Thrift Cove Loop Trail
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Thrift Cove loop is an always delightful hike, not too long (4.7 miles) and for local hikers, very easy to get to, given how close the trailhead is to Brevard (it is located just before the Pisgah Ranger Station on Hwy 276). It is a loop hike, that also lends itself well to longer treks, since it connects with several other trails.
The loop encircles a gorgeous cove created by a creek which originates just south of Hickory Knob off Black Mountain Trail.
This hike delightful anytime of year, but especially in the spring when the first wildflowers are coming out.
My most recent hike here was in early April of 2011, and it appears that I was about 1-2 weeks too early for many of the flowers that will soon be sprouting out. This day’s hike revealed fiddlehead ferns, yellow violets, and dogwood trees just beginning to bloom.
I generally do the loop in a clockwise rotation, going up Black Mountain Trail first, and picking up the Cove’s loop around the 2800 foot elevation point where these two trails diverge near the upper end of the cove. This gets the steeper section of climbing out of the way first; the trail follows the lower section of Thrift Cove creek the entire way, with several areas of rapids, that, especially after a good rainfall are quite full and picturesque.
Small Rapid along Thrift Cove Creek
Doing the hike in a clockwise rotation will bring you to the turnoff to Thrift Cove around the 1.3 mile point (see waypoint on GPS track, below). This juncture of Black Mountain Trail and Thrift Cove Loop is not so much a turn as a fork in the road. Thrift Cove continues straight, while Black Mountain veers off to the left.
Juncture of Black Mountain Trail and Thrift Cove Loop
At this point, you enter the cove near its upper end. The remainder of the loop has you hiking around the perimeter of the cove, which is a fairly narrow, long cove; filled with holly trees and hardwoods, and the creek running through the middle, and the entire cove surrounded by two forested mountain ridges on either side.
The terrain in the cove is very gently sloping downhill following the downstream run of the creek. The tree cover is not thick at all --- which provides a lot of open grassy areas, and lots and lots of wildflowers. You’ll have a dozen spots to choose from for a great lunch spot! Just wander down towards the creek from the trail and pick a nice sunny spot!
Above: Creek running through Thrift Cove
Below: Scene from Thrift Cove
The loop trail curves around the north end of the cove, and then turns south. This portion of the trail winds you in and out of a few smaller coves, and then gently climbs to the top of the mountain ridge on the east side of the cove.
The entire trail is quite wide, easily allowing side by side walking if you’re walking with another person.
Thrift Cove Trail
Once you leave the cove, the trail begins heading more steeply downhill back towards the trailhead. Near the southern portion of the loop, you intersect two other trails: first Grassy Road Trail, and then Sycamore Cove trail, both of which take you a little further east if you want to extend your hike. (Taking either of these trails will also bring you out on highway 276, either 3/4 mile down or 3/8 mile down from the original trailhead, depending upon which of the two “sides” of these loops you take. In either case, turn RIGHT onto 276 to get back to where you parked.)
Remaining on Thrift Cove trail brings you back to Black Mountain Trail, just 0.2mile from the trailhead.
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GPX data for download: Thrift Cove Loop Trail.
The trailhead for this hike begins in an open parking area on the right side of highway 276 (if coming from Brevard), just adjacent to the maintenance work area for the Forest Service. This is just before the Pisgah Forest Ranger Station, and right across the road from the turn in to Davidson River Campground. (Another landmark to look for is the high power electric lines which go directly over the parking area).
The trail begins right off the parking area, and is easy to follow the entire way. Intersections with the various trails are well labeled.
Total distance: 4.7 miles. Elevation gain: 800 feet.