This loop is a challenging 2-day route that takes you past an old community, then up to some great views from the Appalachian Trail and back down, all while passing some beautiful cascading creeks.
Make sure to make backcountry camping reservation as the sites in the area tend to fill up.
Start at the Jakes Creek Trail
Trailhead parking area just past the Elkmont Campground. Start along the Jakes Creek Trail
for .3 miles and turn left onto Cucumber Gap Trail
. This trail steadily climbs for a little over a mile before descending back onto the Little River Trail
Stay on Little River Trail
for 1.3 miles until you cross Lost Creek by bridge. There is a nice large log to take a small break before starting up the long climb of Goshen Prong Trail
. Make a right at Goshen Prong Trail
. A creek flows to your right and after a mile you can see some beautiful cascades. Around the 3.2-mile mark, you'll reach campsite #23 which makes for a nice place to take a small rest. From here the trail begins to climb from about 3200' to 5700'.
Around the 5-mile mark there is a stream which will become your last water source until you reach the AT. Just past the stream is a small cave. Eventually, the Goshen Prong Trail
ends at the Appalachian Trail. From here, turn right. Double Spring Gap shelter is .6 mile and makes for a great stopping point for the day. Fill up your water here, as it is the last water source until you reach the lower parts of Jakes Creek Trail
for some miles. Double Spring Gap shelter is quite popular with AT hikers as it has water and a privy. Silers Bald Shelter is another mile or so and is less busy but has no water or privy.
From the right turn that you just made, you'll reach Silers Bald which is marked by a marker on top of a rock. The shelter is located about .25 miles from here. The AT continues along the top of the mountains never dropping you too far below the ridge line. Around the 3-mile mark, you'll turn right on Miry Ridge Trail
and start a long descent of about 5 miles until you reach Jake's Gap.
From here jump on Jakes Creek Trail
for a quick and easy 3.3 miles back to the trailhead.