Craggy Gardens Trail

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina 28166

Elevation Gain657ft
Trailhead Elevation5,500ft
Elevation Min/Max5279/5680ft
Elevation Start/End5500/5500ft

Craggy Gardens Trail

Craggy Gardens Trail is a hiking trail in Buncombe County, North Carolina. It is within Blue Ridge Parkway. It is 0.9 miles long and begins at 5,500 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 657 feet. Near the trailhead there are restrooms and parking. The Pinnacle Gap Visitor's Center ranger station can be seen along the trail. There are also a shelter and an information along the trail. Near the end of the trail is a viewpoint.

Craggy Gardens Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"How can names like Craggy Gardens, Craggy Dome, and Craggy Pinnacle not inspire hikers? Visible from all over northwest North Carolina, these barren crests offer awesome views. As the Blue Ridge Parkway climbs from Asheville, the sun often disappears in a Craggies-caused microclimate. Summits and clouds coalesce, lending the area the feel of much higher mountains. Be prepared for a truly peak experience.

This part of the Parkway possesses some of the high road’s most dramatic scenery. You’ll swear the treeless Craggies compare with Scotland. Craggy Gardens is one of the best places to savor the beauty of the seemingly alpine balds and the late-June rhododendron bloom. This guide includes Craggy Pinnacle Trail and Craggy Gardens Trail and Mountains-to-Sea Trail."

"The Blue Ridge Parkway is peppered along its 469-mile length with great leg-stretcher trails, paths that don’t go more than a mile in length but vastly exceed that in scope. Craggy Gardens is among the best of this genre."

"Get ready for some fun. You have a solid 10 miles of spectacular downhill into Asheville. You’ll gain it back if you are cycling on to Mount Pisgah, but for now, enjoy. Pisgah National Forest spreads its lush blanket of green as far as the eye can see. The Swannanoa River Valley and the town of Black Mountain are to the east."

"Great views from spectacular mountaintop balds recommend two Craggy Gardens hikes of different lengths. The Craggy Gardens Trail rises into the woods and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail goes right at 0.1 mile.

Beyond, the path climbs gradually through a marvelously cylindrical rhododendron tunnel. This first section of the hike is a self-guiding nature trail, with resting benches and signs identifying plants."

"The Great Craggy Mountains feature the closest balds to Asheville, and those mountain summits reveal some of the best views in Western North Carolina. This combo hike will take you on two short out-and-back trails. On the first segment, you will follow the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) to the rhododendron-dotted summit at Craggy Gardens. Then, after a short car shuttle, the second portion of the hike sends you to the top of Craggy Pinnacle for great views of the North Fork Reservoir and neighboring Craggy Dome."

"How can names like Craggy Gardens, Craggy Dome, and Craggy Pinnacle not be magnets for hikers? Visible from almost any corner of northwest North Carolina, these barren crests of the Craggy Mountains offer awesome views. The Craggies’ seemingly alpine, treeless environment is a one- of-a-kind ecosystem, and Craggy Gardens is one of the best places to experience the Southern balds.

The balds come in two varieties—grassy and heath. Grassy balds may be best exemplified by the meadow- covered crest of Roan Mountain, on the North Carolina–Tennessee state line west of the Parkway There are grassy balds atop the Craggies, but you’ll also see heath balds—extensive crests covered in rhododendron, mountain laurel, blueberries, and other plants of the heath community. The mountaineers called them “slicks,” and “hells,” which you would readily understand if you ever tried to bushwhack through one."

"The best time of year to hike in the Craggy Gardens area is mid to late June, simply for the magnificent show of the pinkish-purple Catawba rhododendron blooms. But the scenic views from the summit of Craggy Pinnacle make this a worthy hike any time of year that the Blue Ridge Parkway is accessible to this point.

Due to the high elevation (close to 5900 feet), the winter months can bring hazardous driving conditions with snow, ice, and slick roads, forcing the Park Service to close off access. Always call the parkway’s automated road and weather condition phone number before heading out."

"Enjoy one of the Parkway’s most inspiring 360-degree views from atop mysterious mountaintop meadows. Any Parkway motorist will likely agree that the Craggy Mountains' seemingly alpine, treeless environment represents some of the high road's most dramatic scenery. These balds are among the most unique ecosystems in the Southern Appalachians.

The late-bloom of rhododendron across the balds is one of the Southern Appalachians' premier natural events. Theories about the balds speculate that fires claimed the trees and made the soil unsuitable for immediate reforestation."

Craggy Gardens Trail Reviews

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Trail Information

Blue Ridge Parkway
Nearby City
Blue Ridge Parkway
Craggy Gardens
Local Contacts
USGS Craggy Pinnacle; Craggy Gardens map available in season at visitor center and online at
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018