**Strenuous All Day Hike** 8 - 9 hours to include driving...estimate
- Wilderness area only 10 people allowed
- No time limit back
- Moderate paced for enjoyment
- Make no other plans to be back at certain time
- $2.00 Parking Fee per Person
- Gas $ for drivers
- Food, water, pack (poles recommended)
~Let's Go Hiking~
Start at Jones Gap State Park
Jones Gap Trail - 0.2 miles
Rim of the Gap Trail - 0.4 miles
Pinnacle Pass Trail - 3.3 miles
6/20 Connector Trail - 0.1 miles
Rim of the Gap Trail - 2.5 miles
Frank Coggins Trail - 0.5 miles
Coldspring Connector - 0.3 miles
Coldspring Brach - 1.6 miles
Jones Gap Trail - 2.2 miles
Finish at Jones Gap State Park
Total Mileage = 11.1 miles
Start out at the Jones Gap Trailhead, just past the park office. Remember to fill out a hiker registration form and place the designated copy in the box at the trailhead. The Jones Gap Trail follows along the Middle Saluda River full of rocks and roaring cascades of water. It is an excellent out and back trail for the beginner hiker. But, for this hike you turn left on to the Rim of the Gap Trail after only a couple of hundred yards. This is where the climb begins.
The Rim of the Gap Trail climbs steeply on a narrow trail over tree roots and rocks with some nice views of Cleveland Cliffs across Jones Gap. After 0.4 miles you will turn left on the Pinnacle Pass Trail. Another option is to stay on the Rim of the Gap Trail and skip the Pinnacle Pass. This will cut about 1.5 miles off the hike, but you will miss the awesome views from the Pinnacle Pass.
The Pinnacle Pass trail will take you on a climb of about 1200 ft, climbing over rocks, crossing countless small streams, and hugging the base of some huge granite cliffs. At times the trail becomes part of the stream making the rocks a little slippery. After about 1.5 miles, the steepest part of the climb is over and the trail opens up a bit. This is where you will see some of the most spectacular views in the area, even when the trees are full. There is one particular overlook with a small wooden guardrail, which I consider the best view in the area. This is a good spot to take a break and pull out the camera.
The trail continues mostly uphill, but with a more gradual slope and a wider track. The excellent views continue, and the trail eventually levels out making for a welcome change. At about 3.3 miles, the 6/20 connector trail will take you back to the Rim of the Gap Trail.
At this point the Rim of the Gap Trail starts out fairly level and easy, but that will soon change. After about a half-mile, you pass the John Sloan Trail Junction. Stay on the Rim of the Gap and begin a short, but steep decent. A few switchbacks make the decent a little easier. Here are some excellent wintertime views across Jones Gap where you can see Rainbow Falls on the opposite cliff. For the next two miles the Rim of the Gap trail will hug the base of the rocky south rim of Jones Gap. This two-mile stretch is my favorite section of trail in the area. After a short distance you will arrive at Weight Watchers Rock, a stack of huge boulders with a small rectangular opening for you to pass through. You will probably have to remove your pack in order to squeeze through. This trail is very rugged with lots of rocks, boulders, ladders, and tree roots to climb over. Numbers waterfalls will be spilling over the side of the cliffs and across the trail. Be careful, because some of these waterfall crossings can be slippery and dangerous. Towards the end of the trail you will be at the base off Cliff Falls, another one of the many photo opportunities along the trail. The last section climbs steeply to the top of the falls where the Rim of the Gap ends.
At the junction of the Frank Coggins, Naturaland Trust, and Rim of the Gap Trail, turn right and follow the Frank Coggins
Trail across the top of Cliff Falls and take the Coldspring Connector after about 0.3 miles.
The Coldspring Connector trails crosses a small stream, and then a short but steep climb before it descends to your first crossing of Coldspring branch. After another short climb you will meet up with the Coldspring Branch Trail where you will turn right to head back down to the Jones Gap Trail.
The Coldspring Branch Trails heads downhill most of the way following Coldspring Branch Creek, and crossing it a total of six different times. Some of these crossings can be a little tricky especially after a good rain. In addition, there are several smaller tributary crossings. There are numerous nice cascades to see along the creek. After 1.6 miles you will arrive back at the Middle Saluda River and the Jones Gap Trail, which you will turn right on to take back to the park.
The Jones Gap Trail is one of the easier trails in the Mountain Bridge Area, and its all a nice gradual downhill from here making it a good ending to your hike. It follows the Middle Saluda, which will offer you some good opportunities to take off your boots and socks and get your feet wet. Almost all the campsites in the area are along this trail, and you will most likely see a lot more people strolling around than on the other trails. At about a mile before the park, a short spur trail heads off to the left to the base of Jones Gap Falls. Don’t miss this no matter how worn out you are. Its no more than 100 yards or so out of you way, and it is one of the more impressive waterfalls in the area. After viewing the falls, head back to the trail and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Middle Saluda River for the final mile of your hike.
Camping: Camping is allowed at 24 designated trail sites. Almost all of these are located close to Jones Gap State Park, or along the Jones Gap Trail. Fee/person is $4/night. Group sites can be reserved for 10 - 20 people. Registration is required. A heated restroom facility with hot showers is available for campers at Jones Gap Park. There are additional campsites along the Foothills Trail, which can be accessed via some of the Mountain Bridge Trails. Contact one of the Park Offices for more camping details:
Caesars Head State Park:[masked]
Jones Gap State Park:[masked]