Limestone Cove Trail
Route into Unaka Mountain Wilderness Area. Hike in spring for wildflowers and fall for leaf color. May also be called the Rocky Branch Trail for the stream it follows uphill.
How to get there
From Johnson City, TN
- South on I-26 to Exit 32 for TN-173/Unicoi Road.
- Turn left under interstate and head 0.5 mile.
- Turn right at tee onto TN-173 for 0.7 mile.
- Turn left onto TN-107 and head out of town for 3.5 miles.
The picnic area is to the left, along North Indian Creek. A new trailhead is on the right at the former campground site.
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.
The trail is generally in good condition. Watch closely for the blue blazes as old logging road crossings could lead up a dead end.
Fees, Permits, etc.
No permit or fee. The picnic area is day use only. Being in the Unaka Mountain Wilderness Area, maximum group size is limited to 14 people and all dogs must be leashed or under physical control at all times.
After the Hike
The Forest Service webpage for the picnic area .