The Ramsey's Draft Loop is beautiful with ridge line valley
views, springs and streams but is tiring with long
ascents and knob traverses on the 11.0 mile first day. Unlike
most ridge trails the Bald Ridge Trail is a long series of
ascents and descents of six knobs. It is 6+ hours of hiking
to one of several great camp spots anywhere from Hiner Spring
and below. Also note that some portions of the trails are hard
to spot and not well marked.
Start out at the end of the parking lot for 150
yards then turn right where a trail will cross Ramsey's Draft.
We needed to go about 50 yards upstream to find a low
water spot to cross. Follow the trail as it begins to ascend
the mountain for the longest steepest section of the loop as
it winds up to the ridge in 2.0 miles.
At the ridge turn left
as the trail you have been following now continues
down the other side of the mountain. Follow the ridge trail 4.5
miles (yellow diamond marked in places) as it crosses The Peak,
Bald Ridge Knob, The Pinnacle and Gordon Peak before arriving
at the next trail junction.
There is a small clearing with a trail coming in from the right
and pond to your left. Continue around the pond on the right
side where the trail continues uphill, then descends and in 1.7
miles arrives at the next trail junction.
Turn hard left at this junction and gradually ascend
for 1.3 miles to arrive at Hiner Spring. There are several good
camp sites here.
Turn hard left downhill staying to the left of the stream down
the valley (the trail does not become apparent for about 150
yards as it passes over rocks). In 0.3 miles you will pass several
great camp sites. Choose one for your camping spot.
Continue down the trail as crosses the steam and
in 0.4 miles turns more to the right. For the next
3.0 miles you will cross Ramsey's Draft several more times before
arriving at the intersection of the Jerry's Run Trail that comes
in from the right.Cross the draft again continuing down the
trail as it crosses back and forth several more times for 2.1
miles where you will arrive at the next rail intersection.
Stay left continuing next to the draft for the
remaining 0.1 miles back to the parking area.
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Reviews For The Ramseys Draft Hike (5 Most Recent)
As part of my journey into a mid-life crisis, I tackled this hike for literally the third time in as many weeks, each time making this a one day trip (although I would not recommend this to anyone who is not fully prepared for 17-20 miles of walking all at an aggressive pace. Hoping to start this hike at daybreak, I actually did not start until early afternoon and after the first few miles under sunny weather, the clouds quickly rolled in along with the rain. Taking a brief stop at Hiner Spring and noting the amount of water at that point, I decided to head down the draft instead of back along the spine of the ridge. Some thunder around me helped keep me moving and while the stream crossings the past two times were a breeze, the water was now up to knee/ mid thigh, so all hopes of staying dry were gone. About 2/3 down the draft (and with little light overhead) I came across a bear and three of her cubs (first time ever seeing them in the wild). After making my presence known and waiting a few minutes, I noted all the cubs climbing up a large Hemlock and I continued on my way. With the help of a flashlight and prior knowledge of the trail heading south, I made it back to the lot at 9 p.m. While I am in no way recommending this to a novice hiker or as a day trip, this has clearly become my favorite spot to hike (and where else can you spend almost an entire day in complete isolation?).
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
A group of 4 of us hiked this loop April 26-27. The 11 mile hike on the first day was the longest that 2 of them had ever hiked and we all enjoyed every step of it. I think as the last guy commented if I could rate this a 6 in difficulty I would. out of 5 is an exaggeration. This is a moderate 3. We covered the first day's 11 miles in 6 hours even with our many 'photo ops' and taking a break at the pond for lunch. The best part about the first day is that the scenery and trail is always changing so you never get bored. The rock scramble is a quick climb up a rock. A single rock. No repelling gear needed. The views are great since the trees have not leafed out yet. We also did not see any poison ivy as others had stated. We encountered only 1 other group who camped near the pond and was kind enough to leave trash everywhere. We packed it out for them. After that point, the trail description states 'moderate uphill for 1.7 miles' yeah, about that. It is more than moderate. After sitting down and eating it feels more like scaling mount Everest. You do loose the trail a few times but with some common sense you will pick it up by just stopping and looking around. Yes there are down trees but it only adds to the adventure. The trail comes to a 3 way junction at a new sign, make a hard left and after another couple miles uphill you can see the ridge you just traversed on your left then you will reach a clearing that is the Hiner Spring camping area. The spring was strong, cold and clean. We hung our hammocks and enjoyed the rest of the evening in peace with the exception of a few people looking for the Hardscrabble Knob trail. The next day we left camp in the rain and fog only to find a beautiful, mossy covered trail leading down to the draft. You will cross the draft 21 times!! We diligently counted to provide you with an accurate review. You're welcome! 2 of us wore Vibram Five Fingers the whole day and had no issues, those in boots found them full of water by stream crossing 15. All in all, this was a great trip and I would give it a high chance of going back with relatively new hikers.
