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A moderate, 2.2 mile loop with some steep ascending, interesting rock features, and great views.

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1,589' 484 m


1,126' 343 m


497' 152 m


496' 151 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (20°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Geological Significance · Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly While this loop would be a challenge for smaller kids, it's a fun option for a moderate hike because of the neat rock slabs and scrambling potential. Plus, the Quarry Trail has a great playground.


This is the loop used in the Vertical Mile Challenge as hiking this 2.2 mile loop eight times will involve a vertical mile of climbing. Despite its more extreme reputation, this loop still makes for a nice, moderate hike with great views and a fun mix of forested, mountainous, and rocky terrain. Do one lap, or two, or more—it's a beautiful and enjoyable loop regardless.


From the parking area, follow the Quarry Trail to the Grindstone Trail. The Grindstone Trail will head to the left, up a more moderate, switchbacking route to the Hollow Rock Trail. Continue right onto the Vertical Mile Challenge Trail which climbs over 400 feet in under a half mile. The Vertical Mile Challenge Trail intersects with the Hollow Rock Trail—turn right to do the lollipop loop around the top of Rocky Face Mountain, or go left to stay on the Vertical Mile Challenge route which descends the Hollow Rock Trail to the Quarry Trail and parking area. All the trails are well-marked and easy to follow

The Quarry Trail is paved, but the rest of the loop is singletrack, either along forested trails with some roots and rocks, or across the namesake, smooth, exposed rocky faces of the mountain. A quarry once existed at the base of the mountain, and the Quarry Trail (unsurprisingly) offers cool views of the former quarry walls. The Vertical Mile Challenge Trail climbs many sections of steep, exposed rock—be sure to turn around to check out the views to the south, but definitely take care if it's wet or icy out as these sections could be very slippery and potentially dangerous given the exposure.

Because Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area has over six miles of trails, it's easy to link together other trails to make a longer or shorter hike. If the weather is looking bad or the Vertical Mile Challenge climb is too daunting, try the Grindstone Trail's gentler, switchbacking ascent to the Hollow Rock Trail. If the Vertical Mile Challenge Loop is too short on its own, consider hiking the entirety of the Hollow Rock Trail around the summit of the mountain. The Prison Camp Trail offers an alternative descent as well—it's a little longer, but also a little more gradual of a descent than the Hollow Rock Trail.


Shared By:

Amber Scott

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes


  4.0 from 2 votes
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in North Carolina


4 Views Last Month
503 Since Nov 19, 2019
Intermediate Intermediate



Along the Vertical Mile Challenge Trail's steep climb, enjoy this interesting rock slab and an incredible view.
Mar 5, 2017 near Taylors…, NC
High on Rocky Face, experience beautiful hardwoods and dramatic views of the exposed bedrock.
Mar 5, 2017 near Taylors…, NC
Rocky Face
Sep 28, 2019 near Taylors…, NC
Prison Camp Trail
Sep 28, 2019 near Taylors…, NC
Take part of your visit to watch climbers scale this popular rock climbing area.
Mar 5, 2017 near Taylors…, NC
Walk under the rocky face to get to/head back from the Grindstone Trail.
Mar 5, 2017 near Taylors…, NC



Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 57 days ago
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Mar 15, 2021
Jennifer Marquardt
Made a long loop of it. 5.3mi

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