Yellowbelly Trail #096
ElevationAscent: 1,581' 482 m
Descent: -123' -38 m
High: 8,410' 2,563 m
Low: 6,946' 2,117 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“Five spectacular lakes in five miles.”— Joseph States
Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Anyway, from the second, better parking area the trail wanders through the woods to Mays Creek Trail #192 that merges in from the right. Almost immediately the trail forks with Pettit Lake Cutoff Trail #041 peeling off to the left. Continue on to the wilderness boundary and get signed in. The trail stays fairly level until you get to the creek crossing that has no bridge. Either head 100 feet upstream to a large log to cross or get those boots off and tenderfoot it across.
Now comes the steady climb all the way to Farley Lake. Be sure to be on the lookout for short side trails that have bonus waterfalls and tiny unnamed lakes to see. Farley Lake is your halfway up mark. There are tons of camping areas along the trail and around the various lakes. Continue gaining altitude and enjoying the various waterfalls and lakes. Halfway from Farley Lake to Toxaway Lake is the junction of Edith Lake Trail #040 that climbs hard to the right from a clearing with a poorly spelled trail sign. After having a good laugh at the blundered sign stay left to continue on to "TOXWAY". Three more small lakes and a final push takes you up into Toxaway Lake! The trail ends where it meets Alice Lake - Redfish Lake Trail #092 just above an excellent camping area complete with sandy beaches below.
Once you arrive at Toxaway Lake, you may want to take a swim out to the island as we did. If you do take the plunge, please be very self-aware and conscience of your hypothermia risks as it is incredibly brisk water and it only gets colder in the middle. We swam as a group and kept close tabs on each other. Even so, it was a while on the island warming up to safely make the return trip.