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 montreatwilderness@gmail.com with questions, the Nature Center is closed this summer so calls will not be answered.

PLEASE NOTE

  • 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.

In case of emergency call:

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


Tuesday, June 15

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 17

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 19

Trail Club Work Day
Come help make Montreat’s Wilderness better for everyone. Please sign-up at the Nature Center (301 Lookout Rd.) ahead of time so we know how many people to expect.

Tuesday, June 22

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 24

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 24

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.

Thursday, July 1

NO HIKES TODAY, RANGER WORK DAY

Tuesday, July 6

Half Day – NONE

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 8

Half Day – Sanctuary Loop
Easy hike | Leisurely pace

Half Day – Lower Piney
Easy hike | Leisurely pace

Saturday, July 10

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 13

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 15

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.

Tuesday, July 20

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 22

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.

Saturday, July 24

This hike is tentative depending on weather.

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 27

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 29

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, August 3

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 5

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.