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
I did this hike as overnight solo backpacking trip and added a few side excursions to bring the total hike to around 20 miles. This hike gives you a ton of variety and as the last person commented you never get bored with the different terrain. I have previously done this same circuit as a day hike and found this hike as an overnight one of the most difficult I have done. I'm sure my 60+lb bag had something to do with it. The first two miles are pretty strenuous if you don't stop. The 5 miles along the ridge before the pond is constantly up and down. The next 2 miles aren't so bad. The last 1.5 miles until Hiner Spring isn't bad either. There were several groups camped out near the spring, but otherwise didn't see a single person the rest of the trip. I hiked up Hardscrabble Knob and although the view was limited I had the peak to myself. The next morning I hiked out the remaining 7 miles in the rain and crossed Ramsey Draft over 20 times. Because of the rain the water levels were just high enough to make crossing without getting wet very difficult. My shoes were soaked, but the path ran along the water which was nice. Overall, I highly recommend this hike. It is one of my favorites.
Date of Hike: Saturday, January 05, 2013
Probably the hardest hike I have ever done. If I could give this a 6 in difficulty I would. We normally hike at an average of 2.5-3 mph regardless of terrain, but this hike for the up mountain section reduced our pace to 1-1.5mph. Keep this in mind if you attempt to negotiate this trail in the winter. With 3 inches of snow and 10 miles up mountain, this is no hike for the non-conditioned hiker. Down mountain we were able to maintain a speed of 2.5-3.5mph, with hiccups in our pace only during creek crossings. Aprox a dozen creek crossings. Besides the difficulty, the views were great, so many vistas. Camping was sparce due to the snow coverage, so we ended up creating a new camp site, with only 30 minutes left before sunset. The second half of the hike, the south side of the trail hiking down mountain was much easier and pleasurable. It was entertaining seeing so many animal tracks. This side of the forest is extremely lively. We saw tracks for turkeys, big cats, bears, deer, dogs, and rabbits.
Date of Hike: Thursday, October 11, 2012
A friend and I (hailing from Washington D.C. and Johnson City, TN respectively) chose Ramseys Draft because it appeared to be midway between our homes. After the first boot-step into the wilderness, we knew we'd chosen well! The trailhead was tucked off route 250 and was well-marked. I hooked a right onto the Bald Ridge trail and ascended 2 miles to the ridge top before discovering a beautiful campsite only 1/4 mile on the Right. The sunset was amazing and the sunset was gorgeous. The following day we followed the ridge West, filtered some of the coolest, cleanest water from Hiner Spring (great camping opportunities here, especially for large groups) and camped at Hardscrabble Knob. There is a nice boulder field there and an abandoned cabin that was worth exploring. It was evident there hadn't been much activity there for quite a while, which made this spur hike well-worth the short climb. Day 3 led us back down past the spring and onto Ramseys Draft toward the trailhead. At the junction with Jerrys Run we opted to leave the wilderness for a brutal climb up to Crawford Knob in the GWNF. This is a beautifully rugged area with ample opportunities for wildlife viewing, scenic vistas and riverside exploration. The trail seemed to change endlessly from closed-in rhododendrun tunnels to knifes-ridge walks, fern gulleys to meadows. The Trails Illustrated map is very accurate and worth the $12. Enjoy!