Hawkbill Rock via Craggy Gardens Picnic Area Pisgah National Forest, NC
miles
LENGTH 3.8 MILES
DIFFICULTY 10.9 Medium
DURATION 2-3 hours
ELEVATION GAIN
1440
feet
TRAIL TYPE
There And
Back Again
Hawkbill Rock via Craggy Gardens Picnic Area

A steep roller coaster of a hike will take you from the crowded Craggy Gardens Picnic Area to a massive view from the more secluded Hawkbill Rock just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you want a shorter route, begin where the trail crosses Stoney Fork Road on the way to the Picnic Area, at the 3-way split with the gated road.

This route begins at the far end of the Picnic Area parking lot. You can take the trail at the sign for Craggy Gardens and then turn right onto the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, or look for the trailhead about 7-8 parking spaces to the right of the Craggy Gardens Trail. From here, turn right on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, following it downhill to cross the road you drove in on.

Crossing the road, continue on the trail next to the metal gate. Pass a small field on the left then shortly afterwards stay straight when the Mountains-to-Sea Trail splits off to the left at the signed intersection. For the next half-mile, you'll ascend over 400 feet to the summit of Snowball Mountain. Other than a minor view on a side trail, there's nothing to see here. While there are several side trails, they are easy to ignore. The only notable exception is on the way down Snowball Mountain a side trail splits to the left. Look for the yellow blaze and stay right.

Once you begin to ascend again, you're almost there. This is the steepest section of trail, gaining at a rate of over 1800 feet per mile. Luckily, it's short. On the way up, a couple views open to the left on short trails. Soon you'll come to an almost vertical rock face. It looks menacing, but the rock is very rough providing good grip and small ledges to climb up. If wet, be very careful. At the top of this obstacle, look to the left for a side trail to Hawkbill Rock. You can see if from the trail.

Climbing down to the lower ledge of Hawkbill Rock, you'll get over 180-degree views to the south towards the Blue Ridge Parkway. The most prominent mountain in your view is Snowball Mountain that you just summited. Try not to think about hiking back up it. Soak up the sun then make your way back the same way you came.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.2 mi
25 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.3 mi
119 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.5 mi
331 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
0.3 mi
305 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.5 mi
675 ft
For out-and-back hikes, elevation loss is the same as the gain.
Terrain Map Click to control map
Navigation
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead, Turn Right Look for the trailhead about 7-8 parking spaces to the right of the signed Craggy Gardens Trail at the far end of the parking lot. Immediately turn right on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. You can also take the Craggy Gardens Trail and just turn right at the first intersection to follow the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
0.5 mi
0.5 mi - Cross Road Look for the trail to continue directly across the road next to the gated road.
0.56 mi
0.56 mi - Small Field on Left
0.61 mi
0.61 mi - Stay Straight The Mountains-to-Sea splits to the left, but stay straight, following the sign for the Snowball Trail and Hawkbill Rock.
0.8 mi
0.8 mi - Side Trail to View on Left
1.38 mi
1.38 mi - Stay Right Unmarked side trail splits to the left. Stay to the right, following the yellow blaze.
1.85 mi
1.85 mi - Hawkbill Rock Climb a vertical rock face then immediately take the side trail on the left to Hawkbill Rock. Climbing down to the lower ledge provides even better views.
Details
length3.8 miles
difficulty10.9 Medium
duration2 - 3 hours
features Dog Friendly  Summit  Views 
trail typeThere And Back Again
blazeWhite Circle (Mountains-to-Sea), Yellow (Snowball)
elevation gain1440 ft.
park/forestPisgah National Forest
ranger districtAppalachian Ranger District
632 Manor Road
Mars Hill, NC 28754
828-689-9694
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.699547, -82.390988 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°41.97, W 82°23.46 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°41'58'', N 35°41'58'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.699547, -82.390988 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°41.97, W 82°23.46 most GPS units use this one
N 35°41'58'', N 35°41'58'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
Look for the trailhead about 7-8 parking spaces to the right of the signed Craggy Gardens Trail at the far end of the parking lot. You can also take the Craggy Gardens Trail and just turn right at the first intersection to follow the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Parking Capacity
~100 parking spaces.
Notes
Restrooms are available at the parking lot.
Very rocky and rooty in sections.
A few downed trees. You can get under 2 of them but one was more difficult to get around.
Just before Hawkbill Rock, you will have to climb almost vertically up a rough rock face. Be careful when wet and slippery, as well as on Hawkbill Rock itself.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-3 weeks ago
Oh, The Places You'll Go!
Mostly up and down, that's where you'll be going on this hike. It's not too long but it will feel it's length with steep ups and downs. But the view is absolutely worth it and it won't be nearly as crowded as the Craggy Gardens trails.
Medium | Hiked Spring 2019
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