Official, obvious trails and less-used sometimes obscure trails are utilized in this circuit. Good route finding is recommended.
Along the hike there is a variety of mountain terrain ranging from deciduous and boreal forests, heath, sphagnum and grass bogs, talus fields and rocky outcroppings.
The Point is the intersection of Roaring Creek and Long Run Canyons. This is about the mid-point of the hike. From this one spot, one may view Smith Mountain, Four Knobs, North Fork Mountain, Shenandoah Mountain, Chimney Rocks, Champe Rocks, Seneca Rocks, Spruce Mountain and Hay Stack Knob.
South Prong Trail-517 shares FR-479 down to South Prong of Red Creek. Cross the creek at 0.35 miles and turn left on an old RR grade, passing the first of many blue diamond blazes. Arrive FR-70 at 0.5 miles from last stream crossing. Cross the FR-70 continuing on Tr-517 for 0.59 miles.
In a small meadow at the top, Tr-517 will continue straight. There are two right turns here. The first leads to a nice campsite along a stream. It continues to intersect the second right turn after crossing the stream. If you take the second, the trail splits but comes together again in a meadow. Follow the Cairns. Now begins the Hidden Passage Jeep Trail
to the Roaring Plains.
Hidden Passage continues southerly toward a rhododendron thicket on the other side of the meadow. There, you'll find an obvious path through the thicket, crossing a small stream. On the other side of the thicket, there is another meadow. Look for the faint trail and cairns. Maintain a southerly course but favor the right side of the meadow until entering a wooded area comprised mostly of birch and black cherry. The trail will bend left for a short distance as it nears the rim and then straightens out again. At 0.85 miles from the turnoff from Tr-517, arrive at the base of a meadow. Cairns lead to a nice campsite, but dry and exposed with partial views of the valley below.
Beyond this campsite is an obvious grassy jeep road. Follow this to the intersection with the gas pipeline. This is about 0.7 miles from where the Hidden Passage ended at the base of the meadow.
Turn left on the gas pipeline and descend about 0.33 miles. Cross a small stream and arrive at the remains of an old road that intersects the gas pipeline. This is the beginning of [Long Run] Canyon Rim Trail
(unofficial). There is a dead tree with a blank sign mounted high on the trunk. This is the most obscure part of the hike.
Proceed down the road a short distance then turn right and cross a small stream. Skirt the edge of a small bog on the right. From here to the next overlook it is mostly an open woods bushwhack. Keep the canyon rim or edge of the hill in sight and to your left; avoiding any thickets to the right.
You'll eventually arrive at a very large oak tree with multiple trunks near the beginning of another meadow/bog. Turn left here and head towards the rim. Find a footpath that leads out to the canyon and another fantastic view. You'll pass another multi-trunk tree on your right.
At about 0.6 miles from gas pipeline, cross Roaring Creek and pass red forest boundary blazes and survey marker. Continue following the rim. At 0.6 miles from the creek crossing arrive at The Point. From The Point, travel north-west along the rim, crossing more boulder fields and passing through alternating Rhododendron and heath thickets and Red Spruce.
In another 1.1 miles arrive at junction with the Teepee Trail
(obscure) which is at another established dry campsite with fire ring. Turn right here and search for a faint hunter's trail. It's not obvious at first. Poke around in the rhododendron until you find the trail. Proceed north-east on the trail until you reach a campsite with fire ring. Be wary of any side trails. Some are old deer trails while others were hacked out by lost hikers. The continuation of the trail is to the left of the campsite. Continue until reaching a large heath thicket. The trail seems to disappear here but it's slightly to the right. As you push through the brush you can see the trail at your feet. In about 0.54 miles from leaving the canyon rim, arrive at a large flat rock with a cairn on top. In front of it, is a wet sandy trail which is the headwaters of Roaring Creek and an old RR bed. Turn left, hike upstream through dense laurel, and quickly arrive at intersection of Roaring Plains Trail
Turn right on Tr-548 and go 0.91 miles to its eastern terminus at gas pipeline. FR-70 is to the right. Go down FR-70 about 0.34 miles, turn left on Boar's Nest Trail-518 for 2.7 miles to complete circuit.