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Bradley Creek Trail


By:  Tom Thomas, Trail Boss Pisgah Trailblazers

Pisgah National ForestNorth Carolina



Here is my third trail information and update:  Bradley Creek Trail Length:  5.3 miles – 8.4km to Yellow Gap Road. Use:  Heavy Difficulty:  Moderate - USGS Map:  Pisgah Forest, DunsmoreMountain.  Average Hiking time 4 hours to Yellow Gap Road from Turkey Pen parking lot.

RECOMMENDED SEASON:  Spring through Fall (Bradley Creek Trail should be avoided during the Winter months and during periods of heavy rain.)

PARKING TRAILERS:  Horse trailers can be parked at the Turkey Pen Parking lot at 2600 feet, 780 meters in elevation.  This parking lot is at the Transylvania/Henderson County line off of state road 280.  From the Pisgah Ranger Station in Pisgah Forest which is on 276, precede south toward Brevard on US 276 to the first stoplight – turn left on NC 280.  Follow NC 280 for five miles to the Hendersonville Transylvania county line.  Turn left on FS Rd. # 297 and follow Turkey Pen Road (a one-lane dirt road with turnouts for passing) for a distance of approx. 1-¾ miles where the trail begins.  The parking lot at the end of the gravel road has designated horse trailer parking and adequate space to turn a 4-horse trailer around. 

START OF TRAIL: At the far end of the parking lot you follow the gated old logging road down to South Mills River. Bradley Creek Trail starts where the logging road T’s with S. Mills River and Bradley Creek Trail bearing to the right at this point.  There is a trail sign marking both S. Mills River Trail and Bradley Creek Trail at this point.  You will follow an old roadbed on the north side of S. Mills River to your first river ford about ¼ mile down stream.  You now will follow Bradley Creek Trail along the S. Mills River for approximately ½ mile where the trail goes up and to the left. (Riverside Trail continues to follow S. Mills River.) Now you begin a steady climb up to Pea GapWhen you have reached Pea Gap (There will be a sign for the start of Squirrel Gap Trail to the left.) Now you have a little down hill grade until the trail flattens out as you pass the other side of Riverside Trail (marked by a trail sign and followed by a stream crossing to the right)and the beginning of  several wildlife openings.  From this point the Bradley Creek Trail follows Bradley Creek as it goes by another wildlife opening passes the old Hendersonville Watershed Intake and continues up to Yellow Gap Road.  (The trail section from the Hendersonville Watershed Intake to Yellow Gap Road needs work.)

TRAIL MAPS:  Be smart and don’t leave without a Pisgah Forest Trail map.  This map can be acquired at Highlands Books and Back Country Outdoors in Brevard, the Pisgah Forest Ranger Station on 276 or Diamond Brand in Fletcher, off of interstate 26.

            TRAIL ENDS:  The Bradley Creek Trail ends at Yellow Gap Road BUT, you can go right on Yellow Gap Road and ride uphill to the crest of the mountain.  At mountain crest you will find a gated fire road to your right.  The fire road will take you back down to the last wildlife field before the Hendersonville Watershed on Bradley Creek Trail. (Check your map.)

            HORSE TRAILS THAT COME OFF OF SMRT:  The first trail you come to is River Side Trail, which goes off on the right side of Bradley Creek Trail as Bradley Creek Trail starts uphill and goes away from S. Mills River. River Side Trail loops around following S. Mills River to join up to Bradley Creek Trail once again. The second trail you come to is Squirrel Gap Trail that leaves Bradley Creek Trail on the left side at Pea Gap and will loop back around to South Mills River Trail if you take a left on Mullinax Trail at the old Mullinax home site or you can go right at the home site and stay on Squirrel Gap Trail which will link to Laurel Creek Trail which will take you back to Bradley Creek Trail. Laurel Creek Trail intersects Bradley Creek Trail on the left at the wildlife field just before the old Hendersonville Intake.  (Looking at a map will make this less confusing.)


ATTRACTIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS: The trail goes through second growth hemlock, oak and tulip poplar with good sections through large stands of mountain laurel and rhododendron, which are spectacular in the spring.  This trail is also spectacular in the fall.  The entire length of Bradley Creek is excellent for trout fishing.

            Some creek crossings can be difficult at high water times. (Flooding)  Water is normally between ½ foot to 2 ½ feet.  This trail is a multi-use trail where you will see bikers, hikers, trout fisherman, and equestrians. The trail is in good shape since it follows an old roadbed up to the old Hendersonville Intake.  From the Intake up to Yellow Gap Road you are on a near trail that crosses Bradley Creek several times and is very narrow.  The wildlife openings along Bradley Creek are sites of heavy camper use and provide many excellent primitive camping sites and the equestrian will find pasture for his/her horses during the late spring, summer, and fall.