Asheville, NC: Woody Ridge Trail

This challenging 4.8-miler in the Black Mountains features a stiff climb past rhododendron and rocky outcrops to a windswept ridge connecting Celo Knob and Gibbs Mountain.
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This challenging 4.8-miler in the Black Mountains features a stiff climb past rhododendron and rocky outcrops to a windswept ridge connecting Celo Knob and Gibbs Mountain.

Roughly an hour from Asheville, this challenging trek on Woody Ridge Trail climbs to a ridgeline connecting Gibbs Mountain and Celo Knob. From the parking area, walk up an old road blazed with yellow paint. The piercing call of the Acadian Flycatcher and the tumbling waters of Shuford Creek can be heard in the background. After 0.2 mile, stay left at a Y-intersection; 400 feet later, cross the streamlet feeding Shuford Creek.
The trail passes a handful of junctions over the next mile: stay on Woody Creek Trail and continue climbing. At mile 1.3, turn right and cross a shallow spring. Almost immediately, a sharp left turn leads above a group of rocks where the steep, unrelenting climb begins. Follow the very rocky, rooty, and narrow singletrack through patches of galax.
After 1.5 miles, look carefully to spot a yellow blaze on a rock to the right, and then immediately make a sharp left turn. Rhododendron and mountain laurel form a tunnel overhead. Catch your breath as the trail levels along grassy slopes among high bush blueberry and whorled loosestrife.
Less than half a mile later, the path passes a rock outcrop with views to the east. (Savor more views from narrow rock outcrops 700 feet up the trail.) At mile 2.4, enter a grassy opening where Woody Ridge Trail ends at a T-intersection with Black Mountain Crest Trail. Hikers can turn right to summit Celo Knob, or turn left (south) to climb Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Backtrack to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Tim Johnson

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.7

Waypoints

Parking

Location: 36.0577431, -105.5006638

This is a small parking lot.

wpt tr 493

Location: 36.0581627, -105.5054855

Intersection with trail #493

DITCH

Location: 36.0572319, -105.5124207

Small ditch to cross ensures you are on the right path

wpt CWB

Location: 36.0458069, -105.5340042

Carson National Forest Wilderness Boundary Sign

wpt SerpTurn

Location: 36.0432625, -105.5402298

This is the turn to Serpent Lake

wpt 001

Location: 36.0421181, -105.5409088

The turn to the Horseshoe Lake trail is approximately 150 feet from the turn to Serpent. This waypoint will help you locate the trail AFTER you make the correct turn. If you start gaining elevation on trail #19, you've gone too far.

wpt 002

Location: 36.0404663, -105.5412827

This trip has a 7 difficulty rating because of the amount of trail finding skills you need to have. This becomes obvious when you think of following this trail without the waypoints provided.

wpt 003

Location: 36.0377617, -105.540947

wpt 004

Location: 36.0362282, -105.5407715

wpt 005

Location: 36.0349731, -105.5399475

wpt 006

Location: 36.0332451, -105.5371552

Check PT

Location: 36.0321083, -105.5359116

Check waypoints often. The trail is intuitive to follow and in fairly good shape in most places.

wpt 007

Location: 36.0311966, -105.5363007

wpt 008

Location: 36.0302429, -105.5342178

There are some great views as you travel the ridges!

wpt 009

Location: 36.0279694, -105.5344772

This is a great place to view a smaller lake well below the trail.

wpt 0010

Location: 36.0246086, -105.5364456

Getting Close to HS Lake

Location: 36.0220032, -105.5366745

You can almost feel the peacefulness of the lake!

Horseshoe Lake

Location: 36.0196609, -105.5341415

This is a spot at the edge of the lake where we sat and watched marmots play across the lake in the morning.

Trail to Horseshoe

Location: 36.0432129, -105.5401764

This is the spot - unmarked - turn here! Go to the left of the tree.

View of the small lake

Location: 36.0280228, -105.5345535

This looks like a tempting spot, but continue - you'll be glad you did.

Keep an eye out for this fat fellow!

Location: 36.0237808, -105.5370712

Marmot

Ahhhh - Paradise Found!

Location: 36.0206261, -105.5356445

Horseshoe Lake - PLEASE - Help us preserve this special spot. Pack out all of your trash (including TP) and camp well out of the lake basin. Avoid the temptation to build new fire rings. Use existing ones or refrain from fires completely.