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Summit Trail

Intermediate
 4.3 (16)

A smooth trail with a gentle, continuous climb. See 3 states from the airy summit perch!


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Map Key

1.7

Miles

2.7

KM

73%

Runnable

5,531' 1,686 m

High

4,576' 1,395 m

Low

955' 291 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Open year round, closed Christmas Day.

Description

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.

Flora & Fauna

This is an amphibolite mountain range. Look for Gray's lily, trailing wolfsbane, purple fringed orchids, and flame azaleas along the trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Eric Heistand with improvements by Jennifer Marquardt

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 16 votes

#1062

Overall
  4.3 from 16 votes
5 Star
38%
4 Star
56%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#1,062

Overall
14 Views Last Month
1,018 Since Jan 15, 2016
Intermediate

8%
0%
54%
23%
15%
0%

Photos

Blasting down the Elk Knob Summit Trail in perfect Fall conditions.
Jan 15, 2016 near Boone, NC
Spectacular view and I'm not even at the top!!
Jul 30, 2018 near Boone, NC
Late summer view from north-facing overlook halfway up the Summit Trail.
Sep 9, 2019 near Boone, NC
View from the top of Elk Knob (in winter) looking north.
Jul 30, 2018 near Boone, NC
Grandfather Mountain from Elk Knob summit trail
Aug 9, 2019 near Boone, NC
The view from the top of Elk Knob (in winter) looking south.
Jul 30, 2018 near Boone, NC

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May 17, 2017
ultragoat Hamilton
2 x bottom to top and a couple of loops at the bottom. 8.8mi