This is a nice long loop that, for much of the hike, stays relatively close to water. There are some great views of the gorge and peaks, and nice waterfalls along the trails that make this hike really special. The trails are all natural surface trails and mostly singletrack with a few rocky sections scattered throughout the whole loop. Hikers will have to do some rock hopping at several creek crossings, but there is no wading. The crossings can be easily done unless the water levels are abnormally high. There is a sturdy wooden bridge for crossing above Stair Step Falls
. Stair Step Falls
does not have a trail to the base. The grade is very steep.
The trail is closer to 12 miles in length.
From the parking area on the north side of Green River Cove Road, follow Green River Cove
to the southwest. The loop parallels the Green River for 2.8 miles with only a little bit of an uphill grade. At the junction with Pulliam Creek
Trail, turn right to begin ascending slowly as the trail traverses over to meet and then follow Pulliam Creek.
Hike through some nice hemlock trees, and at about 4.7 miles into the hike, at the junction, turn right onto Rock Hop
Trail; follow this to the junction with Bishop Branch
Trail and turn south. The loop continues to climb but never up terribly steep grades. Turn left at the junction with Bear Branch Trail
and then shortly after a right onto Long Ridge
The trail reaches it highest point at the junction with Long Ridge
and Stair Step Falls
Trail. As you descend Stair Step Falls
, there are nice views of the gorge and Tryon Peak. At the junction with Turkey Gut
, there is a nice waterfall just down stream of the wooden bridge that can make a nice resting place.
Turn right onto Turkey Gut
, then quickly right again onto the Bluff
Trail. This is a steep descent back to the trailhead.