Top 20 NC Mountain Summit Hikes with Views

Top 20 NC Mountain Summit Hikes with Views

Be "on top of the world" with these mountaintop summit hikes in the western North Carolina mountains near Asheville with panoramic views of the mountains and valleys. Find hikes for all fitness levels, from easy to strenuous in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. The above photo is sunrise atop Craggy Pinnacle along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are some hiking tips:

  • Take a picnic, but leave no trace!
  • Watch the weather forecast for clear days for better views.
  • Since many of these hikes are a much higher elevation than most of our cities and towns, expect cooler temperatures. For instance, the top of Mt. Mitchell is often 15-20 degrees cooler than the city of Asheville.
  • Often, an early morning hike is the most awe inspiring with lifting fog and the rising sun. How about a breakfast picnic?!
  • Take water since all of these hikes are uphill. 
  • Wear sunscreen since you'll want to spend some time up top to soak in the views.
  • See our Waterfall & Hiking Safety Tips before you hit the trail.

Best Mountaintop Hikes near Asheville

Black Balsam Knob
Black Balsam Knob
(1-10 miles, moderate) For sweeping 360-degree views, hike across these bald mountaintops. Almost entirely devoid of trees above 6,000 ft., the summit is more reminiscent of New England than North Carolina. Black Balsam Knob is part of the 30-mile Art Loeb Trail, so you can hike as far as you want. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 420.
Roan Mountain Hike
Roan Mountain Appalachian Trail
(1 to 7 miles, moderate hike) Famous for its spectacular natural gardens of Catawba rhododendrons, Roan Mountain shelters a rich diversity of life, from spruce-fir forests to vast grassy balds. It is not one mountain, but a high ridge about five miles long, the highest point being 6,286 ft. Hike the ridge on the Appalachian Trail for sweeping views all along the way.
Craggy Pinnacle Hike
Craggy Pinnacle
(1.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) For our favorite 360-degree mountain view along the Blue Ridge Parkway, hike to the top of this 5,892-ft. peak at Craggy Gardens. Trailhead at Milepost 364.1.
Looking Glass Rock
Looking Glass Rock
(6.5 miles roundtrip, strenuous) For 180+ degree views from a rock face, hike to the top of this iconic summit in the Pisgah National Forest. You'll hike the "backside" of the mountain, gaining 1,700 feet in elevation and a gradual climb almost the entire way.
Devil's Courthouse
Devil's Courthouse
(1 mile round-trip, moderate) This short-but-steep trail climbs a half-mile to the peak for spectacular views. The bare rock profile named Devil's Courthouse is sinister in appearance and legend. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 422.
Hawksbill Mountain
Hawksbill Mountain
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Enjoy spectacular mountaintop views overlooking Linville Gorge. We love to hike this and nearby Table Rock on the same day! Take a picnic.
Rough Ridge
Rough Ridge
(1.5 to 8 miles round-trip, moderate to strenuous) This unique hike offers plenty of breathtaking viewpoints and a wooden boardwalk over fragile vegetation. The Tanawha Trail features many rock outcrops to enjoy sweeping mountain panoramas. Turn around at any time or continue the trail to Beacon Heights (4 miles). Milepost 302.8.
Max Patch on Appalachian Trail
Max Patch on Appalachian Trail
(1.4 or 2.4 miles, easy) Hike a section of the famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail (or AT) near Hot Springs. What a picnic spot, with 360-degree mountain views! The 1.4-mile short loop crosses the summit. The 2.4-mile loop circles the mountain for outstanding views from all the sides. Or extend your hike in either direction of the AT.
Whiteside Mountain
Whiteside Mountain
(2-mile loop hike, moderate) A landmark in the Nantahala National Forest, located between Cashiers and Highlands, Whiteside rises to an elevation of 4,930 ft.. A loop trail takes you to the top of sheer 750-ft. high cliffs (plenty of railings for safety) with outstanding views.
DuPont Forest Cedar Rock Mountain
Cedar Rock Mountain, DuPont Forest
(4.5 miles loop, moderate) This hike provides wonderful views and dramatic scenery - and it's not difficult. Rising only a few hundred feet above the surrounding plateau, walk across areas of granite with great views.
John Rock
John Rock
(5 miles loop, strenuous) Just a mile from the trailhead to Looking Glass Rock is a rewarding loop trail that takes you to the top of another rock face with panoramic views. From John Rock, you have a great view of Looking Glass Rock. And you'll find many fewer hikers here.
Chimney Rock Park
Chimney Rock Park Hikes
(1 to 4 miles, easy to strenuous) Hike a variety of trails with spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge or a 400-foot waterfall. Often overlooked, the challenging Four Seasons Trail begins near the Meadows and takes you through a beautiful deciduous forest and boulder fields.
Shortoff Mountain
Shortoff Mountain
(4.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) Located near Lake James, a beauty of a hike to the top of a plateau summit with spectacular views of Linville Gorge.
Andrews Bald
Andrews Bald
(4 miles round-trip, moderate) At an elevation of 5,920 ft., this is the highest grassy bald in the Great Smoky Mountains. The hike near Clingmans Dome is not overly strenuous but includes a good bit of uphill and rocky sections. And you won't see the crowds that you find on other hikes in the Smokies.
The Pinnacle, Sylva
The Pinnacle
(7 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the top of The Pinnacle for views looking down into Sylva and the surrounding valley. Climb 1,800 ft. in elevation with a steady grade.
Huckleberry Knob, NC
Huckleberry Knob
(2.5 miles roundtrip, easy) Located along the very scenic Cherohala Skyway, this 5,560-foot bald summit has 360-degree views of the Nantahala National Forest. Near Robbinsville.
Table Rock Mountain
Table Rock Mountain
(2.2 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike to the top of one of the most recognized peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This trailhead is just five miles from Hawksbill, so you can double your fun.
Mt. LeConte & Alum Cave
Mt. LeConte & Alum Cave
(11 miles round-trip, strenuous) The Alum Cave Trail is the most-hiked in the Great Smoky Mountains. You'll see why, with interesting geological features and stunning views. To reach the 6,593-ft. summit of Mount LeConte (third highest peak in the Smokies), you'll climb 2,853 ft. in elevation in 5.5 miles.
Bearwallow Mountain
Bearwallow Mountain
(1 mile roundtrip, moderate) Near Chimney Rock, hike to the summit of this bald mountain with wonderful views. It's an easy drive from downtown Asheville!
Beech Mountain
Beech Mountain Hikes
(1 to 20 miles, easy to strenuous) The Town of Beech Mountain, the highest town in eastern America, has 20 miles of maintained trails atop their mountain. A great place to keep cool since their summer temperatures seldom go above 75 degrees!

Mt Mitchell

Highest Mountain in Eastern USA: Mt. Mitchell
Since you can drive almost to the top of highest summit east of the Mississippi, it's just a short walk (but uphill) on a paved trail to the observation deck. Mt. Mitchell State Park (free admission and located off the Parkway) is a must-see for anyone looking for elevation! The Deep Gap Trail starts from the summit parking lot and takes you to Mt. Craig, the second highest peak in the eastern USA. It has great views from it's summit also. Read more about Deep Gap Trail.

More Suggestions for Views
The many overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway offers panoramic mountain views roadside. So it's a great alternative for those that cannot hike or if you have small children. See our Blue Ridge Parkway guide

More Hikes: See our Top 75 Hikes Near Asheville

Google Map of These Hikes

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