44.6 miles
6,540 ft
-6,543 ft
1 mile
High Point

There are a couple of very remote, short stretches of Mountains to the Sea Trail, along the ridge at the top of the Big Balds, and leaving Bear Pen Gap to Wet Camp Gap. Following trail regs requires you walk your bike on these stretches.

Start at East Laporte Park in Jackson County. Cross Highway 107 and turn onto Caney Fork Road. Turn left off of Caney Fork onto Moses Creek Road. Several miles after Moses Creek turns to gravel, turn right onto only drivable gravel road and emerge up hight at about 5000' through a closed gate onto Big Bald Ridge. Cross the first bald and veer left on grassy forest service fire road. At second bald, turn 180 degrees left and climb several hundred feet to top of another bald, Turn right onto singletrack trail that reaches the top of another bald and then continues on ridge top all the way to Blue Ridge Parkway. Take BRP north to Bear Pen Gap. Turn right at Bear Pen on trail that travels around the nose of the ridge and then zags back to the left, paralleling BRP. Turn right on *second* ridge (not the first which descends Rough Butt Creek to the cross it and Sugar Creek Road and Caney Fork) and travel through Wet Camp Gap, another bald. Turn right down a grassy forest service road and descend to Rough Butt Creek and go through a closed gate. Road turns to gravel -- climb to Sugar Creek Gap. Turn right through a closed gate at Sugar Creek Gap and route find a traverse that ends at another closed gate and Sam Queen Gap. Turn left and descend on good gravel that quickly turns to pavement and Johns Creek Road. Descend Johns Creek to Caney Fork, Turn left to complete loop.

Moses Creek, Big Bald Road, and the other end of Sugar Creek Gap Road ("Loggers Road" on Charlie's Creek Road) are gated in the deep winter, as is the BRP. There are permanently closed gates at the top of Big Bald Road, where Sugar Creek Road reaches Rough Butt Creek and becomes the path from Wet Camp Gap, and at both ends of the path from Sugar Creek Gap to Sam Queen gap. Be prepared and self-sufficient, especially in the winter.

This route skirts private property in places but is 100% on public lands.

A cross bike would be possible, and even preferable on the climb all the way to Richland Balsam, but it would be unpleasant on the descent from Wet Camp Gap to Sugar Creek Road, and dicey on the traverse from Sugar Creek Gap to Sam Queen Gap. A hardtail is fine, and full squish would be a net disadvantage over much lighter bikes. Tubeless tires are recommended because of briars on a few places on closed roads.

There is relatively reliable, safe drinking water coming out of a spring pipe on the left side of the road maybe a quarter of a mile before summiting Richland Balsam on the parkway.

Detailed Description
Circumnavigation of Caney is a 45 mile less popular extreme route located near Cullowhee North Carolina. This mountain bike only route can be used one direction and has a extreme overall physical rating. This route climbs 6,540 ft with a max elevation of 6,052 ft then descends -6,543 ft.
Local Trail Association
Please consider joining or donating to the local riding association to support trail development & maintenance.
donate to earn trail karma!



  • Riding area
  • Primary Activity
    Mountain Bike
  • Difficulty rating
    Double Black Diamond
  • Route Type
  • Bike type
  • Direction
    One Direction
  • Physical rating
More Stats for Circumnavigation of Caney mountain bike route
  • Altitude min
    2,108 ft
  • Altitude start
    2,118 ft
  • Altitude end
    2,116 ft
  • Grade
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    21 miles
  • Distance down
    20 miles
  • Distance flat
    4 miles
no votes yet
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Snow Cover Inadequate
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Ideal
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
Trail Flow (Ridden Direction)
Trailforks scans users ridelogs to determine the most popular direction each trail is ridden. A good flowing trail network will have most trails flowing in a single direction according to their intension.
The colour categories are based on what percentage of riders are riding a trail in its intended direction.
  • > 96%
  • > 90%
  • > 80%
  • > 70%
  • > 50%
  • < 50%
  • bi-directional trail
  • no data
Trail Last Ridden
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine the last time a trail was ridden.
  • < 2 days
  • < 1 week
  • < 2 weeks
  • < 1 month
  • < 6 months
  • > 6 months
Trail Ridden Direction
The intended direction a trail should be ridden.
  • Downhill Only
  • Downhill Primary
  • Both Directions
  • Uphill Primary
  • Uphill Only
  • One Direction
Contribute Details
Colors indicate trail is missing specified detail.
  • Description
  • Photos
  • Description & Photos
  • Videos
Trail Popularity ?
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine which trails are ridden the most in the last 9 months. Trails are compared with nearby trails in the same city region with a possible 25 colour shades. Think of this as a heatmap, more rides = more kinetic energy = warmer colors.
  • most popular
  • popular
  • less popular
  • not popular
Max Vehicle Width

Radar Time
x Activity Recordings
Trailforks users anonymized public ridelogs from the past 6 months.
  • mountain biking recent
  • mountain biking (>6 month)
  • hiking (1 year)
  • moto (1 year)
Activity Recordings
Trailforks users anonymized public skilogs from the past 12 months.
  • Downhill Ski
  • Backcountry Ski
  • Nordic Ski
  • Snowmobile
Jump Magnitude Heatmap
Heatmap of where riders jump on trails. Zoom in to see individual jumps, click circles to view jump details.
Trails Deemphasized
Trails are shown in grey.
Only show trails with NO bikes.

Save the current map location and zoom level as your default home location whenever this page is loaded.

Trail transparency
  • By coldholler & contributors
  • #6359 - 1,470 views