Make the trek up the Craggy Pinnacle Hike at Craggy Gardens and witness the splendor of scenes from North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains atop Craggy Pinnacle. This 1.5-mile-long round-trip trail takes you to the top of Craggy Pinnacle, at an elevation of about 5,900 feet. Located about 24 miles from Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Craggy Gardens stays busy and is a good choice for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. Your canine companion can join you, too: Dogs are welcome as long as they’re leashed.
If you’re planning a trip to Craggy Gardens, time your visit for the period from March to October. Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Craggy Gardens area section of the parkway can experience fast-changing treacherous winter weather, and this section of the parkway closes during the winter months. If the weather seems questionable during your visit, call 828-298-0398 to confirm the status of the roads.
The summer travel months offer some of the best views. Home to one of the most beautiful floral displays you’ll ever see, Craggy Gardens in the second half of June is something to behold. The Catawba rhododendron blooms are alive in all their pink and purple glory. The flowers draw bees and butterflies, turning the area into something like a fairy garden. You won’t find many large trees, but mostly smaller shrubbery and blooms with wild berries in season. Photography buffs can get some outstanding shots here.
To reach Craggy Pinnacle, drive north from the Craggy Gardens visitor center through a tunnel and park in the designated parking area. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the parking lot, marked by a canopy of plants that offer a welcome shade during hot weather. As you continue on, the trail goes up gradually until you reach a curve and an uplifted rock. Take a few minutes to enjoy the view before you continue the climb. An even more stunning vista awaits when you reach a fork near a flat area with more amazing views.
As you circle back, watch for a sign that points you left to the upper lookout and right to the lower lookout. From the lower side, you can see the visitor center and the mountains in the distance. For a better view, follow the upper lookout to the rock wall with stairs. That path opens out onto Craggy Pinnacle with an amazing 360-degree view encircled by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Asheville watershed lake, and other natural beauty.
Along the way, smaller side trails invite you to explore and make memories. If you’re hiking with children, you’ll discover a great opportunity to introduce them to the natural world. The walk down is easier than the climb up, so you can relax and enjoy the greenery around you as you head back to the parking area.
The unique environment of the area is known as a “high-elevation heath bald,” a peak covered by plants such as grasses and bushes in an area where you normally expect thick forest-type growth.
Finding a hike that the family can do together is challenging. The hike is gentle enough for most children but still interesting enough for teens and adults. You’ll find that satisfying experience with the Craggy Pinnacle Hike at Craggy Gardens.
- Go early in the morning and catch the sunrise at the top. If you’re allergic to bee stings, take your emergency kit. When the rhododendrons are in bloom, the bees are plentiful.