Guide to the Pink Beds Loop Hike (Winter 2024)

Pink Beds Loop Hiking Guide

The Pink Beds Loop trail is an easy to moderate 5.3 mile creekside hike near Asheville. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in nature.

Pink Beds Loop trailhead sign with map.

Pink Beds Loop Quick Facts

A few details about the Pink Beds Loop trail.

Trailhead location: US 276 Pisgah Forest, NC

Trail length: 5.3 mile loop

Difficulty: easy to moderate due to trail conditions

Elevation change: minimal

Distance from downtown Asheville: 32 miles

Drive time from downtown Asheville: 50 minutes (You can take the Blue Ridge Parkway)

Trail Condition: Be prepared to get wet! muddy (especially after rain), creek crossing, some areas with lots of roots

Getting to the Pink Beds Loop trailhead

The trail is located in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard along Pisgah Highway (Highway 276).

If driving from downtown Asheville, you can either take 151 S through Candler or hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway by the NC Arboretum. Both are right at 32 miles and a 50 minute drive. We personally enjoy the parkway!

Another option is to add the Pink Beds Loop Trail to our daytrip itinerary from Asheville to Brevard and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This loop drives right past the Pink Beds Loop trailhead, so you could plan to picnic at Pink Beds or hike the trail if time allows.

About the Pink Beds Loop Trail

The Pink Beds Loop Trail starts off from the Pink Beds Picnic Area parking lot.

You will see a sign for Pink Beds Loop with a map on it. The trail starts just past the vehicle gate and takes you into the forest. After about 0.1 miles you will come to a bridge that crosses the Mills River – South Fork.

Shortly after crossing the river, you will come to a fork where the loop splits. We like to stay to the left at the fork and complete the loop in a clockwise direction. For the next mile or so you will hike through alternating sections of forest and beautiful forest clearings.

Water Crossing on the Pink Beds Loops Trail

After about one and a half miles you will come to a creek crossing where there was formerly a bridge.

Unfortunately, the bridge is gone making this the first challenge of the hike. You will need to find stepping stones or logs to cross the creek in this area without getting your feet wet (or take your boots and socks off.) Once you find a way across be sure to find the trail with orange blazes before you set off again.

Barnett Branch Trail Shortcut

After you have successfully gotten across the water, you will come to an intersection with the Barnett Branch Trail. If you take this trail to the right (towards the south) you will connect back with the Pink Beds Loop and cut off about 2 miles of the trail length.

Completing the Loop

From this point, you will continue along the trail through the woods. You will come to some pretty areas with the forest floor covered with ferns. Soon you will be to the halfway point where you will meet up with the South Fork of the Mills River again and the loop will begin meandering back towards the trailhead.

The remainder of the trail travels through lush forest and stays pretty close to the river. There are several spots where you can get down to the river to explore and lots of bridges where you cross back and forth.

Pink Beds Loop Trail Condition

Because the trail travels along rivers and creeks most of the way, there is a lot of water in the area. A lot of sections of the trail can have standing water and mud, especially after rain. We definitely suggest wearing boots or waterproof shoes – this is not a tennis shoe kind of hike!

The trail has been improved and raised boardwalks and gravel paths have been installed in several areas to help the mud issue, but there are still plenty of wet spots to slog through.

There are also areas that have a lot of roots adding a bit to the difficulty traversing the path.

Enjoying Pink Beds Trail with Kids

The trail can be a bit long and tedious for kids, but we have some recommendations to make it fun.

The picnic area is great for kids and the hike to the creek and back seems to be the perfect length for little ones. There is great creek access about 0.1 miles down the trail before the trail splits for the loop. You will see easy access to the river and a bridge to cross the river at this point. It’s a great place for kids to splash and explore!

If you are looking for a longer hike with kids but don’t want to make the full Pink Beds Loop, you can also take the Barnett Branch Trail shortcut to make it about a three-mile loop. Beware that this shorter loop still crosses the creek where the bridge is missing, so you will want to be prepared for that!

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