Flat Top Lookout Tower

Hike to 40ft tower at the summit of Flat Top Mountain. One of the more popular hikes inside Moses Cone Park.

Inside the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, is the 5 mile round trip hike to the highest point of the park – Flat Top Mountain. This moderate hike provides a number of stunning views of the surrounding mountains and ends at the summit where there is a 40ft tower. The tower gets you just above the tree tops providing complete 360 degree views. The wide trail to the tower is very well maintained and an absolute joy to hike on.

Moses H. Cone Memorial Park was named after Moses H. Cone who was a textile entrepreneur during the late 19th century. It is a 3,500 acre park located on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock North Carolina. The park contains two lakes, 25 miles of trails, a craft shop, and the Moses Cone Manor. The park is adjacent to the Julian Price Memorial Park which, combined, comprise the largest developed area set aside for public recreation on the Parkway.

Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is located at milepost 294 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and is easily spotted. The turnoff is a short loop with a moderate number of parking spots scattered throughout the loop. This is a very popular area, especially in the fall, and finding available parking can be a challenge at times. Your best bet is to arrive early. There are nice restroom facilities at the park which are actually right at the trailhead to Flat Top Mountain. Moses H. Cone Park is close and easily accessed from any of the North Carolina Mountain towns like Blowing Rock, Boone, or Banner Elk.

The trailhead to Flat Top Mountain starts at the far end of the loop just past the restrooms. There is an informative plaque just above the restrooms if you want to view a map of the estate and the trail to Flat Top Mountain. To start the hike, follow the main carriage path from the restrooms under the Blue Ridge Parkway and look for the sign at the fork. From here it is 2 and 1/2 miles to the top, on one of the best maintained trails you will ever hike on.

The trail maintains a slight ascent the entire hike, although it levels off at times. The incline is never too difficult as there are plenty of switchbacks. You are also distracted by the numerous views as you hike up the mountain and the trail wanders in and out of the forest cover.

Just before the 1 mile point you encounter a turn off to the Cone gravesites. It is only 1/10’s of a mile to the site and is worth checking out. It is a beautiful and peaceful area with an outstanding view of the mountains.

Continuing on the main trail up the mountain, the trail crosses a large open pasture and then switches back and enters the woods again. The trail will switch back several times as you work your way up the steepest section of the hike. The trail continues to deliver excellent views that continuously get better as you go higher up the mountain.

Eventually you make it to the top and are rewarded with the best view of all. A few flights of stairs up the Flat Top Tower and you will be just above the tree line with a full 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. It is an epic view and a spot where you will want to hang out, relax and just enjoy it.

When you have finished enjoying the view at Flat Top Mountain, start the downhill trek back to the parking lot.

Leave a Comment