Beacon Heights Trail (Milepost 305)

Difficulty Rating:  6

Rocky, rough trail terrain

I have often noticed that this trail is a popular one, with its small parking lot overflowing with cars on nice days.  After (finally) hiking it myself, I can absolutely see why.

This trail is 0.35 miles one way, and culminates in two separate rock outcroppings which offer gorgeous views.  The trail begins directly across from the parking lot, entering the woods on the bank of a road passing in front of the parking area.

The trail ascends at a moderate pace through rhododendron, hemlocks, maples, and magnolias.  The terrain is somewhat rough, with many rocks littering the path and exposed roots.  The trail soon reaches a junction, where a sign points the way to the rest of the Beacon Heights trail, which turns to the left, and the Tanawha Trail, which begins at this point and goes to the right.

The trail splits into two paths, each leading to a view

From here the trail continues with similar incline and terrain, and soon splits into two paths, each leading to a view.  The path to the right is not as steep or rocky as the rest of the trail, and leads out to an open area of smooth, nearly flat rock offering a lovely view of the surrounding mountains.  If you are ever lucky enough to hike this trail when it isn’t crowded, this would be a great spot to sit and relax for a bit or read a book.

The path to the left is a steep and difficult, but short, climb to another rock outcropping.  This one is quite a bit larger than the first, with views in nearly every direction.  This area provides a particularly excellent view of Grandfather Mountain—it’s so close that you can see the cars driving up the steep zigzagging road to the top of the mountain.

One of the long-range views from the path on the right

There is no loop connecting the two paths, so you have to retrace your steps back to the intersection each time.  To complete the hike, go back the way you came, turning right at the sign for the Tanawha Trail.

This trail is of moderate difficulty because of the rocky and often steep terrain.  The rocks don’t require any special climbing ability, but they do make the hike more physically demanding and I recommend wearing sturdy shoes or hiking boots.

Grandfather Mountain, visible from the path on the left

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~ by theartsynaturalist on October 19, 2010.

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