Hike to stunning summit views at Craggy Pinnacle, exploring an exceptionally beautiful forest just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and climbing through abundant blooming Catawba rhododendron.

georgia hiking trails: 0-2 miles .9 miles
(round trip)
georgia hiking trails: easydifficulty:
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-

LOCATION:on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville, NC

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

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Asheville Trails shirts and our favorite outdoor apparel

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 779 Trails Illustrated Map

The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders along a towering ridge crest, offering some pretty exceptional roadside views from this historic and iconic American drive. Given the Parkway’s lofty elevations, many hikes off the Parkway don’t need to trek far to score some fantastic panoramic views or explore unique, high-elevation forests. The Craggy Pinnacle Trail is a prime example: it’s a short trail, spanning less than a mile round trip, but the trail’s pinnacle views are simply stunning, offering sweeping summit vistas from a pair of high-elevation overlooks.

Craggy Pinnacle

Wildflowers, blackberries, and blueberries cover the Pinnacle’s sun-drenched peak in summer months. And the trail to the top climbs through one of the most stunning, surreal, unique forests we’ve hiked in North Carolina. The landscape is exceptionally beautiful: twisted rhododendron and hardwoods densely shade a forest filled with lush, green moss and weathered high-elevation plants.

In late spring, the Craggies erupt into color when Catawba rhododendron bloom in brilliant pink and purple flowers by the literal millions. Summertime brings scores of wildflowers and berry-filled bushes. And in any season (when the Blue Ridge Parkway is open), the beautifully gnarled, rugged, high-elevation forest pairs with stunning mountaintop views to make an especially memorable and extremely photo-worthy hike.

Craggy Pinnacle: the hike

The hike departs from a signed trailhead at the Craggy Dome parking area (view maps and driving directions), ascending stone stairs from the southernmost edge of the parking area. The trail dives into a dense, gnarled forest, with sunlight casting stunning arrays of shadows on the forest floor. The terrain is rocky and rooty, covered in leafy fern, silvery lichen, and soft green moss.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail at Craggy Gardens

This ecosystem is unique: it’s a rocky, high-elevation, often windy and exposed terrain. The forest of rhododendron, beech, buckeye and other hardwood trees twist, gnarl and nob over the rugged terrain. Many of the forest’s plants are rare or endangered, so please hike carefully, remain on marked trails, and don’t climb trees or rocks.

The hike passes a small, moss-covered concrete spring house at .2 mile, continuing the summit-bound climb. The trail arcs sharply southbound at .3 mile, passing a small cave under a chiseled, angled rock outcrop. The hike reaches a v-shaped intersection at .35 mile, veering right to explore the lower overlook.

The trail treks through thickets of blueberries before catching vast panoramas from the lower overlook. The chiseled, green-blue hued mountains of the Pisgah National Forest extend to the right and left, offering particularly beautiful views of their lushly forested, time-weathered peaks.

The hike backtracks from the lower overlook, veering right at the trail junction to climb to the summit. A walled, terraced overlook offers stunning 360-degree views. Wildflowers stretch high towards the ample sunlight on the open, breezy, view-filled peak.

Craggy Pinnacle Sunset

The summit is the perfect place to take in the view or catch a few high-elevation rays before backtracking to the trailhead. At nearly 5900 feet elevation, the summertime breeze is especially refreshing at this altitude, and often much cooler than nearby Asheville. And sunsets from the summit are simply spectacular.

Departing the summit, the hike retraces its steps to the trailhead, dropping elevation through the twisted, gnarly, rocky forest. The hike reaches the trailhead at .9 mile, completing the hike.

More view-packed Craggy Gardens adventures

Chase some more exceptional mountaintop views and climb through rhododendron blooms by the millions on the Craggy Gardens Trail. This two-mile round trip explores the grassy, sun-drenched summit southeast of the pinnacle, climbing through a mossy, gnarled forest to a high-elevation grassland.

Craggy Gardens – Craggy Pinnacle Trail Map Map, Directions & Details

This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions


Free parking is available at the trailhead at MP 364 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Before you go, check for trail updates and parkway closures on the official Blue Ridge Parkway website.)

GPS Coordinates

35.704167, -82.373750     //     N35 42.250 W82 22.425

Elevation Profile

Craggy Gardens – Craggy Pinnacle Trail Elevation Profile
Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

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

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.