Distance: 2.1 miles
Duration: 2 hrs
Gully Creek Trail starts at the Blue Ridge Visitor Center, Cumberland Knob, at milepost 217.5 off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Go past the visitor center from the parking lot and look towards the view behind the building and turn left. This is the start of the trail. At the trail head there is a sign Warning: strenuous 2.1 miles, well they were right. The first 10-15 minutes are not difficult as you go back and forth down the mountain. The sides of the trail are dangerous and very steep, one wrong step and you will fall down the mountain. You must be careful and pay attention at all times until you get closer to the bottom near the stream. Gully Creek Trail is one of the most difficult trails I have traversed due to the rushing water coming down the creek towards the bottom of the mountain. The water is running very fast in many places over the rocks where there is no crossing rocks to step on. We had to go ankle deep in some spots and slipped a few times on the rocks. We went very slow and still ended up with some scrapes and bruises. Once you are close to the bottom you are in a ravine following the creek down valley. Here the trail crosses many times back and forth across the creek. This continues until you reach the one mile point and your final crossing leads you past a ragged rock on your right side and then you start the ascent and climb up the other side.
The path starts off kind of easy and then gets harder as your legs get tired until you reach a flatter spot in the trail; you think that you are at the top and the trail then continues upward likes it never ends winding back and forth across the mountain. This part is about 0.7 miles long until you reach a fork in the road (a good resting spot and a quick drink of water) where you can continue straight towards the picnic area bringing you back to the visitor center and parking lot. We chose to go left which takes you up another steep hill for 0.4 miles until you reach Cumberland Knob. At the top you will see a shelter with with a fireplace and a grassy flat area. The trail continues past the shelter and starts down hill and comes out at the visitor center and the parking lot.
This trail is not for younger kids that have not been hiking before, my daughter who is seven years old was able to do it with a lot of help from me crossing the creek. This is not a beginner trail at all, make sure you have plenty of water, a backpack with new socks and good hiking boots.
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