Devil’s Marbleyard Long Loop

Basics: Hiking Distance – approx. 14 miles; Difficulty – Strenuous overall, though some easy segments; Highlights – Devil’s Marbleyard, some limited views from ridges; Carpool Fee – $3.50.

Full Description: This will be a long (about 14 miles) and moderately strenuous take on an old regional classic.  Like with most of my hikes, I would recommend this hike only for those in fairly good shape.  And also like with most of my hikes, we will be doing a bit of off-trail hiking and hiking on very lightly maintained trails.  I would recommend long pants and bug spray, especially for chiggers.

The loop will begin and end at Locher’s Tract on the James River.  We’ll start on the Balcony Falls Trail then thread our way through the woods and on old woods roads to the northern terminus of the Glenwood Horse Trail (GHT).  This area was recently part of a prescribed forest burn, so while mostly flat, it will be a little rough going. Once on the GHT, we’ll walk around to the Belfast Trail.  This section is a bit ho-hum and is right on the edge of the national forest.  We’ll then take the Belfast Trail up to the Marbleyard.  I hope to spend a significant time exploring the rocks.

The return leg of the loop will feature the rest of the Belfast Trail steeply up to the Gunter Ridge Trail, that trail to the AT, and then a brief stint on the AT.  We’ll then retreat down the ridge on the lengthy Balcony Falls Trail back to Locher’s Tract with some views toward Glasgow as we go.  The last couple of miles will be through the burn zone, so we may just forget the trail and make our own route.