Hike the Rocky Branch and Limestone Cove Trail

Rocky Branch Trailhead

Rocky Branch is a small stream in the Limestone Cove area of Unicoi County, TN. This scenic hike is dog-friendly.

The trail starts from just beyond the old Limestone Cove campground and runs 3.9 miles to Stamping Ground Ridge high atop Unaka Mountain. The first mile or so is fairly easy but from then on it can be very challenging. Eventually you'll intersect with the trail coming down from Stamping Ground Ridge, turn right onto this trail and you'll soon arrive at your destination.

The Limestone Cove Trail (FS Trail #30) climbs 2200’ in 3.8 miles from the recreation area to Stamping Ground Ridge. From the new trailhead at a locked gate, follow an old Forest Service Road 4343 for 0.3 miles to a sharp right onto a wide, grassy trail. Cross Rocky Branch stream at 1.2 miles, then climb steadily with some steep sections up old logging roads through regrowth hardwoods and rhododendron. In a pretty gap covered with red spruce, reach a junction with the Stamping Ground Ridge Trail at 3.8 miles. A right turn leads 0.4 miles to the Stamping Ground Ridge overlook and parking area on Forest Road 230 (Unaka Mountain Road). This last leg has the views of the nearby mountains and valleys.

Directions:

From I-26 take the Unicoi exit (#32). At the end of exit ramp turn east towards town. At the stop sign, turn right onto Unicoi Road (which is also known locally as the Erwin Highway) and proceed for 0.7 miles. Follow the signs pointing to the Cherokee National Forest by turning left onto Rt. 107 (Limestone Cove Road). Drive for approximately 3.5 miles, you'll see the Limestone Cove picnic area on your left, Rocky Branch Road is on the right. Turn right here and follow Rocky Branch Road for approximately 1/3 mile till you reach a gate and a gravel parking area on your left. Park your vehicle and then continue following the forest service road on foot for approx. 1/2 mile, just before the road makes a sharp turn to the left and crosses Rocky Branch, look for a trailhead marker on your right.

Photos: coloneljohnbritt, coloneljohnbritt, M Fletcher

Pack List

  • Hiking gear
  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
Show More
RT Distance 7.6 Miles
Elevation Gain 2200 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Waterfall
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Requires A Bit Of Bushwhacking

The trail needs some work which might make this trek less enjoyable for most. If you are looking for solidarity this is a good choice. Trail is in the woods the entire time until the last climb which leads to a road and parking lot at the top. I wouldn't choose to hike this one again.

solid day hike. bring supplies and a good camera and you'll be stoked.


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