“This challenging 3.6-mile run loops back around to a watering hole for a refreshing day in the forest.
— Jillian Langston
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildlife
The Coontree Loop is a great option for those looking to run a moderate distance through dense hardwood forests. Steep grades will test your mettle along the way, but your gorgeous surroundings, and some incredible wintertime views, will make it all worth it.
Need to Know
When driving north on 276 in Pisgah National Forest, the parking lot for this trailhead will be on the left. Next to the parking lot is a picnic area with restrooms and a watering hole that is popular in the summer. The trailhead is across the street from the southern entrance of the parking lot.
Check out this area in the wintertime to experience the best views. The rest of the year, the trail's dense foliage can make views difficult to find.
From the trailhead, head north on the trail as it follows along Coontree Creek. After roughly 1,500 feet, the trail reaches a fork. While both directions provide plenty of steep grades, most people do the loop counterclockwise (as mapped). Heading down the right fork, climb your way up the following drainage to reach Coontree Gap and a junction with the Bennett Gap Trail
. Head west on Bennett Gap Trail
to tackle the southeast ridge of Coontree Mountain.
Once you've made it nearly to the top of the mountain, keep your eyes peeled for a junction with the Coontree Gap Trail
veering off to the left. Jump on the Coontree Gap Trail
and make a steady descent down the steep, winding grades ahead of you. After a little while, the trail picks up Coontree Creek again and follows it south to reach the first junction of the day and your return trail to the parking area.