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This 17.6-mile loop follows a well-worn path as it crisscrosses numerous creeks and rivers (some of which can be tricky at high water). White quartz outcroppings offer hikers an opportunity to peer beyond dense tree cover, but the large diversity of plant life along this route allows for plenty to discover underneath the canopy as well. Red and white oak, long and short needle pine, sourwood, and sassafras trees (among others) accompany blueberry shrubs, sumac, and hydrangeas to make for a rich botanical experience. Caution: Poison ivy is a common leaf as well, especially in the trail’s wetter and cooler areas. Campsites abound on this loop, but there are only so many near a viable water source—many of the trail’s streams are seasonal, drying out in high summer.
Check out turn-by-turn trail directions, an elevation profile, and driving directions to the trailhead at backpacker.com/hikes/59954.