Looking for one of the most rewarding hikes in North Carolina?? Look no further than Hawksbill Mountain. The views from the top of the mountain are nothing short of breathtaking…assuming you still have some breath leftover after the steep climb to get there. Let’s find out what makes Hawksbill Mountain so spectacular!
Only a little under a mile to the summit, the Hawksbill Trail really packs a punch, as it climbs about 700 feet from the start of the trail to the top. The first quarter mile climbs steadily, and after a brief level section, it begins to become increasingly steep (it will help if you’re part mountain goat). Beginning from the small parking area, the trail is easy to find, and the path is well defined. Most of the trail cuts through old maple and oak trees, with a smattering of rhododendron and mountain laurel thrown in. If you visit during the end of May into the later parts of June, you’ll have a really colorful hike. The trail is pretty easy going until you reach the T-junction, where after turning left you’ll be greeted with a 400 foot climb over two tenths of a mile. There are portions in this final section where the trail is literally climbing up rocks. There are a few areas to catch some decent long range views on the way up…but these views will pale in comparison to what awaits you at the top.
Once at the top, there will be a small primitive camp site, and from here you can go straight to check out the lower section of the summit, or veer right to head to the very top. The lower section will have the best views of Table Rock Mountain and the valley below it, as well as views looking down into the Linville Gorge. The top section will give you even better views of the gorge and of Grandfather Mountain. This would be a prefect place to bring a snack or lunch, sit on the rocks, and really appreciate the majesty of the area; the Linville River carving its way through the rugged mountains, Table Rock and Shortoff Mountains rising above the gorge, and the mountains giving way to the piedmont. The great thing about this area (aside from the view), is that there are no fences or walls or signs anywhere. Everything is wild and free. Since there are no fences or walls, it would be extremely easy to fall off, so use extreme caution when exploring the area. Wind gusts can be very powerful, especially at the very edge of the cliffs. Let’s take a look at some shots from the top!
The best time to visit Hawksbill will be during spring or autumn. The blooming laurel and rhododendron during the spring make the hike much more enjoyable, and the colorful leaves during the fall make the view from the top even more magnificent. Being about 65 miles from Asheville, it’s a decent destination for a family day trip. Be sure to check out close by Linville Falls, as it’s one of the more beautiful waterfalls in the area.
*Directions – From Asheville, head towards Marion via I-40, then north on US 281 to the Linville Falls area, then right on Highway 183, then right in Highway 181. From Highway 181, turn right on Gingercake Rd, and the parking area will be about four miles on the left.