Boone, North Carolina is famous for its mountains, waterfalls and natural beauty. All of these factors combine to make Boone and the surrounding region an excellent place to take a hike. Some of the best hiking in the area can be accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, a National Parkway known for its scenic beauty. The parkways winds through mountains and valleys, and famously includes the Linn Cove Viaduct which in itself is worth the drive. Perhaps equally famous is the abundance of world-class hiking trains that can be found along the parkway. As you travel the parkway, every mile or so you will encounter a pull-off with a small parking lot with an overlook and, in most cases, access to a hiking trail. Generally speaking, the more crowded the parking lot, the better the trail.
The hiking along the parkway is obviously excellent, but there are other exceptional trails in the area that are sometimes overlooked. One of the best kept secrets in area hiking is the Summit Trail at Elk Knob State Park. This 1.9 mile (each-way) trail leads to the summit of one of the highest peaks in the area. At 5520 feet, the summit is one of the tallest peaks in the high country. The hike is rated strenuous, but fortunately it’s only uphill one way. For those who don’t feel up to the full hike, there is a nice overlook with a bench about a mile up the trail. Those who make the full climb are rewarded with two different views from the summit, one on each side of the mountain. Both are spectacular. From the top, hikers are able to see local landmarks like Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Three Top and Bluff Mountains.
Elk Knob State Park also offers three other trails ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty. There a picnic area with tables, and backcountry camping is available with a reservation.
Learn more about Elk Knob State Park at Elk Knob State Park | NC State Parks (ncparks.gov)