Devil’s Courthouse Trail: Blue Ridge Parkway hiking near Asheville
Hike the Devil's Courthouse Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway to stunning mountaintop views from this jagged, rocky, towering mountain with sinister-looking features.
While the hike is short (under a half mile each way) and mostly paved, it’s a challenging one, with an unrelenting climb to the top. But the views from the summit are well-worth the journey: sweeping panoramas stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions, offering views of the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina, as well as views into South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. And the trek to the top is fairly spectacular, too: the trail dives through a shady, mossy, sweet-smelling forest of black balsam and rare, high altitude plants. At just under a mile, roundtrip, the Devil’s Courthouse Trail packs a whole lot of take-your-breath-away views and spectacular forest beauty in a relatively short hike.
Devil’s Courthouse Trail: the hike
The hike departs from the Devil’s Courthouse overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville, at MP 422 (view maps and driving directions). The hike catches views of the mountain’s jagged face between stately black balsam trees as the trail follows the Parkway westbound. Just before the Devil’s Courthouse tunnel, the paved trail veers to the south, diving into the shady forest and beginning its climb.
Devil’s Courthouse, legend holds, is where a devil holds court in a cave deep within the mountain – and is also thought to be named for the summit’s face-like profile with malevolent-looking features. Regardless of legend, the mountain’s landscape is simply gorgeous, and the breeze carries the sweet scent of fresh air, balsam and rich forest. Moss, fern and rhododendron line the trail’s sides as it continues the climb to the summit.
(Note: please follow signed instructions to stay on the trail at all times during the hike. The mountain’s landscape is home to rare – and fragile – plant species, some dating to the last glacial period. Don’t shortcut the trail or wander from the pavement… even a few steps could permanently damage this beautiful, fragile forest.)
The hike reaches the end of the paved trail at .3 mile, veering right. (The unpaved trail that veers left crosses over the Devil’s Courthouse tunnel on the Blue Ridge Parkway, connecting to the Mountains to Sea Trail in a lush forest.) The hike climbs stone stairs at .4 mile in a final ascent to the summit. The trail summits at .45 mile, climbing to the top of the jagged, rocky, craggy precipice at the mountain’s top.
Views extend in sweeping panoramas, with mountains in three neighboring states visible on a clear day. The air is chilly, crisp, clean and breezy at the summit. Large metal plaques, mounted to the rock-walled summit outcrop, point to prominent landscape features on the far horizon. Birds of prey, including the peregrine falcon, soar in the thermals created by this dramatically uprising landscape. The summit is a great place to stop for a rest, soak in the scenic beauty and soak up some sunshine.
Departing the summit, the hike retraces its steps to the Devil’s Courthouse trailhead, completing at just under one mile.
Devil's Courthouse Trail: Directions & Details
Free (limited) parking is available at the Devil's Courthouse overlook at MP 422 on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. (Before you go, check for trail updates and parkway closures on the official Blue Ridge Parkway website.)
35.305100, -82.899417 // N35 18.306 W82 53.965