When Elk Knob first opened in the mid-2000s, the climb to the summit was straight up a draw littered with boulders. Thanks to more than 6,000 volunteer hours invested over 5 1/2 years, there is now a civil, state-of-the-art 1.9-mile hiking trail from Meat Camp Road to the summit. The journey itself — through a northern hardwood forest of sugar maple, yellow birch, American beech and yellow buckeye — is memorable enough. But the view from the barren, rocky knob perched over a mile high (5,520 feet) has even more memorable views to the west, north and east. That elevation and northerly local, coupled with the smooth, new trail, means there’s also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing when conditions allow.

More info: Elk Knob State Park website; “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina,” Hike No. 90

Maps: NC Parks

Map of trailhead here.
View 20 Classic North Carolina Hikes: Elk Knob State Natural Area in a larger map

elk knob
Location: Meat Camp Road west of NC 194
Nearest town: Todd
Latitude: N 36.332586
Longitude: W81.69064
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.8 miles (round-trip)
Loop/one-way: Out-and-back
Time to complete: 3 hours