3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
The Green River Game Lands have claimed one of the top spots among Western NC locals, contending with other nearby destinations like Dupont and Pisgah. Most people begin their hike at the trailhead along Green River Cove Road.
After exiting from I-26, the road follows a long series of dangerous switchbacks that should be driven with extreme caution.
Once the road levels and parallels the river, you will find a couple of gravel pull-offs near the trailhead. This hike can be completed in either direction.
If completed clockwise, you will climb gradually during most of the loop and end with a steep descent.
If reversed, an intense climb up the Bluff Trail will begin your hike. The southern portion of the loop parallels the world-famous Green River Narrows.
According to [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrows_of_the_Green), "The Green Narrows is best known for being one of the most extreme kayaking runs in the Eastern US." At the junction with Pulliam Creek Trail keep right as the trail spirals around an elevation contour, eventually paralleling Pulliam Creek.
This segment is particularly renowned for the variety of flora lining the trail and the cascading flow of the creek. This route then follows the Rock Hop trail, where you should expect to get your feet wet if there's been a recent rain.
A gradual climb up Bishop Branch leads onto another dirt road, where you can snag some partial mountain views through intermittent clearings.
A steady descent down Stairstep Falls Trails leads to its namesake feature.
A small clearing allows an excellent vantage point to view the falls before the trail enters a rhododendron tunnel en route for the Bluff Trail.
Popular among mountain bikers, the trail descends roughly 700 feet in about a mile before terminating near the trailhead. Know that this area is popular among hunters, particularly between September and May.
Though deer season ends December, other seasons remain open through the spring.
Weekends are typically the most active time, and wearing blaze orange is highly recommended. Sources: https://wncviewhikes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/green-river-game-lands-trail-info.pdf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrows_of_the_Green