The Ranger staff will offer limited public hikes this summer. Hikes will leave at 9 AM (unless otherwise noted) from the Montreat Nature Center (828-669-9540), located just below the Lake Susan dam. There will not be a half day/full day option this year. Some of our hikes will be shorter and some longer. Wear sturdy, well-broken-in hiking shoes and bring water, snacks, and, for longer hikes, a lunch.

In the event of inclement weather or changing pandemic conditions, hikes may be altered, truncated, or cancelled. Please feel free to email Jason at with questions, the Nature Center is closed this summer so calls will not be answered.


  • There are no hikes to Mt. Mitchell this summer.
  • You will receive special instructions on social distancing when you arrive to hike.
  • No unaccompanied minors may come on hikes this year.

Before you hike on your own, please acquire a trail map which are free on our website. Remember to always file a “flight plan” with someone who is not hiking with you and follow it. Always bring food and water and wear appropriate clothing.

For more information about the Montreat Wilderness, click here.

In case of emergency call:

Emergency Services: 911
Montreat Nature Center: (828-669-9540)

Tuesday, June 30

East Ridge Ramble
Moderate hike with a few sections | 6 miles | 1700′ gain

From the Nature Center we’ll ascend the Lookout Trail and then travel along the East Ridge all the way to Long Gap. In the process, we’ll cross Lookout, Boggs’ Bunion, Brushy, and Rocky Head. We will take the Trestle to Potts Cove gap, and then return to Montreat via the Graybeard Trail.

Thursday, July 2

Walker’s Knob
Moderate | 10.3 miles total | 2500′ gain

We’ll ascend via the Graybeard Trail to Walker’s Knob which offers a superlative view of Montreat and Black Mountain. After lunch, we’ll return via the same route.

A packed lunch is recommended.

Thursday, July 9 OR Friday, July 10

Bear Ridge Romp
Moderate with strenuous section | ~5 miles total | 1155′ gain

This hike is tentative due to unknowns involving staff training.

We will ascend Lookout Mountain, enjoy the view to the west, then continue north along the East Ridge Trail summiting Brushy Mountain for a view to the east. We will return via Appalachian way.

Tuesday, July 14

Annual Perimeter Hike
Long and stenuous hike | 16.0 miles total | 2900’ gain

This is a trip for strong hikers only. Bring plenty of water, snacks, lunch, and rain gear. Rangers will carry water filters, but no water source is available on the first half of the hike.

We’ll ascend Stomping Knob to the West Ridge, then up to Graybeard Mountain for lunch. Return along the East Ridge to Rainbow Mountain. This is a very challenging hike topping nearly every peak in the Montreat valley.

Thursday, July 16

Rattlesnake Rock (Big Piney Trail)
Moderate with strenuous sections | ~4 miles total | 1400′ gain

We will ascend Big Piney Ridge to the aptly named Rattlesnake Rock and then return the same way.

Tuesday, July 21

Rocky Knob
Moderate | 13.1 miles total | 2900′ gain

Rocky Knob was purchased by the Montreat Cottagers Association to protect this precious resource from possible future development. It is a wild and remote destination, and this hike has always been a Ranger favorite. We’ll ascend the Graybeard Trail and then pop over to the Mitchell Toll Road just above Dickey’s Loop. We’ll walk the Toll Road north to Rocky Knob, eat lunch at the knob, and then take a long rest and enjoy the excellent views of the North Fork watershed before returning to Montreat.

A packed lunch is recommended.

Thursday, July 23

Graybeard Mountain
Moderate | 11.9 miles total | 3000′ gain

We’ll take the Graybeard Trail to the Walker’s Knob hiking shelter. After a snack and a quick side trip to enjoy the view from Walker’s Knob we’ll continue climbing the Graybeard Trail to the top of Graybeard Mountain, the highest point in Montreat. Excellent views (north toward Mount Mitchell) and wild country make this a truly memorable hike. After lunch at the summit we’ll backtrack to Montreat.

A packed lunch is recommended.

Tuesday, July 28

Two Sisters and a View
Strenuous | 4.2 miles total | 2000′ gain

We will ascend Stomping Knob trail, stopping to see the old moonshine stills. Turning north on the West Ridge, we will proceed to the top of Big Piney. We will stop at the aptly named Rattlesnake Rock, then continue our descent to Montreat via the Big Piney Trail.

Thursday, July 30

Hydroelectric Tour
Moderate with several steep sections | 4.8 miles total | 1800′ gain

We will ascend Graybeard Trail to the site of the old Montreat reservoir which provided water for the hydroelectric plant which served Montreat until the early 1930’s. We’ll continue on to Potts Cove, then head south along the Trestle Road to Long Gap, where we will take the East Ridge Trail south to the summit of Rocky Head. We will descend on the Rocky Head trail, passing the old holding ponds, descend to the Montreat Campgrounds, then back to the Nature Center.

A packed lunch is recommended.

Tuesday, August 4

“Top o’ the Valley” Hike
Strenuous with moderate sections | 9.3 miles total | 3000’ gain

From the Nature Center we’ll walk up to the family campground and then up the Rocky Head Trail to the top of Rocky Head. After a quick rest we’ll head North to Potts Cove Gap, follow the Trestle switchbacks to Walker’s Knob, and then on to the top of Graybeard. After lunch, we’ll travel down the West Ridge to Big Piney and then return to Montreat on the Big Piney Ridge Trail.

A packed lunch is recommended.

Thursday, August 6

Moderate with strenuous sections | 16.4 miles total | 3300’ gain

The second-longest hike of the summer takes us to Pinnacle Mountain, just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway near the entrance to Mount Mitchell State Park. We’ll take the Graybeard Trail to the foot of Graybeard Mountain, walk along the Mitchell Toll Road all the way to the Parkway, and then double back along the ridge line to Pinnacle. We’ll have a leisurely lunch at the top with plenty of time to take in the excellent view (and a nap), and then return via the Toll Road to Buck Gap, Lookout Trail and home.

Be sure to bring rain gear and plenty of water. A packed lunch is recommended.