Beacon Heights is a short one-mile roundtrip hike at Milepost 305.2 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina with a big pay-off with spectacular views from several rock platforms to explore safely. It's a best kept secret for sure since most Parkway visitors do not know about it.
The trailhead at this parking area crosses a small road and then heads up the mountain to Beacon Heights. About 2/10 mile up the trail, it forks to the left as the Tanawha Trail (download PDF of Tanawha Trail Map) and represents the start point of this 13-mile trail to the Linn Cove Viaduct and beyond (four miles to Rough Ridge). (This is the Mountains-to-Sea Trail also.) Turn right to reach the top of Beacon Heights. Near the summit, the trail splits again. To the right, the trail leads you to the south-facing rock face with plenty of room to sit on the smooth rock face and enjoy the beautiful views of multiple mountain ranges (see photo above). To the left, the trail climbs a bit to another rock dome with great views of Grandfather Mountain to the west and more peaks to the north and east (see photos below). Elevation at the top is around 4,340 feet. What a great spot for a picnic!
Nearby are great hikes at the Linn Cove Viaduct, Chestoa View, and Rough Ridge.