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
- Distance: 7.7
Location: 36.0577431, -105.5006638
This is a small parking lot.
wpt tr 493
Location: 36.0581627, -105.5054855
Intersection with trail #493
Location: 36.0572319, -105.5124207
Small ditch to cross ensures you are on the right path
Location: 36.0458069, -105.5340042
Carson National Forest Wilderness Boundary Sign
Location: 36.0432625, -105.5402298
This is the turn to Serpent Lake
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.
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.
Location: 36.0377617, -105.540947
Location: 36.0362282, -105.5407715
Location: 36.0349731, -105.5399475
Location: 36.0332451, -105.5371552
Location: 36.0321083, -105.5359116
Check waypoints often. The trail is intuitive to follow and in fairly good shape in most places.
Location: 36.0311966, -105.5363007
Location: 36.0302429, -105.5342178
There are some great views as you travel the ridges!
Location: 36.0279694, -105.5344772
This is a great place to view a smaller lake well below the trail.
Location: 36.0246086, -105.5364456
Getting Close to HS Lake
Location: 36.0220032, -105.5366745
You can almost feel the peacefulness of the 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
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.