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Mills River Loop



3.6 mile 5.8 kilometer loop
95% Runnable


Ascent: 315' 96 m
Descent: -332' -101 m
High: 2,556' 779 m
Low: 2,257' 688 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 17% (10°)


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Trail shared by Jason Doedderlein

An easy(ish) 3.5 run with plenty of water crossings.

Jason Doedderlein

Features Fall Colors · Fishing · River/Creek


This is a simple and easy run in the North Mills River area. This run will keep you cool in the summer with 12 river crossings.

There are three distinct sections. First, dropping from the TH down to the river along a descending singletrack trail. Then, you'll follow and criss-cross the river for a while (don't expect to make good time on this run).This is followed by a gentle climb back to the trailhead along a gravel forest road.

Multiple connecting trails if you want to turn this into a longer day.

Need to Know

No restroom at the trailhead. There is one maybe a mile before the trailhead on the right.

This trailhead gets very busy on weekends, particularly in the summer. It is worth getting there early.

I love trail dogs. However, be warned that these crossings are legit. Not hazardous but long and deep enough your pooch will likely be swimming. If you, or they, are not comfortable with that you may want to consider another trail. I would image if you tried to carry they dog you might booth end up in the drink.

Runner Notes

This is a very gentle run with the exception of the downhill during the second half of Trace Ridge Trail. That last section is fairly steep with the typical rock/root fun. It is a blast and is probably the prettiest section of this trail, but it should be noted given the easier nature of the rating.


This run starts at the Trace Ridge Trailhead. Seems most people head northwest from this trailhead but the trail marker for Trace Ridge Trail sends you downhill to the southeast.

The trail starts a bit bland but improves dramatically as it changes to singletrack and starts to descend toward the North Fork of Mills River. The Wash Creek #606 connects about a mile in and then the trail begins to descend more steeply. Continue to follow the trail until you reach the river.

At that point, Trace Ridge Trail ends and the trail will swing to the right, upstream, and becomes North Mills River Trail #353. Continue to follow North Mills River Trail #353 upstream, crossing it about a dozen (no kidding!) times. This trail ends at Hendersonville Reservoir Rd. (FR 142).

At that point, turn right onto this road and follow it back to the parking area. This makes for a varied, easy, scenic, and fun run.

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Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 1 vote


in Trace Ridge


  3.0 from 1 vote
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in Trace Ridge


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55 Views Last Month
88 Since Jan 29, 2020



The last crossing of the North Mills River is quick and doable.
Mar 13, 2017 near Avery C…, NC


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