“Pisgah-style climbing and descending, includes steep switchbacks and technical climbing.”
— Michael Granata
The second section of the ONRT starts past Cedar Branch near County Road 221. It continues west, heading parallel to State Hwy 1, passing the Horsethief Springs Trail at mile 18.7 and then a spur trail to the Horsethief Springs at mile 19.9.
At mile 23.7, the trail crosses Talimena Scenic Drive at the Winding Stair Trailhead and begins a steep climb up Winding Stair Mountain toward Rough Mountain.
The trail feels harder than it looks on the map but there is an amazing view of the mountains before you drop in. Once at the top of the ridge, all your hard work will be rewarded with some amazing, flowing, rocky descents as you make your way down toward 259.
Along the way, be prepared for the 20 switchbacks (which you can see on the map above) that are old hiking trails which are very tight. Cutting the line on the inside of some of them is the move. After the descent, there will be one more short technical climb. This one finishes with a fast section that ends at Highway 259.
There is a rock slide section that is about 50 meters long. It's rideable and you'll know it when you see it. Towards the end of the trail you have to cross a stream that isn't rideable but can be walked over by stepping on rocks. You're very close to the trailhead when you cross this stream.
Beware this route will require a 45-minute road climb back to your car up Hwy 259 and Route 1. Ideally ride this trail as a shuttle ride.