Day Hike 14: Doughton Park Tent Campground to Devils Garden Overlook

Goodbye, Mountains

Distance: 5.6 miles

  • Difficulty: Moderate. Flat at first, then some up-and-down.
  • Camping: Doughton Park Campground (seasonal).
  • Land manager: National Park Service.
  • Volunteer Task Force Leader: Steven Joines,
  • Piggyback trail: Bluff Mountain.
  • Connecting trails: Cedar Ridge.

The Brinegar Cabin, a reminder of pre-Blue Ridge Parkway times.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail leaves the high country with a flourish, taking in more of Doughton Park before dropping down the Blue Ridge escarpment into Stone Mountain State Park for its journey east across the Piedmont and coastal plain.

The section begins with one last mile of meadow hiking before ducking into a healthy hemlock forest, then emerging at the Brinegar Cabin, which is worth a stop. Martin and Caroline Brinegar made their home here from around 1880 until 1930. They farmed 125 acres (purchased for $200), Martin also made shoes (which took two weeks to make and he sold for $1), Caroline also made clothes. It’s hard not to look at the idyllic setting and think paradise; it’s hard not to read the educational kiosks and think hardscrabble existence. Martin died of pneumonia after getting caught in a storm walking home from church; Caroline stayed on after the Parkway was built, but she didn’t stay long. The new road was too noisy.

The trail spends much of its remaining time in a fitting farewell to the Blue Ridge, tracing a ridge line, climbing into mature forest, dropping into lush coves. Devils Garden Overlook offers a scenic spot for saying goodbye.

View on Map

To see this hike on a map, visit our Interactive Map and click “Day Hikes” to view the endpoints.


Finding Your Way

Finding Your Way (west » east) Mileage
Trailhead: From Doughton Park tent campground, follow signs for “Brinegar Cabin” as trail parallels the campground’s paved road. 0.0
Trail makes a right turn into the woods, away from paved campground road, then comes back to paved road later. Continue following signs to Brinegar Cabin. When trail comes out of woods, turn right toward BRP. 0.9
Cross to east side of BRP (follow BMT signs). The trail goes 200 feet to a paved walkway. Follow white dots on pavement; you are in Doughton Park’s RV campground area. Pass information sign on left. Go into woods at north end of campground. Still follow BMT and Brinegar Cabin signs. 1.1
Trail goes through meadows paralleling BRP before going back into woods. 1.4
Cedar Ridge Trail goes straight; BMT/MST goes left. Sign directs you to Brinegar Cabin. There is a Doughton Park trail information sign at this turn. 2.3
Descend out of woods to parking lot for Brinegar Cabin (MP 238.5). BMT stops here. Cabin often has live craft demonstrations in summer. Follow paved path that runs to left of cabin. At information sign labeled “A Mountain Home,” turn left heading downhill where you will see a sign for MST going into the woods. 2.5
Trail goes through several ascents and descents but none more than 200 yards long. You’ll see several concrete USDI/NPS markers as trail travels along park-service boundary with Thurmond Chatham Game Land. 2.7
Come out of woods and walk on shoulder of BRP as it crosses Air Bellows Gap (3,729 feet, crest of the Blue Ridge). Pass a ramp to Air Bellows Gap Rd. on right. (There is limited shoulder parking on that road.) Continue 50 feet uphill, going back into woods. 3.9
Trail goes through woods. Trail descends out of woods and crosses BRP diagonally to reach west (left) side. 4.1
Trail descends and ascends, paralleling BRP. You cross a small creek with BRP high above to right. Pass large rock field and see BRP stonework. MST descends to BRP. 4.5
Trailhead: Devils Garden Overlook (MP 235.7). 5.6