October 2014 Update: The U.S. Forest Service will close the Table Rock Picnic Area and trailhead parking lot Oct. 20 through Dec. 1, 2014 for repairs. The Forest Service will also close the paved, upper section of Forest Service Road 99, which leads to the picnic area, for repairs. Foot and bicycle traffic will be permitted in the area while repairs are made.
Table Rock Mountain's distinctive summit above Linville Gorge can be seen easily from many parts of the North Carolina mountains and foothills. The rocky summit is fun (and easy) to explore. The 2.2-mile roundtrip has some steep climbs, so it's a bit strenuous. The views of Linville Gorge are spectacular from the 3,930 foot peak. It's open April-December (the road is closed January-March).
The trailhead to the summit hike is located 9.5 miles from Highway 181 in Burke County - including eight miles on a one-lane unpaved Pisgah National Forest Service road (but manageable with about any car). You will pass the trailhead to Hawksbill Mountain about five miles before you reach Table Rock. Table Rock has a large parking area, pit toilets, and a large "Table Rock" bulletin board marks the trailhead.
There are a few forks in the trail. About 1/2 mile up, keep to the right where a side trail leads downhill on your left. When you reach the top, cut through a narrow, overgrown trail to the left to get to a huge boulder that overlooks Hawksbill Mountain and Linville Gorge. Return toward the main trail and continue forward to walk along the top of Table Rock for many impressive vistas. There are many spots for a picnic with breathtaking views "on the edge."
Table Rock is very popular for rock climbing. It is often described as having a "national reputation of being the best place to climb in the Southeastern USA. Table Rock is also known for its flora. Botanists André Michaux and John Fraser found various plants in the area in the nineteenth century. Fraser discovered Fraser's Sedge near the mountain.
You can hike nearby Hawksbill Mountain the same day. For a different view of Linville Gorge, hike nearby Shortoff Mountain.