Mountains-to-Sea Trail: Haywood Gap to Pigeon Gap

October 23, 2016

Once the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) closes for winter, it will cut off access to the higher peaks ad trails. Amongst the trails left in that area, is the mighty MST. The Pisgah Ranger section is 39.7 miles and extends from Haywood Gap near the Middle Prong Wilderness to Bent Creek and the French Broad River near Asheville.

To be honest, I’ve never really hiked on the MST, short of using it to get someplace else; it’s never been a destination. I know it goes from the Smoky’s to the coast of NC for 1,150 miles, but little else I was unawares.

As I as planning out the hike I stumbled upon a wonderful resource. The Friends of the MST publishes a wonderful trail guide. It is accurate, detailed and free.

The section from Middle Prong Wilderness to Pigeon Gap is the prettiest hike I’ve done this year. This section absolutely blew me away; such beauty and grandeur. Not simply because of the fall leaves and cooler temperatures; the views were unexpected and amazing. One minute you are walking along a low alpine path amongst the trees and the next you are staring down at an amazing valley.

The section from Black Balsam Road to Graveyard Ridge provides incredible views of Black Balsam Mountain and Tennant Mountain. After passing Skinny Dip Falls, the trail hugs the BRP closely, crisscrossing it several times. The last surge of the day was a huge hike up Green Knob. On the ridge as you descend towards Pigeon Gap, I could look to my right and see Looking Glass Rock, then look to my left and gaze upon Cold Mountain and Shining Rock Wilderness. Amazing.

GPS link:

Total mileage is 19.8 miles.

9 thoughts on “Mountains-to-Sea Trail: Haywood Gap to Pigeon Gap

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