This is shorter, all-trail version of the annual Fourth of July Browntown Loop. Instead of descending into Browntown, this run stays on the crest of the Blue Ridge on the Appalachian Trail.
From the trailhead, take the Jordan River Trail 1.25 miles to Thoroughfare Gap. Take a right onto yellow-blazed Mount Marshall Trail and after 0.4 miles, take a sharp left onto the yellow-blazed Bluff Trail. In 2.3 miles, take the blue-blazed Big Devils Stairs Trail for a short out-and-back to a view of the Big Devils Stairs gorge. Return to the Bluff Trail to continue the climb, topping out on Skyline Drive at Gravel Springs (mile 7.0).
Cross the drive and take a right (heading north) on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT). Follow the AT for 5.5 miles, climbing South Marshall and North Marshall mountains, to Jenkins Gap.
At Jenkins Gap, turn right and follow Skyline Drive uphill for 0.2 miles to the Mount Marshall trailhead. Turn left down the yellow-blazed Mount Marshall Trail as it winds around the mountain, crossing Waterfall Branch and Sprucepine Branch, before arriving at the intersection of the Bluff Trail in 3.5 miles. Continue straight on the Mount Marshall Trail for another 0.4 miles to Thoroughfare Gap and intersection with the Jordan River Trail. Take a left on the Jordan River Trail for 1.25 miles back to your car.