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Hiker Comments for the Brown Mountain Hike - 1 to 7 of 7   
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By: Dave O Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 22, 2019
I added the RockyTop loop to make this an 18 mile, 2 night backpack trip. The views were beautiful, and wildflowers everywhere. One of the vistas i was looking forward to was guarded by a rattlesnake, but that just adds to the wilderness fun. I've never backpacked inside a National Park before, and I was worried it would be too crowded, but instead it was as empty of people as anywhere else I have backpacked. I met a couple volunteers maintaining trails. I learned that some of the trails are maintained by volunteers and others by the NP. It turns out the volunteers do a great job, but the trails maintained by the NP have several downed trees that were very challenging to get around.

Two mild complaints that cause the rating of 4 vs 5: My last couple backpacking outings were in West Virginia and I got spoiled by finding very comfortable rocks to sit on at my campsites. On this hike I had only logs, and one afternoon it rained, so the sitting was not great. Second, I've had the good fortune on past hikes to not need my insect repellent, but on this trip the mosquitoes and ticks were intense. But I'm not complaining, it was a great hike.

By: Philip Indorf Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Overnight backpack, with camping at the last site. Saw 4 bears the first day, had to ford the Big run multiple times. 2nd half all uphill with some interesting environment changes due to the fire... including a LOT of blueberry bushes. 2nd half is moderately overgrown with several downed trees (nothing crazy) and encroaching shrubbery.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Done as a quick midweek overnight/sunrise hike, camping at the last site mentioned (at mile 5.1). This is definitely the most scenic of the campsites with the high walls of the portal rising over you and easy water access, but also has the smallest available footprint. I was able to rock hop almost all the Big Run crossings without too much trouble. The final one (mile 4.8) required wading. Trail is in good condition overall but could use some clearing in the spring - especially from miles 5.3-9.6, where a number of decent sized trees are down on the trail. Agree with previous reviewers, this loop has a little bit of everything - I will probably start recommending it over Riprap as a great south SNP sampler.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 14, 2018
This is an exceptionally enjoyable circuit for SNP...exceptional scenery including miles of accompanying a stream that grows into a small river as tributaries join it, with numerous small falls and cascades, and miles of ridgeline with long views on one side of the trail, at this time of year. If you long for alpine streams, like what you'd see in the Rockies, this is a hidden gem. I've hiked dozens of trails in the SNP and in GW national forest, and this is an instant favorite that I will definitely do again.

Intensity is substantial: I rank the difficulty of all my hikes relative to Old Rag, the gold standard in this area, and this is a little more difficult than that in amount of total physical exertion (not technically, tho). I can no longer run long distance due to hip problems, so I rely on these long day hikes to achieve that feeling of being depleted, of having to push forward even when exhausted. To arriving back at my car a different man than the one who left it a few hours prior. This hike will definitely do that for you, if you are a seasoned trekker also seeking that experience. At 15 degrees fahrenheit, I didn't expect to see anyone else out here, and I did not. Though it did not rain for a couple days prior, Big Portal was completely impassable without wading through the 4 crossings that Big Portal trail takes. At 10-15 degrees air temperature, this was not fun (it's 1-2 feet deep and about 20' wide). After wading across the first two, with my toes still thawing out when I arrived at the third crossing, I decided, F this, I'll just stay on the North side and blaze my way through the woods for the next 1/2 mile until I meet up with the trail when it comes back over to this side. Well...it was not a mere walk in the woods! Turns out the trail crossed to the south side because the north side became a near cliff face for most of that 1/2 mile. Fortunately, I had a powerbar and a good collapsible staff in my pack...wasn't easy, but it can be done, if you're looking for a challenge! In retrospect, if I was going to circumvent 2 stream crossings, it would have been easier to do this on the first two which were only a tenth of a mile apart. The best alpine vista on this route imo -- not a mountaintop, but still spectacular -- is accessed by backtracking upstream along the north side of the stream in the streambed (was low enough to do on this day) upstream from the metal bridge about 100-150 yards, and then turning to look downstream (south-westward). The portal walls frame the sides of your view, with the stream disappearing out of the center of your view. Someday when I invest in a good SLR, I'm gonna come back here with a wide angle lens and a tripod and photograph this. Its the view that I took with me and stored in my memory, that comes drifting back in my daydreams over the past few days since experiencing it. I love when a landscape gets lodged in my memory like that. It's one of the aspects of trekking that impels me to keep going out weekend after weekend, chasing that natural beauty.

By: BrewMoon Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 4, 2017
This was my 3rd hike in Shen NP and favorite so far (other 2 were White Oak/Cedar Run & Jones Run/Doyles River). Doing it over, though, I think it might be a bit easier in the opposite direction. Also, the number of crossings of Big Run is pretty ridiculous and the trail seems to cross at areas where rocks aren't available--on most I had to cross 50 yds up or downstream. The climb back up the Brown Mountain trail was a bit tiring, but once near the top, I really enjoyed the ups and downs back to the first split. The red bushes mentioned by the other poster on top of Brown Mtn were really colorful for this late in the year. Didn't really see much for animals and only a couple groups hiking. Really enjoyed the hike on an interesting weather day in and out of the clouds.

By: Ash Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 8, 2017
This hike had everything that I like, nice variation between rocky and rock less sections, streams (with about ~6 stream crossings), beautiful vistas, and ridge line hiking. As of Oct 2017 the higher sections are recovering nicely from the 2016 burn. I'm not sure if it's Mountain Laurel or some other bush but it is thiriving at the higher elevations and is full of red and orange color. This is the perfect time to do this hike as the entire trail had nice color of some sorts. Yellows dominate the lower portions while oranges and reds surround you as you get higher. Some trails just give you a feeling of adventure and this one definitely delivers. I will do this hike again, probably next weekend!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 8, 2017
I really liked this one! Gorgeous streams, really nice views, and much more solitude than other hikes in most of the lower SNP. Saw 3 groups all day and 2 were camping on Big Run. Hiked its sister, Rocky Mount, last weekend and thought that was a nice hike, but this one is definitely better. If I look past the fire damage, I like it even better than Riprap. 5 hours including a 30 minute lunch, pauses for views, and stream crossings for this 63 year old. If youre in shape, less than 5 hours easy.

I hiked it as described and agree this is the better direction, but not because of the climb out. Actually, this way is a steeper climb in 3 miles going from the Big Run to the top of Rocky Mountain and you still have the same 0.7 mile slog at the end. But, if you really enjoy streams, this way lets you hike down a steep mountain swale, watch it become an intermittent stream, then a 1st order perennial stream, to a pretty 2nd order stream, and finally a beautiful 3rd order stream with Big Run. That said, unless you are a Shaolin priest dancing over large gaps, Big Run was too high to cross without getting wet. 4 times I pulled off my shoes and socks to wade across, then dry my feet and put the shoes back on, but it was great to connect with the stream in this way. Good pole is essential to cross the slippery rocks! Id say I might be able to rock hop it by June or July in a normal year. Also, I like having a well-earned lunch break at a vista after a climb and this direction does that. I think Spring before the leaves come on is the perfect time as the views along the trail up from Big Run are incredible and the heat in the fire damaged areas will be tough in summer. Finally, like Rocky Mount last week, no ticks. Did the fire knock them back?

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