Featured Hike: River Loop Trail (Upper), Black Mountain Campground

This hike is an easy one, and a moderate length at about 4 miles (with the side trail to the waterfall). The Black Mountain Campground is not in or near the town of Black Mountain, though as the crow flies it probably isn’t that far. You can access it in Pisgah National Forest off Hwy 80 either from Burnsville or from Marion. With an elevation of 3000 feet, it is a little cooler than Asheville but not so high that you feel the thin air.

The trail begins alongside the Green Knob and the Mountains to the Sea trail directly across from the entrance to the campground on the Forest Service road. You have a bit of an uphill climb until the other two trails branch off, and River Loop then follows the contour of the mountain until it descends back to the Forest Service road, crosses it, and then follows the Toe River along the other side back to the campground.

It is a delightful hike all the way. The first stretch is more of a hike, and on this July 1st, the rhododendrons were still in full glory, so it was magnificent. Once you cross over to the trail along the river, it is literally a walk through the woods. This is a great hike for families or anyone not feeling to ambitious as far as elevation changes. But it is long enough that you feel like you did something to earn a big burger for dinner.