The Ranger staff will offer two public hikes each Tuesday and Thursday during the conference season. There will also be 3 Saturday Full Day trips. Hikes will leave at 9:00 AM (unless otherwise noted) from the Montreat Nature Center (828.669.9540), located just below the Lake Susan dam. The half-day hikes are designed to return in time for Clubs pick-up at noon; the full-day hikes will return mid to late afternoon. Wear sturdy, well-broken-in hiking shoes and bring water, snacks, and, for longer hikes, a lunch. All hikes are free and open to the public. In the event of inclement weather hikes may be altered, truncated, or cancelled. Please feel free to call the Nature Center during our regular hours (M–F; 8:30 AM–5:00 PM) to check on trail conditions or hike cancellations.

Before you hike on your own please come by the Nature Center or Montreat Store for trail maps and advice. 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. You must be 13 years of age or older to attend a hike without an adult guardian.

This year, there will also be three full-day hikes offered on Saturdays, departing at 9:00 AM from the Nature Center. See details below.

For more information about the Montreat Wilderness, click here.

In case of emergency call:

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

Pace Guidelines for half day hikes:

Leisurely: There is no time crunch for this hike.
Moderate: The hike can afford a few non-scheduled stops.
Fast: The hike must leave on time and hikers may need to walk briskly to get back on time.


Tues, June 11

Half Day – Rattlesnake Rock (Big Piney Trail)
Moderate hike with short strenuous sections | moderate pace

Bring plenty of water.

Full Day – Walker’s Knob
Moderate with short strenuous sections.

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.


Thursday, June 13

Half Day – Rainbow Road
Easy hike | Moderate pace

Full Day – Rocky Knob
Moderate hike | 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.

Saturday June 15

Full Day – East Ridge Ramble
Moderate with a few strenuous sections | 6 miles total | 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.


Tuesday, June 18

Half Day – Toll Road Tour
Easy hike | Moderate pace

Full Day – Hydroelectric Tour
Moderate with several very 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.


Thursday, June 20

Half Day – Walden’s Rock Out-and-Back
Moderate hike | Fast pace

Full Day – West Ridge
Strenuous and remote | strong hikers only | 11.1 miles total | 3000’ gain

After warming up on the Stomping Knob trail we’ll head north along the West Ridge all the way to Graybeard. After eating lunch we’ll return to Montreat via the Graybeard Trail. Long pants and stout boots are recommended in this wild country where poison ivy, bears, and rattlesnakes are not uncommon.


Tuesday, June 25

Half Day – NONE

Full Day – Mount Mitchell
Moderate hike; very long | 18 miles total | 4000’ gain

This is the longest day hike we offer during the season, and one not to be missed if you are up to the challenge! YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN TRANSPORTATION BACK FROM MT. MITCHELL. If you do not have a ride, you may be left behind. This hike requires reservations! Please contact the Nature Center staff as soon as possible to add your name to the list. All hikers will be expected to contribute to the gas fund for our drivers!

Hike is subject to change based on weather.

Please talk to the Ranger staff or one of the Nature Center volunteers for more details about this tough but very rewarding hike. The uphill route will definitely add Mount Mitchell to your “South Beyond 6,000” list.


Thursday, June 27

NO HIKES TODAY, RANGER WORK DAY

Tuesday July 2

Full Day – The Annual Perimeter Hike
Long and strenuous hike; some moderate sections | 16.0 miles total | expect to return after 5 PM

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.

A 4th of July week tradition. We’ll ascend Stomping Knob to the West Ridge, then up to Graybeard Mountain for lunch. Return along the East Ridge to Rainbow Mountain. A very challenging hike topping nearly every peak in the Montreat valley | this is a trip for strong hikers only. It often rains on this trip, be prepared.


Thursday July 4

NO HIKES TODAY

Saturday July 6

Full Day – Rocky Knob
Moderate hike | 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.


Tuesday, July 9

Half Day – Rattlesnake Rock (Big Piney Trail)
Moderate hike with short strenuous sections | moderate pace

Bring plenty of water.

Full Day – Walker’s Knob
Moderate hike with short strenuous sections

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.


Thursday, July 11

Half Day – Sanctuary Loop
Easy hike | Leisurely pace

Full Day – East Ridge Ramble
Moderate hike with a few strenuous sections | 6 miles total | 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.


Saturday, July 13

Full Day – Mount Mitchell
Moderate hike, but very long | 18 miles total | 4000’ gain

This is the longest day hike we offer during the season, and one not to be missed if you are up to the challenge! YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN TRANSPORTATION BACK FROM MT. MITCHELL. If you do not have a ride, you may be left behind. This hike requires reservations! Please contact the Nature Center staff as soon as possible to add your name to the list. All hikers will be expected to contribute to the gas fund for our drivers!

Hike is subject to change based on weather.

Please talk to the Ranger staff or one of the Nature Center volunteers for more details about this tough but very rewarding hike. The uphill route will definitely add Mount Mitchell to your “South Beyond 6,000” list.


Tuesday, July 16

Half Day – Brushy Mountain
Moderate hike with strenuous sections | Fast pace

Full Day – Graybeard Mountain
Moderate hike | 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.


Thursday, July 18

Half Day – Lookout Traverse Loop
Easy hike with Moderate Sections | Moderate pace

Lookout Trail to Trestle -> Trestle to Buck Gap -> Toll Road back to Lookout and down

Full Day – Two Sisters and a View
Strenuous hike | 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 for lunch at the aptly named Rattlesnake Rock, then continue our descent to Montreat via the Big Piney Trail.


Tuesday, July 23

Half-Day – Rainbow Mountain
Strenuous hike | Moderate Pace

Full Day – Walker’s Knob
Moderate hike with a few strenuous sections | 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.


Thursday, July 25

Half Day – Lower Piney
Easy hike | Leisurely pace

Full Day – Trestle Railroad Tour
Moderate hike | 8.8 miles total | 2000’ gain

This hike will trace the entire route of the Dickey and Campbell Railroad within the Montreat valley. Begun in late 1912 and completed just 364 days later (with the help of several hundred workers and 700 tons of dynamite) the 22-mile-long railroad supplied the sawmill in Black Mountain with logs from the virgin spruce/fir forests on the flanks of Mount Mitchell. Beautiful fitted stone walls, slag piles of “clinkers” from the steam engines, and the remains of several old bridges are just some of the historic details featured on this hike.


Tuesday, July 30

Half Day – Lookout Loop
Moderate hike | Moderate pace

Full Day – The “Top o’ the Valley” Hike
Strenuous hike with some 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.


Thursday, August 1

Half Day – NONE

Full Day – Pinnacle
Moderate hike with some 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.