ElevationAscent: 955' 291 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 5,531' 1,686 m
Low: 4,576' 1,395 m
GradeAvg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)
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“A smooth trail with a gentle, continuous climb. See 3 states from the airy summit perch!”— Eric Heistand
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.
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Land Manager: USFS - Cherokee National Forest Office