Hike the Devils Courthouse Trail to exceptional views from the summit of this jagged, rocky, towering mountain. The mountain’s views are easily some of the best off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville.
LOCATION:on the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville, NC
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map
Devils Courthouse is one of the most prominent and recognizable mountains just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountain’s overlook is a popular Parkway picnic spot, with stunning, scenic views of the surrounding rugged landscape. But the views from the overlook are minimal compared to the views from the mountain’s top – which are easily some of the best in the Asheville area.
While the hike to the summit is relatively short and mostly paved, it’s a challenging, 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 nearby peaks in the Pisgah National Forest, and far-flung views into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. And the hike itself is fairly spectacular, too: the trail dives through a shady, mossy, sweet-smelling forest of balsam fir and rare, high-altitude plants.
At just under a mile, round trip, the trail packs abundant take-your-breath-away views and spectacular forest beauty into a relatively short hike.
Devils Courthouse: the hike
The hike departs from an 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 balsam fir trees as the trail follows the Parkway westbound. Just before reaching a 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 tunnel on the Blue Ridge Parkway, connecting to the Mountains to Sea Trail and hiking to nearby Black Balsam Knob.) The hike climbs stone stairs at .4 mile in a final ascent to the summit. The trail crests 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, 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 rugged landscape. The summit is a great place to stop for a rest, soak in the scenic beauty and soak up some sunshine.
The rocky mountain summit is also a fantastic spot to catch a stunning sunset, with broad views of the western horizon. Departing the summit, the hike retraces its steps to the trailhead, completing the adventure at just under one mile.
Nearby hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The stretch of the Parkway near Devil’s Courthouse is one of the most scenic – and if you’ve got extra energy and daylight left to burn, there are some fantastic, must-hike trails nearby. Hike to several stunning waterfalls through fields of wildflowers and wild blueberries at Graveyard Fields. Catch stunning view after stunning view from the grassy, wildflower-covered mountain balds at Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain. Or hike the Art Loeb Trail from Black Balsam Knob to Shining Rock Mountain, a view-packed summit crusted in enormous boulders of snow-white quartz. And chase some more stunning summit views on our bucket list of top ten hikes to the best views on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
(There’s also a rocky pinnacle of the same name near Highlands, NC, Devils Courthouse at Whiteside Mountain. It’s a much more difficult hike, but the views are equally sublime.)
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
Free (limited) parking is available at the Devils 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