The Foothills trail at Oak Mountain is the longest trail in the park. It starts and ends at the South and North trailheads. Instead of hiking the trail in its entirety, we decided to break it up and hike smaller sections. This hike details the Foothills trail from Camp Road to Maggie Valley.
Parking is available in the gravel entrance to Camp Road accessible from the main drive. The gate at Camp Road is typically locked. Following Camp Road a short distance, the Foothills trail crosses and take a slight curve as it winds uphill. Following the ridge for a distance, the trail is transverses a piney region before turning downhill and intersecting with the Garrett’s Gulch trail. The Foothills trail continues straight across a wooden bridge and along the a narrow, rocky path which follows the side of the ridge. Passing a marsh on the left and a thickly forested area, the trail crosses a wooden bridge before winding its way into the BMX track area.
Following through this area, you will come upon the Old Lake dam, constructed by the CCC during the building of the park. As you wind your way around the perimeter of the lake, you will see the rental cabins across the water and the original CCC cabins on the hillside. Many of the original CCC cabins have been renovated by Boy Scout troops who use the area for camping. At the back side of the lake, the trail splits with one part turning back towards the cabins and the other towards Maggie Valley. Trekking towards Maggie Valley you will follow along the feeder creek for Old Lake before turning up into the forest and passing one of the many backwoods camping spots. The trail gets steeper at this point as it rises to the crest of the ridge before making its final descent into Maggie Valley.
Overall this hike offers excellent scenery along the lake portion as well as bird and other wildlife in the heavier forested areas. Breaking the Foothills trail into 3 sections allowed us to enjoy a slower hike and take time out to observe the aerial wildlife. Defiantly a great hike at Oak Mountain.