This trip has several options. Starting from Longbottom Road at Basin Creek you immediately have three: To the north, Cedar Ridge Trail takes you up to the Parkway near the Brinegar Cabin, where you can catch the Bluff Mountain Trail south through the vast meadows and balds that make Doughton Park a popular Blue Ridge Parkway destination. To the south, Flat Rock Ridge Trail traces another ridgeline up to the Parkway, where you’ll take Bluff Mountain Trail north through Doughton Park. Straight takes you up Grassy Gap Trail to a primitive campground where three options await. The 2-plus-mile Bluff Mountain Primitive Trail takes you straight up the escarpment to Doughton Park while the southern veering Grassy Gap Trail, following old roadbed, is the most mellow way to reach the top. Or, take the Basin Creek Trail up a narrow canyon where falls seem to trip over themselves for your attention. The trail ends at the one-room Caudill cabin, where a determined couple raised 13 kids more than a century ago. Not a bad option in the bunch.

More info: National Park Service website, 336.372.8568; “Backpacking North Carolina,” Trip No.11.

Maps: USGS: Whitehead. A generalized NPS map with trail distances is available at the coffee shop at Milepost 241 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Map of trailhead here.
View 20 Classic North Carolina Hikes: Doughton Park: Basin Cove Loop in a larger map

basin cove
Location: Longbottom Road at Basin Creek, Doughton Park
Nearest town: Sparta
Latitude: N36 22.500
Longitude: W81 08.772
Difficulty: Hard
Distance: 7-18 miles (depending upon route chosen)
Loop/one-way: Loop and one-way
Time to complete: 4 hours to a full day