The Craggy Pinnacle Trail is a short out-and-back trail, entirely uphill going in and downhill coming out, that leads to a stunning 360-degree viewing platform. Of all the trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this offers one of the most exceptional views for the least amount of walking. The trail starts at the Craggy Dome Parking Area at Milepost 364 (just north of the tunnel that is in view from the Visitor Center). Hikers walk up stone stairs into a thick, gnarled forest of beech, birch, buckeye, and mountain ash. The surreal “twisted trees” are a result of severe weather conditions; high elevations bring strong winds, ice storms, and short growing seasons that dwarf and stunt the trees. Lichens cling to many trees, and moss and leafy ferns cover the forest floor. Heaths of blueberry bushes and wildflowers grow abundantly in places where the sun breaks through the trees.
The terrain is rocky and full of roots, and most of the hike is a tunnel-like experience through the forest. At several places along the trail, however, the trees open onto spectacular long range views. Most notable is one of the most famous views of the Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds through the Craggy Gardens area. Near the end of the trail, a spur trail forks to the right, leading to a lower overlook. The upper overlook, the summit of the trail, is a stone observation platform with spectacular 360-degree views.
The observaton platform is a popular place for sunrises and sunsets, especially in the summer. At nearly 6,000 feet, the temperature is often ten to fifteen degrees lower than nearby Asheville.
Many of the plants along this trail area rare or endangered, so please stay on the designated trail and off of the rocky outcrops.
Directions to the Craggy Pinnacle Trailhead
From Asheville, drive north on the Blue Ridge Parkway past the Folk Art Center, the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area and Visitor Center, and the Craggy Pinnacle Tunnel. Craggy Dome Overlook, where the trail begins, is on the left just past the tunnel.
Photos from the Craggy Pinnacle Trail
Click on any photo to open the Craggy Pinnacle Trail gallery as a slideshow.