Mt Pisgah Trail: Blue Ridge Parkway hiking
Hike the Mt Pisgah Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville, trailing through a scenic forest to breathtaking views from the Mt Pisgah summit. It’s a moderately difficult but short climb, and oh-so-worth the effort.
The Mt Pisgah Trail is one of the Asheville area’s most popular hikes — and for good reason: the views from the summit’s observation deck are simply outstanding. While the hike is anything but easy (the hike’s second half is a nearly continuous, rocky climb from the Mt Pisgah trailhead), it’s relatively short, at just over 2 miles roundtrip. While the summit views are undoubtedly the main attraction, the Mt Pisgah Trail itself is worth the hike: the trail climbs and meanders through a beautiful deciduous forest that’s often filled with wildflowers in midsummer. And in late spring to early summer, the forest explodes into bloom, as gnarly-branched mountain laurel and rhododendron flare in abundant white-colored blossoms. It’s quite simply one of the best, classic hikes near Asheville, and it’s easily accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Mt Pisgah Trail: the hike
The Mt Pisgah Trail departs from a signed parking area off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 407.6, southwest of Asheville (view maps and driving directions). Views of the tower-capped mountain summit extend to the northwest from the trailhead, giving a preview of the climb that’s about to begin.
The trail treks to the north, meandering in a gentle rise through a forest filled with wildflowers, tall grasses, vibrant green moss, leafy fern and lichen-crusted rock.
The trail arcs around the lower elevations of Little Pisgah Mountain, passing the .5 mile mark. It’s been a gentle hike, until now, having climbed scarcely more than 50 feet in the first half mile — but that’s about to change. The hike arcs westbound, trailing due west toward Mt Pisgah and beginning a nearly unrelenting climb. The trail climbs over rustic stone stairs and blocky rock outcrops as it rises to the summit.
The climb intensifies, ascending an extended stretch of stone stairs at .95 mile and diving under a canopy of dense mountain laurel. The laurel’s gnarled, lichen-covered branches twist and turn, casting a dappled pattern of sunlight on the forest floor. The hike switches back, trailing to the north in a final climb to the Mt Pisgah summit. The pungent, onion-like smell of galax fills the air. A large outcrop sits trail right at 1.1 mile, offering a great pre-summit resting spot and a break from the climb.
The Mt Pisgah Trail summits at 1.15 miles. Sunlight is suddenly abundant as the hike ascends through the dense forest canopy to the sun-drenched Mt Pisgah peak. A wooden observation deck offers far-flung views in nearly every direction, with views only partially obscured by the massive tower that climbs skyward nearby. The views are spectacular.
Views extend northeast toward Asheville, west to Cold Mountain and south toward Fryingpan Mountain and its historic lookout tower. The Blue Ridge Parkway is easily visible from the summit, winding and slicing around the mountainous landscape of the Pisgah National Forest.
Departing the Mt Pisgah summit, the hike retraces its steps to the trailhead — a significantly easier, nearly all-downhill finish to the hike. The trail reaches the trailhead at 2.3 miles, completing the adventure.
Mt Pisgah Trail: Directions & Details
Free parking is available at the Mt Pisgah parking area, MP 407.6 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.)
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