I will combine Pilot Cove Loop and the Slate Rock trail to make a 5.8 mile loop trail, all in all we did 9.2 miles total.
Starting at the eastern end of our map at the Slate Rock Creek trail-head we found some parking near the guard rail. Slate Rock Creek crosses the road here and we will start up the trail with the creek on our left.
Slate Rock Creek trail has a moderate if not easy grade, slowly going up.
I had left the house with my slippers! So, along the way we found a salvation army store and picked up a nice pair of hiking shoes for $4.
After about a mile and a half we came across a nice camp site that would handle 2 tents nicely.
all along the way so far we found great trout holes and easy stream walking. This would be a great place to camp and fish! in another mile we found another camp site, this one even larger could do 3 tents here and very easy to get in the stream.
We found a lot of mushrooms, some edible, many not. A beautiful water fall in the distant and some bridge crossings as well as some stone stepping were required. We did find a third large camp site that could hold 5-7 tents. There is a rock face that climbers come to scale – they use this camp site.
After about 3 miles from the start we came upon a tree with 2 red ribbons, this marked our left turn over the last stream crossing. I went ahead and took the uphill path going straight it turned out to be a trail leading up to join with Laurel Mountain trail 78 at Sassafras Gap – not an easy grade, but if you wanted to hike trail 78 and go right at Sassafras Gap, you’d have a 6 mile hike down to Yellow Gap and another mile back to where we parked.
In another mile or so you’ll come to a rest point – great place to stop and have some lunch. Here, the Pilot Cove Loop #320A intersects to the left – if we were to go left and take the loop back at this point we would have had some long range views and added another .75 miles. We decided to continue straight ahead. After another crossing.
We passed through some open areas before crossing the creek. The trail loops away from the stream for approximately at times due to a former beaver pond, before crossing and following it again. Shortly thereafter we passed the other end of Pilot Cove Loop, and then came out on the road again (FS1206). A left turn onto the road took us back to the slate rock trailhead where we parked in another 1.5 miles.
All in all we did 9.6 miles:
From Waynesville follow US-276 S toward Brevard for 23.9 miles, Turn left onto National Forest Rd/Yellow Gap Rd for 6.7 miles. Parking spots will be on the left.
Bring water and snacks and something to eat.