The upper section of Trace Ridge north of the Spencer Gap Trail #600 intersection towards the parkway is a hiking-only trail.
This trail has a steep, short climb in the beginning up to the Trace Ridge Peak then an almost 1000-foot descent down to the Trace Ridge trailhead parking lot. It is mosly hard pack clay with loose rocks and large bolders mixed in. Lots of erosion on the trail creates a fun technical downhill some small drops. This one might not be as hard as other Pisgah descents, but it's still not for beginners.
The southern portion of the trail is a fun, fast descent with lots of optional technical trail features. About 0.5 miles from the parking area, you'll see the older lower trace ridge trail that has been officially closed. Follow the sign on the left to continue down the new redirected portion. Keep right at the intersection with the Wash Creek Trail. The remainder of the trail contains lots of natural and man-made features to have some extra fun on before terminating on the North Mills River Trail.