- Distance: 9 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 1380′
- Difficulty: Strenuous
We park at the Rough Butt Bald parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Howard Gap. On the north side of the parkway, travel east on the Mountains to the Sea Trail to the intersection of Buckeye Gap Trail. Turn left onto Buckeye Gap Trail.
The Buckeye Gap Trail has recently seen serious maintenance work from the trail angels. In years past, we have had trouble finding the trail and staying on the trail. However, barring any bad storms and trail damage, the junction at Haywood Gap Trail is easy to find.
At the Intersection of Haywood Gap Trail, turn left again to complete the loop back to the parkway. This trail takes you down to Haywood Gap Stream and Buckeye Creek. A few years ago, we saw a mink at the creek bank near the junction of these 2 creeks. The sighting was quickly over, not allowing for any pictures. I will never forget it as long as I live. They are shy and elusive little creatures.
When you get back to the parkway, you will need to walk the MTS trail back to Rough Butt Bald parking lot or just turn left on the parkway. Personally, I like the MTS trail section better than the road.