Cemetery Loop Trail

Cemetery Loop Trail

The Cemetery Loop Trail is a pleasant and short footpath which, when combined with the nearby Long Branch Trail offers a quick loop hike into a lesser-visited corner of Pisgah National Forest. Along the way there’s a decent variety of habitats to be seen but, as its name implies, the main attraction is the 19th Century Cemetery which it passes at its far eastern extremity. Named the McCall Cemetery, it is named for the family and descendants of Samuel McCall who settled nearby in the late 1700’s. Many of Samuel’s descendants are buried here, along with a few other families, in a serenely beautiful spot at the base of a low pine covered ridge. The hike can begin from one of two pull-offs, separated by only a couple hundred feet, for either the Long Branch or Cemetery Loop Trails. These neighboring trailheads are located about at a point along Forest Road 475 either 0.6-miles east of Gloucester Gap or 5.3-miles west of U.S. 276. There’s no “better way” to hike the loop as there’s little elevation change and the old cemetery sits at about exactly the halfway point. Completely arbitrarily I’d be hiking it in a counter-clockwise direction this day. The Long Branch Trail is, elevation-wise, the lower portion of the hike as the route follows the rhododendron and laurel covered lowlands surrounding its namesake stream. The east end of the Cemetery Loop begins at a point where the Long Branch Trail makes a hard turn right (south). From that point it’s only a short uphill climb to the old cemetery. After spending some time respectfully walking among the gravestones the loop continues by climbing a pine covered ridge to the east end of the old forest road. This road is occasionally opened by the Forest Service to allow descendants of those buried at the cemetery to visit. The Cemetery Loop Trail, for the rest of its way back to Forest Road 475, follows this old access road. Staying atop the ridge the trail/road winds its way through a forest dominated in most places by pine before gently descending to its western terminus. From this point it’s a quick two minute walk back along Forest Road 475 to close the loop.

Overall this is a pleasant loop. It’s not flashy or all that scenic, but it’s quiet and serene…just as a walk to and from and old cemetery should be. It’s an easy hike, suitable for anyone, allowing those who walk it to contemplate what life must have been like for those who carved a life for themselves among these mountains so long ago. That said, I present to you a quick loop hike around the Cemetery Loop and Long Branch Trails…and, as always…ENJOY!!


Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  35.273505, -82.841626


Route Type:  Loop                       Difficulty:  EASY  (Petzoldt Rating:  2.46 )

Hike Length:  2.2 miles                Hike Duration:  1:00

Trailhead Temp:  40'F                  Trail Traffic:  NONE!!

Min. Elevation:  2,950'                  Max. Elevation:  3,080'

Total Vertical Gain:  130'              Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  59'


Trails Used (blaze color):  Cemetery Loop (yellow), Long Branch (orange)


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