GPS Coordinates: (Latitude, Longitude, Elevation)
Parking: 35.84146 -92.98413
Trail Head on NC5080: 35.84189 -92.98472
Sandstone Castles: 35.81647 -92.97268
Rock Wall #1: 35.82520 -92.98599
Rock Wall #2: 35.82412 -92.98407
Old Homesite #1: 35.82303 -92.98264
Rock Wall #3: 35.82039 -92.97832
Rock Wall #4: 35.81955 -92.97672
Old Homesite #2: 35.819701 -92.97643
Pet-friendly: Yes! Be aware there are a number of trees down on the trail and other obstacles that might challenge a smaller dog on a leash. Also, unlike most of my hikes, there is no water available. Make sure you pack water for your dog as well.
Motorcycle friendly: No. Getting to the parking area takes you about seven miles on rough, gravel, forest service roads. It's doable, but you'll be sorry if you take a cruiser or street bike on these roads.
Hiking Statistics: From top to bottom, The Richland Wilderness Area is over 1200 feet of elevation change. Today we hiked approximately five miles, with a "highest to lowest" elevation change of only 262 feet. There are a few ups and downs, but the hiking is mostly on the level. While technically a bushwhack because no trail maintenance is allowed in wilderness areas, there is a fairly distinct volunteer trail that follows an old trace road. This makes for easier hiking so I would rate this a moderately easy hike. Note that in "leaves on" season, the trail will be mostly overgrown.
Richland Wilderness Area Waypoints
GPS track file, trailhead to Sandstone Castles (.gpx format)
Links to blog posts for other nearby areas:
Devon Falls, Hamilton Falls, Twin Falls, and Richland Falls
The same, plus Long Devil's (Jim Bob), Mystic, and Big Devil's Bluff Falls
Wind River Hollow
The Sandstone Castles are actually a series of caves cut into the rock of the
The trailhead GPS coordinates are listed above. Years ago, there was a blue smiley face painted on a tree at this point on the south side of the road. Now, I can't find that smiley face anywhere and think that tree was cut down. At any rate, If you climb the embankment across the road from the parking area, you will see there is an old trace road that goes uphill. Turn RIGHT onto it from the road. i.e. - you will be heading south-west, at first almost paralleling the NC5080 road you just drove in on. As mentioned before, this trail is now clearly visible. The trail will head up the mountain on this trace road. There are a fair amount of fallen trees on this first part of the trail, but don't let that discourage you. As you climb the trace road it will crest the ridgeline, and just over the ridgeline, you will make a sharp turn to the left. The trail here is more discernible and easier to follow, with fewer detours around fallen trees. Someone has put a sign here to direct you from the ridgeline back to the road on your way back.
You pass some rock walls, a couple of homesites, and an old well along the way. The first of these is about at the halfway point and is actually off the trail to the right a few yards. These are a good check that you are on the right path. I included GPS coordinates for these waypoints so you can track your route. This is where hiking with Jeff and Chuck was somewhat different than my normal hikes, in that we had to wait for Jeff to get set up to take some video footage for the show, record the footage, then move on. They have clearly done this a bazillion times, so it goes smoothly and quickly and doesn't really hold us up at all.
|Old Homesite #2|
|Jeff, Chuck, and Rick (L-R)|
|Sandstone Castle GPS Track|
|Richland Wilderness Area|