Hiking Hotspot: Flat Rock Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway
A hidden gem on the Blue Ridge Parkway which sees relatively little traffic due in comparison to more popular tourist attractions (Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock) is the Flat Rock overlook trail. This spectacular summit vista is easily accessible to pretty much everyone as the loop is just over a half mile long. While this hike will not take up much of your time, it is located fairly close to several interesting hikes, so if you are looking to explore more there are endless options. Combining a few Parkway overlooks/trails will make the long drive a bit more worthwhile.
Blue Ridge summit hikes
There are a number of easy/moderate summit hikes located within close proximity to Asheville, Boone, and Blowing Rock. No matter where you are planning to stay during your Western North Carolina vacation, beautiful hikes and drives are always a short drive away. Flat Rock is not only one of the easier hikes (perfect for families and casual hikers), but also not nearly as crowded as more popular tourist destinations. If you are seeking a quiet hike with fantastic scenery, then Flat Rock is a perfect choice.
The hike to Flat Rock
One of the easier summit hikes on the Parkway, the relaxed 0.6 mile loop meanders through the forest up to several dazzling overlooks of the Blue Ridge mountains. This trail is a nice choice for newcomers as there are several interpretative signs detailing various trees and plants found in the region. From the summit at 4100 feet, panoramic views of the area including uninterrupted vistas of nearby Grandfather Mountain and the Linville Valley will impress even the most extreme hikers. In exchange for little more than a minor workout, you really are treated to some dazzling views. As an extra bonus, this area is particularly scenic during the autumn as golden hues liven up the hilly landscape. The summit area is very flat (hence the name) and spacious with lots of room for a picnic or snack break.
Location & Parking Info
The Flat Rock trail begins at the overlook at Milepost 308. Parking is free, although spaces are limited. It’s always best to get out here early, both to beat the traffic and to enjoy the cooler morning temperatures.
What to do in nearby
Rough Ridge – Gorgeous bird’s eye view overlook located about a half mile into the Tanawha trail. Amazing leaf peeping destination. MP 302.8.
Beacon Heights – Another short summit hike which features grand views of the surrounding mountain ranges. MP 305.2.
Blowing Rock – Popular tourist attraction featuring an overlook which offers sweeping vistas of the mountains. A bit pricey at $9 per person, although the views and historical significance make it worthy of a visit.