Burnt Mountain/Cedar Rock Loop Hike Route Map

DuPont State Forest - Burnt Mountain/Cedar Rock Loop

If waterfalls are taken out of the equation, Cedar Rock is likely DuPont State Forest’s most popular destination. At just over 3,100’ in height, Cedar Rock rises only a few hundred feet above the surrounding valley which, even by DuPont standards, isn’t all that impressive. Instead what makes this peak so popular is its large open eastern slopes of bare granite, dotted with patchy clumps of moss and stunted pine trees. These large areas of ‘slickrock’ make it immensely attractive to both bikers and hikers alike, so don’t plan on being alone when you go. It’s also incredibly easy to access. Located just off Cascade Lake Road, it’s only a mile hike from Corn Mill Shoals Access to the summit by the most direct route. That route is one I’ve done many times over and can be found in other albums…the one shared in this album is a bit more of a leg stretcher and incorporates a lesser-used footpath, the Burnt Mountain Trail, to make for a more satisfying day out in my opinion.

As with the standard route this hike starts off from the Corn Mill Shoals Access, off Cascade Lake Road in the eastern portion of DuPont State Forest. Per usual at DuPont the parking lot fills fast most days, so get a good early start if you want to beat the inevitable crowds. The Corn Mill Shoals Trail begins directly across the road from the lot. Past a locked metal gate you’ll quickly pass the Longside Trail and then, in 1/10-mile, the Big Rock Trail which will be the path used to depart Cedar Rock at the end of the days hike. The Corn Mill Shoals Trail climbs a bit, then descends and reaches its western junction with the Burnt Mountain Trail at ¾-mile. Turn right (south) onto the Burnt Mountain Trail which immediately begins a moderate ascent of its namesake. Unlike the wide and road-like Corn Mill Shoals Trail, the Burnt Mountain Trail is a narrower, more traditional footpath. The climb of Burnt Mountain from the north isn’t crazy strenuous but it is a workout. In only ¾-mile the trail tops out, passing just below and east of the mountains forested summit. It then begins a meandering, moderate descent. About 2/10-mile before returning to the Corn Mill Shoals Trail, at the eastern junction of the two paths, the Nooks Trail offers an easy side trip out around a forested ridge surrounded on three sides by the Little River. After the Nooks Trail continue to the Corn Mill Shoals Trail and make a right where, in a hundred yards or so, you’ll reach the spot where the path fords the Little River.

Don’t ford the river for this hike. Instead take some time to wander downstream and enjoy the sliding cascades nearby. A few dozen yards below the ford on the near bank you should be able to make out a faint trail entering the woods in a westerly direction. This path is an unofficial connector over to the Little River Trail, barely 100-yards away. The quasi-bushwhack is an easy one and before you know it you’ll pop out on the Little River Trail which you’ll now turn northward onto. This is once again a very popular trail as it forms a main portion of the standard loop over nearby Cedar Rock. After a half-mile of mostly flat walking you’ll reach the southern junction of the Little River and Cedar Rock Trails. Make a left on this trail and let the fun begin! It doesn’t take long before the forest gives way to bare rock, the most expansive of which are reached in barely a quarter-mile. Widely scattered pines dot the granite slopes, as do thick mats of moss and lichen. PLEASE don’t walk on these mats, they’re extremely sensitive to disturbance. The views open up quickly as you climb the barren slopes which, save for a couple small stands of trees, extend nearly all the way to the summit. A large trail sign marks the top of the eastern slope, where the Cedar Rock Trail meets the Big Rock Trail. Turning onto the Big Rock Trail the path quickly crosses the forested true summit of Cedar Rock and beginning the moderately steep descent off the west side of the mountain. There is a small area of open ledges to enjoy on this side of the mountain as well, ledges which in my opinion offer up the best views of the entire hike. After passing the western ledges it’s simply a ¾-mile downhill walk back to the trailhead.

This is a fantastic hike, despite the crowds you’ll inevitably encounter on Cedar Rock. Adding the Burnt Mountain Trail into the mix helps immensely, in that it gives you at least half the hike to spend in a quieter part of the woods. The difficulty for this one isn’t terrible but some will find it challenging, especially with the moderately steep climbs up Burnt Mountain and Cedar Rock. Cedar Rock never disappoints, though, so the effort is well worth it. With that said it’s my pleasure to present you a hike of what I’ve dubbed the Burnt Mountain-Cedar Rock Loop, at DuPont State Forest. As always, I hope you ENJOY!!

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  35.172859, -82.638788

Route Type:  Loop + spur           Difficulty:  CHALLENGING  (Petzoldt Rating:  7.20)

Hike Length:  5.7 miles                Hike Duration:  2:30

Trailhead Temp:  45'F                 Trail Traffic:  25-50 people

Min. Elevation:  2,660'                  Max. Elevation:  3,100'

Total Vertical Gain:  750'             Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  132'

Trails Used (blaze color):  Big Rock (unblazed), Burnt Mountain (unblazed), Cedar Rock (unblazed), Corn Mill Shoals (unblazed), Little River (unblazed), Nook's (unblazed)


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