, Climbs Gently, Few Obstacles

Yellow Gap Trail

Moderate
  • 2.4mi, ,

Nearby Trails

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

Mountains to Sea Section 3 Trail

Most Difficult

Pink Beds Loop Trail

Moderate
  • Seasonal Use Only. Note: only north half of loop is open to bikes. Rhododendron & Mtn. Laurel tunnels. Trail travels through some open fields on old, narrow roadbed. Undulates up and down near beginning at picnic area; then drops thru a fun...
  • 5mi, Few Hills, Some Obstacles
  • Davidson River Trailhead

Buckhorn Gap Trail

More Difficult
  • Many creek crossings on the lower end and then it's a stiff, moderately technical, rocky climb to the gap. Some eroded places and waterbars. Merges with and follows a gravel road near the top. Not ridden N. of Buckhorn Gap down to S. Mills R. See...
  • 4.6mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles
  • Davidson River Trailhead

Foster Creek Trail

Easy
  • This is an excellent, easy trail, and a great loop for beginners wanting to sample some singletrack riding, with low elevation changes. It travels through a forest of mostly white pines with an understory of mountain laurel and a vast cover of ground...
  • 1.59mi, Some Hills, Few Obstacles
  • Pisgah Ranger District Trailhead

Black Mountain Trail

Most Difficult
  • This heavily-used trail features incredible views, riding along a needle-sharp ridgeline, and lots of rock outcroppings and boulders. The trail itself is notable for its waterbars, switchbacks, and (unfortunately) heavily eroded sections. Either...
  • 9.8mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough
  • Davidson River Trailhead

Mountains to Sea Section 2 Trail

Most Difficult

Shut-In Trail

Most Difficult

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