Burnt Mountain Trail will definitely provide your exercise, but the views and rock formations are worth the effort.
One of the rock faces along the trail.
Photo by A. Scott Lavender.
Burnt Mountain Trail is not accessible from a road. Both ends of the trail connect to the Corn Mill Shoals Trail, so it is necessary to provide directions for this trail, too. I am measuring Corn Mill Shoals Trail from the Corn Mill Shoals Access Area (parking area) to the Burnt Mountain Trail as this is the closest road access to the trail. The Access Area features ample parking and a kiosk with a rather outdated map.
Directions to Corn Mill Shoals Access Area:
There are three ways to access the parking area: one from U.S. 276 in Cedar Mountain, N.C. and the other two from Crab Creek Road. The two from Crab Creek Road are DuPont/Staton Road and Cascade Lake Road. The former should be chosen by those wanting ease and speed; the latter should be chosen if you want to drive a slower gravel road with less ease and more scenery.
From Cedar Mountain, N.C.: Take U.S. Highway 276. Turn onto Cascade Lake Road. Drive 1.8 miles to Corn Mill Shoals Access Area on the left. There is a large parking area.
DuPont Road from Crab Creek Road: Take Crab Creek Road (this road is also known as Kanuga Road in Henderson County should you be coming from Hendersonville). Turn onto DuPont Road. Travel 1.2 miles. DuPont Road ends and Staton Road begins (i.e. DuPont Road becomes Staton Road—this change is due to the road crossing the county line between Henderson and Transylvania Counties). At 5.4 miles, turn left onto Cascade Lake Road. Travel .7 miles to Corn Mill Access Area on the right. This route is considered the primary route.
Cascade Lake Road from Crab Creek Road: Take Crab Creek Road (this road is also known as Kanuga Road in Henderson County should you be coming from Hendersonville). Turn onto Cascade Lake Road. Travel 1.2 miles. The road turns at a confusing junction with Hart Road. Hart Road is paved and goes to the right. Cascade Lake turns to gravel at this point and goes to the left. Remain on Cascade Lake Road. Travel 5 miles; this portion of the road is graveled. Note the nice waterfall at mile 3.0. At the 5 mile mark, the road turns into pavement. Travel .9 miles. Corn Mill Shoals Access Area is on the right. This route is the secondary route and takes significantly longer to travel. It is less than two vehicles wide most of the way, so take your time and be aware. I would not recommend this route except for the interesting features along the way (and, hey, I just like gravel roads), including Cascade Lake itself, lots of forest, and the waterfall mentioned above.
Little River visible through dead hemlocks.
Photo by A. Scott Lavender
Blaze Markings: unblazed
Length: approximately 2.2 miles; exactly 11,775’; note that almost a mile, exactly 5135’, of Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail must be hiked to access the Burnt Mountain Trail. The trail also ends at Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail. Thus, the trail must be hiked as a there and back to the original access point or made a loop (which is much shorter) by returning to the Corn Mill Shoals Access from the end of the trail closest to the parking area (i.e. making a loop with an earlier portion of Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail). There and back distance is approximately 6.4 miles, exactly 33,820’. If a loop is made, the distance is approximately 3.9 miles, exactly 20,685’. These latter two distances are the true distances.
Difficulty: Difficult; due to significant elevation change as well as actual distance.
I hiked this trail in mid-April with my friend A. Scott Lavender. We hiked Corn Mill Shoals Trail to the second access of Burnt Mountain Trail, from thence to the initial access point with C.M.S.R.T., and from thence to the Corn Mill Shoals Access Area. The trail review is, therefore, broken up into two sections: the relevant portion of the Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail and the entire Burnt Mountain Trail. A hiker wanting to reverse the order may do so, taking this into account in altering the measurements. Reversing the trail directions lessens the impact of elevation by making the steepest parts of the trail downhill.
Burnt Mountain Trail is an old roadbed in places, though this is occasionally not obvious due to significant reclamation by the forest. There is significant elevation change, especially along the latter portion of the trail. There are some nice long range winter views here. I did not notice any burnt areas when I hiked the trail, but any burns that were presumably responsible for the name could be long gone.
The Corn Mill Shoals Portion:
Beginning at the edge of Cascade Lake Road:
At 134’, a creek crosses the trail just before a gate.
At 203’, there is a junction with Longside Trail to your left.
At 345’, a small creek tinkles down from the left to cross the trail.
At 563’, there is a junction with Big Rock Trail on the left.
At 2297’, the trail is damp from a (possibly wet-weather) spring. You can hear the Little River from this point to the river itself (and beyond for a distance, of course).
At 2623’, the wet trail ends, and a creek flows beneath the trail.
At 2948’, notice the interesting rock formation on the right.
At 3775’, there is a junction with Burnt Mountain Trail on the right. This is the first access point between the two trails; the measurements herein assume the hiker continues to the second access point at 5135’.
At 3907’, a Y-junction with the Little River Trail occurs. Take the right fork to remain on Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail.
At 4700’, the sound of the cascades at the ford at Little River enliven the forest.
At 4955’, a (probably wet-weather) spring is encountered.
At 5135’, there is a pleasant bench at the junction with Burnt Mountain Trail to the right. This is the access from which the Burnt Mountain Trail guide begins.
Interesting features at the stream crossing at 3256'.
Photo by A. Scott Lavender
The Burnt Mountain Trail portion:
Beginning from the middle of the junction with Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail:
Little River is visible along the first 650’ of this trail and sporadically thereafter until the trail winds up the mountain. It provides a nice view of a typical mountain river.
At 740’, there is a junction with the Nooks Trail to the left. From this sign to the next 263’, the trail travels through a nice pine grove. This is a peaceful spot and would be a nice place to camp.
At 1423’, the river is visible again downslope. Dying hemlocks from this point to 2046’ allow this visibility; I would much rather have the hemlocks.
At 2126’, notice the large pine atop a rock overlooking a small, marshy area near the river.
At 2302’, a series of rocks sporadically serving as the trail begins. This culminates at 2441’.
At 2441’, a rock shelf on the left is worth inspection. It is similar in feel to a rock face but is too small to really be categorized as such (my personal opinion).
At 2524’, a small creek goes under the trail.
At 2581’, another small creek goes under the trail, coming out of the ground to the left.
At 2613’, is the beginning of a rock face with some water seeping from it. This rock face is visible off and on (mostly on) until 2883’. This sort of natural feature is common in this section of DuPont.
At 2989’, a rock face is visible to the right.
At 3107’, a small creek crosses the trail.
At 3256’, a bridge carved from a tree trunk, a plastic culvert, and rock stepping stones are all over a small creek, providing natural and synthetic options for the hiker as to how to cross said creek.
At 4265’, is a metal culvert with a higher plastic culvert with beautiful mossy rocks arranged about it. I suppose the higher culvert is present as an overflow for the lower pipe.
At 8311’, be careful of a false junction with an old roadbed to the left. Continue straight.
At 9787’, is a nice rock feature to the left of the trail.
At 9957’, large boulders combine with laurel and pine to create a beautiful mini-habitat. This area was filled with birdsong when I travelled through.
At 10377’, a rock face pokes up out of the forest to the right.
At 11424’, more rock and laurel formations grace the trail.
At 11775’, the Burnt Mountain Trail ends at the junction with Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail.
If you are making a loop, turn left onto Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail and travel 3775’ back to the Corn Mill Shoals Access Area. Otherwise, turn around.
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