“A great loop along a stream (multiple crossings) and then up and along a ridge.
— Mike Taylor
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildlife
This is one of my favorite routes in this area. It is through a hardwood forest sprinkled with pine, so it is cool even in the summer with all the tree cover. There are multiple stream crossings, some strenuous running up and over the ridge, and the views are excellent. All in all this run offers variety for the easy/intermediate runner.
Need to Know
Because this is a National Forest, there are some rules that apply to make the the experience safe, and to keep the natural resources scenic and unspoiled for other campers.
There is no fee or permit for dispersed camping (outside a designated campsite). Group size is limited to no more than 10 people. Camping stay is limited to 21 consecutive days. Please place your campsite at least 200 feet from a stream or any other watersource. Practice 'Pack-In/ Pack-Out' camping. There are nor amenities such as water and restrooms nor trash cans.
Follow 'Leave No Trace' guidelines.
Hang your food in this area, I had a bear get into my food back that was only tied off to a tree (Ursack). He wasn't interested in me.. just the food.
There are some stretches along the river that have sticker bushes.. they are plentiful and will 'slow' your run if they touch your pack or clothing.. so be careful and try to run when they are high (mid-summer).
In the fall the trail is covered with leaves along the ridge so it will be hiding the stones on the path. Be careful not to twist your ankle if you run on the trails in the fall.
There is plenty parking at the lot on the east side of Highway-250. The run is basically broken into 2 main sections: The stream and the ridge. Running up Ramsey's Draft Trail, the trail follows a gentle slope upward on a well-travelled path so its easy to stay on track. It follows the edge of the river and though the water is only knee deep you'll be crossing the stream eight or nine times along the way. This is one of the main attractions - to test their skills crossing the stream. Some areas provide rocks to hop if you don't want to get your feet wet, but don't count on it and be prepared to get your shoes wet.
There are multiple level camping spots along the river with stone fire rings, but you can camp anywhere you like.
The next section of the run leaves the water's edge and ascends a 12% slope up to the junction with Hiner Springs Trail
and Hiner's Spring (a great source of water and camping). The area opens to a meadow and the natural spring has plenty of water in the springtime, but dries up in late summer. This may be the last water you see on the loop, if you are running clockwise.
Running up and over the ridge is quite strenuous with many up and down segments, but the trail is well marked and you're rewarded with excellent views that open to the north and south. Some of the trail is rocky, some is pine needles, and some just a dirt path. And of course, some is water and rock hopping to cross the stream. If you take this when Rhododendrons are in bloom you'll have a spectacular show. Join up with Bridge Hollow Trail
heading west. This last stretch back down to the water is steep and rocky, so watch your step, especially if it's been raining.
Flora & Fauna
Rhododendrons bloom along the trail, but you'll have to run up on the ridge to see them.
Hardwood forest will will provide plenty of beauty and firewood for your campfire.
There are bears in this area, but I have only seen scat.. the bears don't like the people and I'm glad for that.
History & Background
Some wood boring beetles attached this area a few years back and killed off many of the Hickory trees. You'll see some them dead and fallen along the path.