The Mercy Branch Trail is a great trail accessible from the Mill Creek Nature Park parking area; it just takes some work to reach it. You can reach the Mercy Branch Trail by ascending the steep Butternut Trail
for approximately 1.9 miles. Just after you pass the signed Rocky Ridge Trail
, you'll pass over the trickling creek that makes up Mercy Branch and the signed Mercy Branch trailhead is a couple hundred feet after the creek.
The trail climbs slowly, often on a soft pine needle surface and often within a rhododendron tunnel. Towards the northeastern-most point on the trail in the last 1/4 mile, you'll start to see orange blazes which will take you to the signed and orange-blazed Rocky Ridge Trail
. Mercy Branch can be taken as an out-and-back or as a loop combined with the Rocky Ridge Trail
. Traveling counterclockwise (going up Mercy Branch and down Rocky Ridge) keeps the steepest parts of the loop as downhills.
Be sure to dress in bright colors during hunting season (generally fall and winter). The town of Narrows and nearby Pearisburg both have many trails and are investing in outdoor recreation. Stop in at local restaurants and stores to support these small towns so they continue to encourage outdoor recreation!