A short hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway offering stunning views of multiple directions with great views of Grandfather Mountain.
There is a hidden gem just off the Blue Ridge Parkway that offers stunning views in multiple directions including some great views of Grandfather Mountain. This treasure is a short hike of only 1400ft up a beautifully maintained trail with a moderate but easily elevation gain. Beacon Heights is all of this and more.
The trailhead for Beacon Heights is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 305.2 just south of Grandfather Mountain and the Lin Cove Viaduct. The parking area is marked so you should have no problem finding it. It is located about 1 hour from Wilkesboro North Carolina or 90 minutes from Asheville North Carolina or Kingsport Tennessee. The parking lot isn’t too big and only has marked spots for about 9 cars. However there is a small road, Carroll Gragg Road, that parallels the Parkway and you actually cross to get to the trailhead. If the lot is full, you could parallel park along Carroll Gragg Road if you have to.
This out and back hike is just over 1/2 mile total and starts just across Carroll Gragg Rd. Follow the paved pathway off the back of the main parking lot and you can’t miss well signed start of the Beacon Heights Trail.
The trail is a little bit rocky but very well maintained and easy to follow through a lush forest filled with rhododendron and mountain laurel that usually are in bloom around mid-June. There are even benches setup along the trail for you to rest on or just relax and enjoy the beautiful forest around you.
There are 3 forks in the trail that you will encounter on your walk up to Beacon Heights:
The first fork is the Tanawha Trail where you will bear right. The second fork is the Mountain to Sea trail where you will bear left. Both of these intersections have signs that clearly indicate which direction to take.
The final unmarked fork in the trail has a lone bench sitting between the two paths. You are mere steps away from your destination but must decide if you want to go left – viewing to the North, or right – viewing to the south. Or, you can do what we did and do both:
The path to the left goes up a few rocky steps arriving at the top of an open rock face that offers your best views of Grandfather Mountain. The top is also filled with wild blueberry bushes that would be a nice autumn treat.
The path on the right quickly reaches a southern facing rock face that that is perfect for finding your spot, sitting down, and relaxing as you enjoy the numerous mountains and hills off in the distance.
Regardless of whether you choose to enjoy just one side or both, you are going to like the view on Beacon Heights. When you are done enjoying the view, hike safely back down the ridge to the parking lot.