Hiking Hawksbill Mountain
Hiking Hawksbill Mountain
For some reason or another, we haven’t been on a good hike since early November. Life, winter, and my bad directions have gotten in the way of our once weekly hikes but we’ve been determined to get outside and hiking recently. We woke up this morning to find that the sky was clear, the weather forecast called for sun all day, and the weather was above freezing. It was finally our day! We headed towards Hawksbill Mountain.
With Mocha, our lovable but smelly chocolate lab, packed in the back seat we were finally on our way after a long “winter break.” Headed north up North Carolina Route 181, we snaked our way up the mountain to the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.
Hiking in North Carolina is magical, and the forests seem like they are directly taken from those of fairy tales. The trees form dark tunnels, and their wavy trunks stretch up into the blue sky. As you climb, the flora changes into much hardier versions of life and we even spotted some icicles leftover from a prior snow.
The wind was whipping today around the Gorge, and it created a wonderful sound of rustling leaves and whistling air. Cazzie even remarked how nice it would be to fall asleep to that on a daily basis. We found a beautiful overlook about halfway on the trail that offered up views of snowcapped mountains in the distance.
We were doing well until we reached the last uphill stretch. We rounded the corner, and found a giant path strewn with rocks that was standing between us and the summit. Panting a bit, out of shape from the winter, we started up the trail. Surprisingly, Mocha, all the bit of 16 years old, was the one who aced this section! He was bounding in front of us, pulling on his leash wondering what was taking us humans so long.
We broke through the clearing to spectacular views and a blue sky awaiting us. Hawksbill Mountain truly is one of the most picturesque summits in the area, and the view is never a disappointment. I prefer Hawksbill Mountain trail to Table Rock because you get the added bonus of having Table Rock in your view. Plus the hike is a little longer so I feel like I’m getting a good workout in!
We sat at the summit and spread out our blanket for a little snack. The panoramic views surround you and it reminded us how much we missed being able to be outside, but how glad we were there now.
After the wind chilled us to the bone, we headed back down towards the car. Per usual, the hike down always seemed to take about half the time as the way up and we were on our way in no time.
The great part of the Gorge Wilderness Area is all the trails are interconnected. Each hike has the option of extension to create your own path through the wilderness. As we were driving back towards town, we made the pact to explore farther into the area next time. I have a feeling we’ll be back next weekend.
The trail is 2.4 miles round trip. There’s parking in a gravel lot right next to the trail head that fits about 15-20 cars. To get to the trail head, take Route 181 to Ginger Cake Acres Road. This road is paved for 4 miles and will turn into a gravel road for the next 2 miles until you reach Hawksbill Mountain trail head. From here, you have access to many other trails in the region, including Table Rock and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Hawksbill Mountain sits at 4,009 feet elevation and the trail climbs roughly 700 feet in 1.2 miles. This can be a little strenuous for most, so bring water. The trail is mostly shaded with the summit being in direct sunlight so bring sunscreen if you plan on sitting at the top for a while. Dogs are allowed on the trail if kept on a leash. As always, leave nothing but footprints and take all your garbage with you! Happy hiking!