Mount Pisgah Summit

Mt. Pisgah: A Strenuous & Stunning Trail
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

If you're after stellar views, springtime flowers, and a challenging hike, it doesn't get much better than this 2.2-mile route up Mt. Pisgah. While it starts on flat terrain, the hike is strenuous to challenging in its ascent. For this reason, Mt. Pisgah is recommended for experienced hikers only.

- The Local Expert Team

At 5,721 feet, Mount Pisgah is clearly visible from downtown Asheville. The transmission tower on top is one of the city’s most iconic sights. A 2.2-mile round trip hike up Mt. Pisgah brings you through pockets of mountain laurel, rhododendron, and rosebay up close to the transmission tower, where you’ll enjoy 360 degree views. You’ll gain 750 feet on this hike, which is one of the more popular routes near Asheville.

Buck Spring Tunnel
The trail starts just below 5,000 feet, on Little Pisgah Mountain. From the starting point, which is behind the Mt. Pisgah information board in the Pisgah National Forest, the flat trail passes though thickets of rosebay, mountain laurel, and Catawba rhododendron. From spring to summer, the shrubs are bursting with colorful blooms, so we recommend visiting during this time to appreciate the flowers. You’ll cross over the Blue Ridge Parkway at Buck Spring Tunnel. This initial part of the hike is fairly flat, although the trail is rocky. If you’re looking for an easy day hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you might complete this initial part of the Mt. Pisgah hike, then turn back before the sharp ascent.

Rocky Staircase
Shortly after you cross over the Buck Spring Tunnel, Little Pisgah Mountains meets Mount Pisgah. Here, you’ll begin a 521-foot ascent to the observation towel, proceeding along several switchbacks as you progress uphill. You’ll be climbing up a rocky staircase through forests of hardwood and mountain laurel. Some of the hardwoods you’ll see include oaks, maples, beeches, birches, and spruce. The part of the trail features several log steps as well. At the 1.1. mile marker, just before the trail veers to the right, you’ll be able to spot the tower on Frying Pan Mountain.

Transmission Tower for WLOS-TV (Channel 13)
The climb ends at the transmission tower, which features an observation platform. Rest at the base of the transmission tower or climb up to the observation platform to look out. If you visit on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the transmission tower to the north, downtown Asheville and the Craggy Mountains to the northeast, Cold Mountain and the Shining Rock Wilderness to the west, and Looking Glass Rock, the Pisgah Inn and Frying Pan Mountain to the southwest.

Once you’re finished taking in the stunning views, it’s time to turn back. Since this is an out and back trail, start down the steps you just climbed to return to the parking lot.

The Mt. Pisgah trail connects to several other trails in the Pisgah National Forest region. If you’re looking to add mileage, several good options include the Buck Spring Trail, the Pilot Rock Trail, the Laurel Mountain Trail, and the Little Pisgah Ridge Trail. For longer treks, both the Shut-in and Mountains-to-Sea trails are good options.

Insider Tips:
-Due to the sharp ascent in the latter half, Mt. Pisgah is a strenuous hike. Leave yourself plenty of time to ascend and come back down, and take ample water and snacks for everyone in your group.
-The hike is popular, which can mean crowds during peak season (spring and summer due to flowers). Start your hike early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and secure a parking spot.
-Go at sunset to get stellar views.
-Some sections of the trail can be wet or muddy.