The Summit Trail
was completed with the help of over 6,000 hours provided by many volunteers over a five year span. The beautiful and well-maintained trail is a big part of the adventure but the breathtaking view from the top is the icing on the cake. Upon reaching the summit of Elk Knob runners have spectacular views of The Peak, Three Top, and Bluff Mountains, Mount Jefferson, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Mt Rodgers (Va.), and the Iron Mountains in Virginia and Tennessee.
Looking for a mountain 5k with a continuous, but manageable ascent? The Elk Knob Summit Trail
is calling you. Follow the main gravel road through Elk Knob State Park until it dead ends at the large trailhead parking area. The Backcountry Trail descends to the left. You'll ascend the Summit Trail
to the right.
This trail took over five years to build and you'll see why - it's the smoothest, most bomber trail in the NC mountains. Expect grades of less than 10% for the majority of the trail. You can catch your breathe and take in long distance views at an overlook around the 0.75 mile mark.
On the final push, the trail steepens as you power out the last bit of vertical on perfectly spaced steps onto the old jeep trail/doubletrack. From here there are two summit options to take in: the North Summit with views of Mount Rogers and Virginia, and the South Summit with views of Grandfather Mountain, Roan Mountain, and Mount Mitchell. For a faster, albeit more knee-knocking descent, you can take the old jeep trail straight back to the parking area.
This is an amphibolite mountain range. Look for Gray's lily, trailing wolfsbane, purple fringed orchids, and flame azaleas along the trail.