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Hike along the MST to the rock ruins of the early-1900s mountain retreat of Dr. Chase P. Ambler.

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4,031' 1,229 m


3,184' 971 m


847' 258 m


847' 258 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views

Should be accessible even when the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed.


To access this loop, use the small trailhead parking at Bull Gap Trailhead. The surface of this loop is mostly dirt and rocks. There are no paved sections of trail. Along the route, there are various remnants of the Lodge that can be seen. It's best to bring your own water.


Park at Bull Gap Trailhead off of Ox Creek Road. The trailhead parking is small and not signed well, making it easy to miss.

Head past the trailhead, then turn left onto the MST. You'll head uphill for a little over 0.5 miles of switchbacks. After all the switchbacks, continue to the east. The elevation climb is gentle but, depending on weather (e.g. recent rain) and season (e.g. late fall), the trail may be obscured by leaves or made slippery by rainfall - or a combination of both.

Use caution as some rocks and roots may be hidden. The trail does have some drop off to the side. After about 1.0 total miles, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Lane Pinnacle to the east through the trees.

At 1.2 total miles, you'll come to a "gateway" of sorts, with two large rocks on either side of the trail. This is the entrance to Dr. Chase P. Ambler's Rattlesnake Lodge.

After 1.5 total miles of travel, you'll arrive at the Lodge's summer retreat. While the area is mostly ruinous, you'll see the former swimming pool's stone foundation off to the right. Further on, the area plateaus out for a bit, and you'll notice some fire rings and camp spots are now where the former yard once stood. There are several places to stop and take a break or grab a snack.

Head further along the MST and you'll come to a fork with a blue-blazed trail. To the left, you'll see the remains of Dr. Ambler's toolshed, with a large tree growing over top of the foundation. Continue on the blue-blazed, Rattlesnake Lodge Trail uphill for about 0.25 miles to reach the Lodge's main water reservoir (although it looks that it could also have been a swimming pool). While not difficult per se, this uphill stretch can be strenuous, and a mixture of rocks, moisture, and leaves can make it extra challenging.

Head on another 0.25 miles to reach [what used to be] the Lodge's spring. Glimpses of water pipe may be seen along the trails as well.

Eventually, you'll reach a trail intersection; continue to the right on the MST downhill through a tunnel of trees as it heads south and through a few more switchbacks. After about 2.25 total miles, you should come to the remnants of a stone chimney, part of Dr. Ambler's former home. Continue on and you'll pass a stream - one that likely provided power to the Lodge.

At 2.4 total miles, you'll have completed the loop. Head on the MST back to the trailhead.

Flora & Fauna

Rhododendron and mountain laurel.

History & Background

Rattlesnake Lodge was the early 1900s summer retreat of Dr. Chase P. Ambler, an Asheville physician and conservationist.


Land Manager: Blue Ridge Parkway

Shared By:

Erik Anthony

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 20 votes


in Bull Gap


  3.9 from 20 votes
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in Bull Gap


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18 Views Last Month
5,099 Since Dec 1, 2016
Intermediate Intermediate



Lodge Spring House (slippery tree if you're heading in!)
Dec 1, 2016 near Weaverv…, NC
Southward mountain view through the bare trees
Dec 2, 2016 near Weaverv…, NC
Rock foundations of Rattlesnake Lodge.
Dec 1, 2016 near Weaverv…, NC
Here is the blue blaze at the toolshed trail intersection - go this way!
Dec 1, 2016 near Weaverv…, NC



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Jan 13, 2024
Lucas Stone
Oct 18, 2022
BK Hope
Aug 24, 2021
Nick Kepf
4mi — 2h 11m
Aug 30, 2020
Sarahchevyford1189 Ford
Nice and windy then old ruins at the top. Tons of mushrooms when I went 3.5mi
Jul 4, 2020
Mike DeMatties
May 21, 2020
Lucas Stone
Jan 26, 2020
Robert Beasley
Nov 10, 2019
Gene Doerr
Hike with Julie and Emma

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