At 7,460 acres, the Middle Prong is on the small side for a wilderness. And remember back in Hike No. 13 we said that Sam Knob gets less traffic because it’s in the shadow of the Shining Rock Wilderness? Well, Middle Prong lies in the shadow of Sam Knob and gets even less traffic. Why? It’s certainly not for a lack of scenery. Nor is it because of access: the Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs along the south edge of the wilderness and is never hard to follow. (The same can’t be said of the trails that spur off the MST and penetrate the wilderness to the north.) Great hike, and because it parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway, an easy shuttle.

More info: Middle Prong Wilderness

Map: “Shining Rock & Middle Prong Wilderness: Pisgah National Forest,” USDA Forest Service/Southern Region.

Map of trailhead here.
View 20 Classic North Carolina Hikes: Middle Prong Wilderness in a larger map

middle prong
Location: NC 215 just north of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Nearest town: Waynesville
Latitude: N35 18.155
Longitude: W82 54.557
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6.8 miles
Loop/one-way: One-way
Time to complete: 3-5 hours