This 10.8 mile intensive loop hiking trail starts easy at the entrance to the Rocky Knob campground around milepost 167 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then the trail descends over three miles into the backcountry camping area in the bottom of the gorge. The strenuous and rugged nature of the trail reveals part of the reason this pathway was given National Recreational Trail status.
Also, in the springtime to early summer, nearly 200 varieties of wildflowers are visible along the trail area. The rest of the trail is a 7.3-mi ascent back out of the gorge on the return trail. You’ll see tunnels of rhododendron and other thick mountain foliage, a splashing stream, and high open meadows.
The elevations range from 1,700 to 3,572 ft. A few small historic structures are visible along the trail, including a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.
The lower, flat part of this trail is named Rock Castle Creek and includes it’s own parking lot.