“This hike links up three fun trails into a challenging but short loop.
— Chris Freeman
River/Creek · Wildflowers · Wildlife
There is a good amount of descent and climbing and quite a few streams to cross either over stepping stones or just hiking through. The meadows along the Santee Branch Trail
are a real treat with wildflowers, berries, and butterflies. The smell is lovely!
Beginning with a gentle downhill, you cross a few streams before heading uphill at a fairly steep gradient past the parking lot. Joining a paved road for a short uphill, you rejoin the Santee Branch Trail
for a while, which is quite narrow with roots and small rocks.
The Santee Branch to Bull Run Connector
is next, but this route deviates a bit from the published trail on maps. Parts are narrow as you go through meadows of wildflowers and butterflies. The downhill sections are steep, rocky, and with stuck out roots, so be careful here.
You'll eventually cross a larger stream over stepping stones before paralleling the Soapstone Trail
for the final leg to the finish. Watch out for mountain bikers and other hikers, especially in the narrow sections.