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Pressley Cove
Black Mountain Trail

Pressley Cove

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Pressley Cove trail is a steep trail, gaining almost 900 feet in elevation over the course of just over one mile.  It winds through a beautiful cove of laurel, hemlock, and beech trees.

TopoClick on topo for larger view

This trail's southern end is accessible from Forest Service Road 477, a gravel road that turns off US276, a short distance north of the Ranger Station north of Brevard, NC. 

Despite Pressley Cove Trail's beginning being clearly labeled with a trail sign, I drove past it twice before I found it.  It is immediately after the 3rd bridge on FS477. There is a pull off on the left side of the road for a couple vehicles; Pressley Cove trail begins on the right side of the road.

The trail initially parallels the road, giving the hiker a false sense of an upcoming easy, level hike!  Within a hundred feet or so however, the trail makes a sharp turn to the right and begins an almost steady climb to its northern terminus onto an old logging road.   In its 1.1 mile length, this trail gains just over 900 feet in elevation.

Along the entire route, one is treated to gorgeous views of the cove, and as you get higher, ridges off to the west.

Initially, the trail climbs through thick patches of laurel trees:

Laurel Cove

From here, the landscape opens up into wide open areas with hemlock and beech trees.  The stream which the trail follows the entire way is at times almost even with the trail, and at other times, down steeply from the trail.


The trail's northern terminus is onto an old logging road that can be accessed from FS477 a short distance (half a mile or so) up the road from where Pressley Cove trail begins.  This logging road also goes north to Buckhorn Gap.

On the day I did this hike, my goal was to find the place on Black Mountain Trail where the Turkey Pen Gap Trail intersects (Turkey Pen Gap is a 5.5 mile trail follows a ridgeline that extends east from Black Mountain Trail to the Turkey Pen trail head).

So at the top of Pressley Cove Trail, I turned right onto the logging road, and in a very short distance came to Pressley Gap, where one picks up Black Mountain Trail.

Pressley Gap

Black Mountain Trail is labeled with a white blaze, but no trail sign.  A few steps begin what will be a steady uphill climb from Pressley Gap.

Black Mountain Trail

The trail surface is very rocky and uneven, and can make for difficult walking.   This trail is also open to mountain bikers and must be a particular challenge for them!

After 3/4 mile or so, one can see the ridge line to the east that Turkey Pen Gap Trail follows:

Turkey Pen Gap Trail Ridgeline

The images below are what a lot of the trail between Pressley Gap and the turn-off for Turkey Pen Gap Trail looks like (this hike was done in early November):

Black Mountain Trail
Black Mountain Trail

I thought this mass of root growth was fascinating!  Click on the image to see it full size!!

Root Jumble

One mile from Pressley Gap, you come to the western terminus of Turkey Pen Trail. This trail runs 5.7 miles east, ending at Turkey Pen Trailhead.

Turkey Pen Trail and Black Mountain Trail Intersection

Elevation-wise, one has climbed another 1050 feet in elevation from the top of Pressley Cove trail, and 1975 feet elevation gain from FS477. A great, one day, car-shuttle type of hike can be done by heading east along this trail to Turkey Pen Trailhead. See my post about this hike here.

For this hiking day (given the short amount of daylight that one has in November), I turned around, and went back the way I came.   Going downhill on Black Mountain Trail was quite tenuous, given all the loose, rolling rocks that were hiding under all the fallen leaves.  However, given how steep Pressley Gap trail was, I was expecting that to be even more difficult walking, but it was a breeze to descend, and I was back at the car in no time.

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