Mountains-to-Sea Trail: Buck Springs to French Broad - Backpacking/Camping

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This gorgeous 20-mile section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, from Buck Springs Trailhead to the French Broad River is one backpacking experience that you do not want to miss.

Written by

Park Baker


20.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

0.1 miles


5 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 days

2-4 days


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




The Mountains to Sea Trail is a 1,000 mile long trail that was created in an effort to link the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with some of the neighboring National Forests, and eventually with the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Outer Banks and the Croatan National Park. The trail begins at Clingman's Dome in the Smokies, and crosses through Brevard, paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to Boone before heading out of the mountains and turning towards the coast. 

What Makes It Great

The section of trail near Brevard is mostly above 5,000 ft, so conditions can change quickly. The trail is rocky and narrow, but well blazed with a white blaze every few hundred yards. It would be hard to get off the main trail, as the local mountain hiking club spends a good bit of time weed-eating and keeping this trail clear. There is one worthy spur trail to the top of Mt. Pisgah, and at the top you will have a 360 degree view of Pisgah National Forest, and of Asheville to your NE. This sidetrack will take about an hour.

This stretch will have you starting at the Buck Springs trailhead, on US 276 and heading all the way to the French Broad River, close to Asheville. There are plenty of primitive camping spots along the way. You will need to arrange for a ride back from the end of your trip, or set a shuttle (see directions below). 

From the trailhead, you will make your way down the Buck Springs trail until you reach the Mountains to Sea. MST is blazed white all the way to your pick up or car. 

There are a few springs on this hike, but they may or may not be running, so it's recommended packing all of your water, but it's not a bad idea to carry a filter or iodine tabs/UV light either.

Who is Going to Love It

About 20 miles in length, it will take fit, experienced hikers a solid two days to complete, and most others at least three.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

To begin your backpacking trip, drive into the main entrance of Pisgah National Forest and head up through the forest past Looking Glass Falls and the Pink Beds, about a twenty minute drive. Once you pass the Pink Beds, the road will start to switch back up, and you will be looking for the Buck Springs trailhead on your right, in a paved pull off. The trail sign is just off the pavement.

To set the shuttle or pick up, park your car at the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and NC 191. To get here, you can drive east the length of the Parkway and look for the signs, or head north from Brevard on NC 280, and make a left onto NC 191 in Mills River, about fifteen minutes up the road towards the airport. Drive another fifteen minutes on NC 191 until you see signs for the Parkway, and turn left to intersect it. The MST trail comes down right onto the Parkway as soon as you turn onto it, where there is a parking area. 


Mountains-to-Sea Trail: Buck Springs to French Broad

Pisgah National Forest
Brevard, NC, 28712
35.233447, -82.734292

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