Hiking Trail Review
for
Grassy Road Trail
in the
Pisgah Ranger District


This medium difficulty trail has many nice features.



A section of the trail

photo by A. Scott Lavender


Directions:

From Pisgah Forest, N.C.:  Take U.S. Highway 276 to the entrance to the Pisgah National Forest near the intersection of Highways 280, 276, and 64.  Drive 1.1 miles to a road on the right just before the Pisgah Ranger Station.  Note there are two parking areas on the right before the Station.  You want the second; it is beside the maintenance building for Shenck Job Corps.  Turn right into the parking area.  The point from where I began measuring is at the back of the parking lot where a small gravel trail connects with the trail coming from the first parking area.

Blaze Markings:  orange; the map and signs indicate an orange blaze, but I saw no blazes when I hiked it.

Length:  approximately 1.0 mile; exactly 5698 feet.  This trail is not directly accessible from either end.  Thus, the there and back distance is 2 miles or exactly 11,396 feet for the trail itself.  Further, a portion of access road to Thrift Cove Trail and from thence to the beginning of Grassy Road Trail is necessary.  The access road is 859 feet one way or 1718 there and back.  The portion of the Thrift Cove Trail is 1693 feet one way or 3386 feet there and back.  Thus the total distance is approximately 1.6 miles or exactly 8250 feet one way and approximately 3.2 miles or exactly 16,500 feet there and back.  The distance for Grassy Road Trail itself matches the 1 mile listed on the Trails Illustrated Pisgah Ranger District trail map published by National Geographic (rev. 2003).  

This trail can be made a partial loop by incorporating the Sycamore Cove Trail and (potentially) the Staamns Branch Trail.  See the trail map and/or the trail descriptions on this site to piece this together.

Difficulty:  easy; this is the official trail designation.  However, due to elevation change and the actual distance of 3.2 miles there and back, I would rank this trail as medium difficulty. 




The pine grove near the end of the trail

photo by A. Scott Lavender


I hiked this trail in early May with my friend, Scott Lavender.  It was a beautiful sunny day made for hiking.  We saw lady slippers, a great many violets, and a dark swath of pine trees off-setting the light greens of the new leaves on the hardwoods.  This trail is popular with mountain bikers as the trails in the area are interconnected, allowing for longer and varied biking.

This trail parallels Starens Branch most of its length.  It is an old roadbed and is easy to walk.  To the right, the sound of the watercourse makes for a pleasant companion.  Initially, Starens Branch is far below, but it gets gradually closer and higher as you proceed until you finally go above and around it.  The trail culminates in a beautiful area of that is broad and nearly flat—almost an upland valley—with a peaceful pine grove.

Again, this trail review contains the following: the access road, the initial portion of Thrift Cove Trail, and Grassy Road Trail.

The Access Road:

I began measuring distance at the gravel trail at the back of the parking area.

 

At 37’, there is a fork in the path.  Right goes to the other parking area.  Go left.

At 859’, the Black Mountain Trail goes to the left.  The road becomes Thrift Cove Trail.  Remain on the road/trail.

 

Thrift Cove Trail:

I began measuring at the trail sign.

At 1448’, the Staamns Branch Trail (previously part of Sycamore Cove Trail) is on the right.  There is a sign indicating “To Grassy Road Trail.”  Follow it by going straight.

At 1502’, Starens Branch Trail goes down the ridge to the left to meet up with the Black Mountain Trail.  Keep going straight.

At 1693’, there is a fork in the trail.  Thrift Cove continues to the left.  Grassy Road Trail goes to the right.  Go right.

 

Grassy Road Trail:

I began measuring at the fork in the trail, not the trail sign.  Note the sign reads “Grass” Road.

At 4036’, a nice creek passes underneath the trail in a broad and almost flat area near the top of the mountain.  There is a dead and dying hemlock grove here.  A large area of pine follows.

At 5193’, there is an unofficial trail to the right.  Stay straight.

At 5698’, the trail ends at a junction with Sycamore Cove Trail.




A spring flower along the trail

photo by A. Scott Lavender


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