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