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Hike to the Beacon Heights summit off the Blue Ridge Parkway, catching stunning views of Grandfather Mountain from a pair of rocky overlooks and exploring a beautiful, rocky, mossy forest.

georgia hiking trails: 0-2 miles .8 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderaterelatively
moderate
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails near Asheville for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Asheville Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 779 Trails Illustrated Map

RATED: 4.6/5 (5 reviews)

 

It’s not a long hike: round-trip, this trail spans just under a mile. But it’s one of the most popular trails off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, and for an excellent reason: the views from Beacon Heights are far-flung, panoramic and beautiful. Two weathered, wide, gray rock outcrops at the mountain’s summit offer exceptional vistas to the south, east, and north, including the neighboring Calloway Peak at Grandfather Mountain. The towering summits of Mount Mitchell and Table Rock Mountain at Linville Gorge can be seen on the far horizon to the south.

Beacon Heights

Climbing from a trailhead directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway, this hike shares a route with the Tanawha Trail and Mountains to Sea Trail for the initial stretch, climbing through a lush, green forest filled with boulders, moss, fern and gnarly-branched rhododendron. Nearing the summit, the trail splits, traveling north and south to two enormous, curved rock overlooks and catching incredible panoramic views.

Moderately challenging and spanning a relatively short distance, it’s a great hike for families with kids – and one of the best, most scenic picnic spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hike to the Beacon Heights summit off the Blue Ridge Parkway, catching stunning views of Grandfather Mountain from a pair of rocky overlooks and exploring a beautiful, rocky, mossy forest. #hiking #asheville #nc #northcarolina #travel #outdoors #adventure

Beacon Heights Trail: the hike

The hike departs from a trailhead and parking area located near the Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 305 (view maps and driving directions), crossing a gravel road before diving eastbound into the forest. The feather-blazed, 13.5-mile Tanawha Trail veers to the left, hiking northbound to the Linn Cove Viaduct and the view-packed overlooks at Rough Ridge on Grandfather Mountain’s lower elevations. This hike veers right, traveling southwest and climbing through a rocky, rooty forest.

Beacon Heights

The journey continues southbound, following the white circular trail blazes of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Galax, a leafy evergreen ground cover, carpets the forest floor, and its pungent, onion-like scent fills the air. At just under .2 miles, the Mountains to Sea Trail splits right; this hike veers to the left (eastbound), climbing over large, weathered rock outcrops. The hike reaches a split at .25 miles, veering right to explore to the mountain’s southern overlook.

Views from the wide, southern overlook are outstanding, stretching to the nearby, antenna-topped summit of Grandmother Mountain, and southward to Linville Gorge, Table Rock Mountain, and Mount Mitchell State Park.

The hike departs the south overlook and retraces back to the trail junction near the summit. At the intersection, the hike turns northbound to explore the northern Beacon Heights overlook.

Beacon Heights

The trail exits the dense, low tree cover near the mountain’s summit, and vast panoramas unfold from the north overlook. The mountain’s wide, gently arced summit is studded with large boulders and cratered with shallow depressions that collect rainwater. Grandfather Mountain’s sharp, angular ridge dominates the northwest horizon, rising high above the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The gently-sloped summit is a perfect place for a water break or a picnic with spectacular views. The departs the northern overlook and retraces its outbound steps to the trailhead, hiking the outbound route in reverse. The hike reaches the trailhead parking area at just under .8 mile, completing the view-packed adventure.

More Grandfather Mountain hiking adventures

Looking for another nearby adventure? Ascend to outstanding views from the Grandfather Mountain summit, climbing the Grandfather Profile Trail to Calloway Peak. Or for a shorter adventure, travel north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Rough Ridge, a 1.2 mile (round-trip) Tanawha Trail hike to stunning vistas from angular rock outcrops, and some of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s best views. And check out our favorite hikes at Grandfather Mountain for even more adventures.


Beacon Heights Trail Map, Directions & Details

Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.

Trail Rating

RATED: 4.6/5 (5 reviews)

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Updates

Did you have trouble accessing the trail, or notice some recent trail updates or storm damage? We'd love to know! Contact us here, and thanks for helping us keep this site updated!

Driving Directions



Parking

Free parking is available at the Beacon Heights trailhead, located at MP 305.2 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Before you go, check for trail updates and parkway closures on the official Blue Ridge Parkway website.)


GPS Coordinates

36.084050, -81.829950     //     N36 05.043 W81 49.797

Elevation Profile

Beacon Heights Trail: Elevation Profile
 
 
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Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

Eric Champlin
Author

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.