“Run along the MST to the rock ruins of the early-1900s mountain retreat of Dr. Chase P. Ambler.”
— Erik Anthony
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views
Should be accessible even when the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed.
To access this loop, use the small trailhead parking at Bull Gap Trailhead. The surface of this loop is mostly dirt and rocks. There are no paved sections of trail. Along the route, there are various remnants of the Lodge that can be seen. It's best to bring your own water.
Use caution as there are various areas where precipitation, streams, and leaves in the fall might slow you down. Areas have mixtures of small/large rocks and small/large roots. The trail narrows in some areas.
Park at Bull Gap Trailhead off of Ox Creek Road. The trailhead parking is small and not signed well, making it easy to miss.
Head past the trailhead, then turn left onto the MST. You'll head uphill for a little over 0.5 miles of switchbacks. After all the switchbacks, continue to the east. The elevation climb is gentle but, depending on weather (e.g. recent rain) and season (e.g. late fall), the trail may be obscured by leaves or made slippery by rainfall - or a combination of both.
Use caution as some rocks and roots may be hidden. The trail does have some drop off to the side. After about 1.0 total miles, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Lane Pinnacle to the east through the trees.
At 1.2 total miles, you'll come to a "gateway" of sorts, with two large rocks on either side of the trail. This is the entrance to Dr. Chase P. Ambler's Rattlesnake Lodge.
After 1.5 total miles of travel, you'll arrive at the Lodge's summer retreat. While the area is mostly ruinous, you'll see the former swimming pool's stone foundation off to the right. Further on, the area plateaus out for a bit, and you'll notice some fire rings and camp spots are now where the former yard once stood. There are several places to stop and take a break or grab a snack.
Head further along the MST and you'll come to a fork with a blue-blazed trail. To the left, you'll see the remains of Dr. Ambler's toolshed, with a large tree growing over top of the foundation. Continue on the blue-blazed, Rattlesnake Lodge Trail
uphill for about 0.25 miles to reach the Lodge's main water reservoir (although it looks that it could also have been a swimming pool). While not difficult per se, this uphill stretch can be strenuous, and a mixture of rocks, moisture, and leaves can make it extra challenging.
Head on another 0.25 miles to reach [what used to be] the Lodge's spring. Glimpses of water pipe may be seen along the trails as well.
Eventually, you'll reach a trail intersection; continue to the right on the MST downhill through a tunnel of trees as it heads south and through a few more switchbacks. After about 2.25 total miles, you should come to the remnants of a stone chimney, part of Dr. Ambler's former home. Continue on and you'll pass a stream - one that likely provided power to the Lodge.
At 2.4 total miles, you'll have completed the loop. Head on the MST back to the trailhead.
Flora & Fauna
Rhododendron and mountain laurel.
History & Background
Rattlesnake Lodge was the early 1900s summer retreat of Dr. Chase P. Ambler, an Asheville physician and conservationist.