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Trail of the Month: Grassy Creek Trails ‘Special Edition’

Forest Bathing loop with the New Dam Mural & Wells Chappell Spur

Dam Mural Elkin, NC
Dam Mural Elkin, NC

Trailhead: 235 Chatham Cottage Ln., State Road, NC 28676 (Beside Grassy Creek

Vineyards Tasting Room)

Length: Varies from 1 mile (Wells Chappell Spur out-and-back) to 1.5 miles

(Forest Bathing loop + Spur trail)

Difficulty Level: Easy, Moderate in a few short sections

An outdoor setting is a leading criterion for many Elkin spots, and Grassy Creek Vineyards and Winery is a leading example as one of those spots. Just a few steps from the tasting room at Grassy Creek, you’ll find the trailhead for the state’s first official forest bathing trail (featured in last February’s Trails Blog) connecting to a greater network of trails. As of April 2024, the brand new Dam Mural was completed by Charlotte-based artist, Eva Crawford, and revealed at a ceremony by the Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA). Hikers are encouraged to check out this amazing edition to the trail along with a less-frequented cascade loop with a deep-in-the forest feel.

Trail Sign Elkin, NC

What to Expect:

Whether you’re looking to disconnect from the screen during the week, or intent on some exercise before (or in-between) a wine-down at the vineyard, the Forest Bathing Trail is a great suggestion for anyone. One could argue that the trail is green year round, however in late spring the trail lives up to its name with rhododendron and mountain laurel blooming in profusion, and ferns at the height of the season. Birdsongs playing throughout the canopy, and upon close inspection of the underbrush, box turtles can be seen sauntering about. Following the general path of the Forest Bathing trail, signage now includes markers for the Dam Mural that covers the dam below Klondike Lake which feeds lower Grassy Creek. Out-and-back, this segment of trail is barely a mile, but showcases some amazing artwork that characterizes scenes from our foothills region. Look closely from the observation point and see if you spot any wildlife (is that deer real?!). Choosing to continue along the loop will take you through a steady incline into more pine-dominated forest with glimpses of Klondike Lake. Turning around and tracking back to the first junction of the trail at the ‘Wells Chappell Spur’ sign (you will see it on the return veering right) will take you to the lower Grassy Creek Cascade loop, a short half-mile detour that reveals one of the trail network’s most tranquil spots. All of this can be done and thoroughly enjoyed within 30-45 minutes, but then again, why keep time here?

Waterfall Elkin, NC


Spring and summer can give this section of trail a true rainforest look that practically excludes all the surrounding hustle and bustle (not that there’s a ton of that anyway). With that, it is important to remember that the naturalized surface of the trail tends to stay saturated for prolonged periods of time, meaning that sturdy footwear with good tread is recommended. The Cascade loop involves scrambling down a short wooden ladder, so use caution when stepping down. Given the ample shade, sunscreen isn’t necessary on this trail either. As recommended in the February blog, tune out of the technology where you can, and immerse yourself in the woods, channeling your tailormade practice of the Japanese custom of ‘Shinrin-yoku’. With this stretch of trail, you can begin with a sensual awakening, observe an artistic edition inspired by the natural world, and discover a wild little cascade along a primitive trail. 

Our Notes:

Foot traffic only

Dogs are welcome

Not stroller accessible

Watch your step 

Consult less of the screen and more of the green (all around you)

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