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Hard Times Road



4.3 mile 6.8 kilometer point to point
95% Runnable


Ascent: 540' 165 m
Descent: -385' -117 m
High: 2,506' 764 m
Low: 2,017' 615 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 9% (5°)


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Trail shared by Xina Barkley

A wide gravel trail with a nearly constant incline.

Xina Barkley

Features Fall Colors · Wildlife

If you park at the Arboretum, they charge $14/car for parking.

Need to Know

If you park at the Arboretum, they charge $14/car for parking, but your car is more secure there. There have been car break-ins in the Bent Creek area through the years. Also, the forest service and county deputies have been known to patrol the trails and write tickets for off-leash dogs.

Runner Notes

This trail is wide and gravel the whole way, making it a very easy run in that sense.


One end of this trail is at the gatehouse parking area inside the NC Arboretum. The other end is at the Hard Times parking area in Bent Creek. There are restrooms present at each end. No matter which direction you choose to take this trail, you'll start out with a constant incline and end with a descent. Just about in the middle, you'll meet up with the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail/Shut-In Trail.

If you're coming up from the Bent Creek side, not long before the Parkway on your right there will be a spring coming up from the ground. It's a great place for your dogs to stop and get water.

During hunting seasons, it's advised to wear blaze orange or some other bright colors so that hunters can see you. Be sure that your dogs are also wearing bright colors.

You can turn this trail into a loop using Bent Creek Road and Old Mill Trail in the Arboretum. That loop is about 6.25 miles.

Flora & Fauna

Watch out for deer, black bears, turkeys, owls, woodpeckers, and snakes.

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  4.0 from 2 votes
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in North Carolina


44 Views Last Month
657 Since Feb 28, 2019



View of the Bent Creek along the trail
Sep 30, 2018 near Bent Creek, NC
Looking east along the trail
Sep 30, 2018 near Bent Creek, NC
Bent Creek Experimental Forest Hard Times Road
Jan 22, 2020 near Bent Creek, NC
View of the Wesley Branch Trail from the Bent Creek Road
Sep 30, 2018 near Bent Creek, NC
The sign for Hardtimes Trailhead located off of Wesley Branch Road.
Apr 19, 2017 near Bent Creek, NC


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