Pisgah NF Sleepy Gap Loop

Posted By on March 11, 2020

Pisgah NF Sleepy Gap Loop

3.4 miles; Arden, NC

Not a long hike, but sure was a lot of “verticality.” Apple Health said it was the equivalent of 44 flights of stairs. Boy, howdy, I can completely believe that. As can my quads.

I wanted to get back into the woods, but not into the WOODS, if you know what I mean. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a little askeert of bears, and they are definitely waking up. Temps were in the low 70s today. So I picked a hike that was right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is, if you’re not familiar, America’s longest “linear park,” and construction was started on it in 1935 and, oh, I’ll just outsource the rest to Wikipedia:

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway, which is America’s longest linear park, runs for 469 miles (755 km) through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It runs mostly along the spine of the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. Its southern terminus is at U.S. 441 on the boundary between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, from which it travels north to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The roadway continues through Shenandoah as Skyline Drive, a similar scenic road which is managed by a different National Park Service unit.

Blue Ridge Parkway Marker

And lucky for me, it’s mere minutes from my current rental. I started and ended at the Sleepy Gap Scenic Overlook.

Yeah, Vertical

The trail I started off on, which is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail, was called the Shut-in Trail. And it started off going UP. And UP. And UP. Hence the 44 flights of stairs stat.

Distant Mountain View

Thanks to the fact that we’re at the ass-end of winter and the trees are still bare of leaves, the views were pretty good from way up here.

From the Shut-in Trail, I took a right onto the Chestnut Cove Trail, and from there to the South Ridge Forest Road, a gravel road that cut through the woods.

South Ridge Road

I saw trail runners, other hikers, and mountain bikers, so it was busy, but not horribly so. I figure busy enough to keep the bears away.

Galax

The final leg of the hike was on the Sleepy Gap Trail, which took me back to my car. Uphill. Again. I was huffin’ and-a puffin’ by the time I reached the parking area. So yeah, not long, but for sure a lot harder than I’m used to!

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is North Carolina’s state hiking trail. It stretches 1175 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. Find out more at their website. Find out more about Pisgah National Forest from the National Park Service website. And as always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

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