This is one of the most popular hikes in Pisgah (FS #114) during the summer and autumn color seasons because of the spectacular views at the top. Note the helicopter landing pad halfway up — it’s also one of the most accident prone because it’s a constant climb to the top and the top of the dome looks deceptively flat when in fact it is so sloped it’s easy to lose your footing with nothing to stop a fall.
Take plenty of water in warm weather. Stay on the trail and do not short cut the numerous switchbacks, which causes significant erosion in this fragile forest.
As you climb, you will notice changing forest types as the soils become drier and less fertile. Table Mountain Pine seems to grow out of solid rock in some places. After about two miles along a rather flat stretch of trail, a spur trail veers left across flat, open rock. Follow it to a beautiful west and southwest beautiful view that includes John Rock. End the hike on this high note if you don’t want to climb to the top.
Because the yellow blazes painted on the rock may be faded look for a large, white “H” on the rock that marks the helicopter landing pad to the left of the trail. Then hike diagonally ahead to your left until you reach the rock’s rim. To return to the main trail, proceed on another diagonal through small stands of trees until you rejoin it.
The last mile of the trail is the steepest, and the view dramatically appears as the trail tops out and leaves the trees. You’ll catch your breath at the impressive panorama northward across a wide valley to high balds and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Pisgah National ForestFeatures: Mountain viewsLength: 6.2 miles roundtripDifficulty: Moderate to DifficultUsage: HeavyTrail condition: GoodDog Friendly: Dogs must be on leash in developed recreation areas.Wheelchair Accessible: NoSeasons: Year-round, but beware the dome is icy and hazardous in the winter.Restrooms: No