Get ready to feast your eyes on 360 degrees of Western North Carolina goodness atop Craggy Pinnacle. bring an extra layer or two – it’s chilly at almost 6,000 feet.
It’s a quick hike to the top – for a total out-and-back of 1.4 miles. The journey will lead you through a tunnel of rhododendron, twisted trees and wild flowers and grasses.
Get ready: Craggy Gardens is an extremely popular natural area about 20 miles north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Depending on the season, it could take up to 45 minutes to get there. The visitor’s center is located at milepost 364.4 – stop in to learn more about the ecology of the Great Craggy Mountains. The trail head to Craggy Pinnacle is further up the parkway (only .3 miles). Drive through the tunnel and pull into the parking area directly on the left.
Get set: Find your parking spot and grab your gear. You really don’t need much, except for layers. You’ll probably already notice the chill in the air – temperatures are usually 10 to 20 degrees cooler at Craggy Gardens than in Asheville.
Go: Hop on the trail and quickly ascend about .7 miles to the dome at the top. Soak in views that span for miles, from 360 degrees. There are a handful of side trails to explore. Kids will appreciate discovering what lies at the end of each offshoot – just make sure to trail closely behind. The perches to take in the views are steep. Return the way you came.
Effort: The summit might be almost 6,000 feet above sea level, but you’ll only be hiking a 250 ish foot gain. Your car did all the hard work driving up the parkway! Bring the kids, the dogs, or older members of the family for a hiking treat that’s sure to impress.
Takeaways: Because of the ease, this hike is one of the most popular on the parkway around Asheville.
If it’s summertime or leaf peeping season, expect to be hiking with a crowd. Even during the tail end of fall, the visitor numbers hold steady.
The dome at the top will likely be filled with folks, but the myriad of side trails are good for getting a moment of solace.