Beautiful views and rock outcroppings after a short hike up to Hawksbill Mountain.
Sitting high atop the Linville Gorge overlooking the entire area is the great hiking destination of Hawksbill Mountain. This 1.5 mile roundtrip hike is short but climbs almost 1000ft to the summit giving it a strenuous rating by most accounts. However it is well worth it and your efforts are generously rewarded with one of the best views of the Linville Gorge along with great photo opportunities at the hawksbill.
The trailhead for Hawksbill Mountain is located off of the unpaved Table Rock Rd about 5 miles off highway 181. As you approach on Highway 181, you will turn on Ginger Cake Road and then follow the signs to Table Rock. However, Ginger Cake Road loops and intersects Highway 181 twice. So if you are approaching from the South, you will turn left on the first Ginger Cake Road. If you approach from the North, you will turn right on the second Ginger Cake Road; about 4 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. As you start on Table Rock Road and the pavement ends, look for the trailhead as you turn a corner about 3 miles after the pavement ends. There are stairs on the right with a sign but the sign is a little up the trail and can be missed if you are not looking for it. The parking area isn’t too large but you can parallel park on the road if you need to. There are not any restroom facilities onsite.
The trail begins at the stairs directly across the road from the parking area. The trail is well maintained, easy to follow, and will steadily climb up the ridge for about 1/2 a mile where it merges with the Jonas Ridge Trail. Go left to Hawksbill following the well placed sign at the trail intersection. The intensity picks up a bit as the trail becomes steeper. After about 1/4 of a mile you will encounter a split in the trail. Either way will get you to the top with the left being shorter but much steeper. During our hike, we checked out both routes and the trail to the right was much better. It wasn’t really that much longer but it was definitely more gradual. The trail to the left was steep and slightly overgrown making it almost feel like we were cutting through an area that wasn’t really a trail. Whichever way you choose, it won’t be too long and you will reach the top which is very obvious as your climb levels off.
From the summit plateau, you can wander around for different views. Going left will provide excellent views of Table Rock to the South; while the views on the right provide the best views as you look out across the gorge. The signature rock formations of Hawksbill are also to the right. This is a remote area with some very exposed cliffs so exercise caution while enjoying the well earned views of Hawksbill Mountain.
This is an out and back hike so hike back down to the parking lot when you are done.