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Bearwallow Mountain Loop

Intermediate
 4.8 (6) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A short but beautiful run to one of the crown jewels of the Hickory Nut Gorge.


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Map Key

1.8

Miles

2.9

KM

77%

Runnable

4,131' 1,259 m

High

3,654' 1,114 m

Low

477' 145 m

Up

469' 143 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

22%

Max Grade (13°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The Bearwallow Mountain Trail is periodically closed in winter due to freeze-thaw conditions that are harmful to the trail tread. However, Fire Tower Road, the gravel road leading to the summit of Bearwallow Mountain, is open year-round, so even when the trail is closed you can still run to the top!

Overview

Bearwallow Mountain offers exceptional scenery in reward for a short run! At 4,232 feet above sea level, with a grassy meadow at its summit, the mountain features a nearly 360-degree view that includes Mt. Mitchell and Mt. Pisgah. Its breathtaking vistas also include a birds-eye view of Hickory Nut Gorge, downtown Hendersonville, and the high country of South Carolina.

A historic fire lookout tower occupies the summit, as do grazing cattle who call the mountaintop home. Bearwallow Mountain is the perfect spot for sunny days, amazing sunsets, starry night skies, and everything in between.

Description

The trail to the summit is approximately one mile each way. You can also follow a gravel road back to the parking area for a loop run, as shown on the map. You'll begin at the trailhead, which is characterized by an information kiosk and a wooden archway. The trail switchbacks several times to begin its climb up the slopes of Bearwallow Mountain.

Just beyond the half-mile mark, the path levels out, providing a breather as it curves around Bearwallow's western ridge. Once on the mountain's northern slopes, keep climbing to reach the scenic summit meadow at 0.7 mi. Good views to the west and south are available as the woodland trail ends at the meadow.

If you continue a short ways to the top of the meadow, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views to the north, as well.

History & Background

Bearwallow Mountain Summit could easily be a subdivision of luxurious mountain homes. With views like that, they would sell for millions! But the Lyda family, which owns the mountaintop, didn't want to see this beautiful land developed. Instead, they chose to protect it forever by granting a conservation easement to Conserving Carolina.

While most conservation easements on privately owned land do not allow public access, the Lydas chose to grant access for hikers so that all of us can enjoy the view. They continue to farm this land, grazing cows on the mountaintop.

Conserving Carolina has been working with the Lyda family to expand the protected land on Bearwallow since 2009, when we acquired a conservation easement on 81 acres at the summit. In 2013, we protected an additional 85 acres along its high-elevation ridgeline. In 2017, we protected over 300 additional acres between Bearwallow and Little Bearwallow Mountain, resulting in a total of 476 acres protected forever!

Contacts

Land Manager: Conserving Carolina

Shared By:

Conserving Carolina

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 6 votes

#1

in Asheville

#1105

Overall
  4.8 from 6 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Asheville

#1,105

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1,325 Since Jan 13, 2020
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Photos

Beautiful views from the top.
Jan 20, 2020 near Fairview, NC
Meet the residents of Bearwallow Mountain!
Jan 16, 2020 near Fairview, NC

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Mar 22, 2020
Mike D
Well-groomed trails 6mi