Elk Knob

Elk Knob by the Summit Trail

*One of our Top Ten Hikes in the Southern Appalachians!

We ain’t kiddin’…this is one great view
  • Location: Elk Knob State Park, Todd, NC
  • Distance: 3.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 961 feet
  • Time: three to four hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Best season: Spring or Fall
  • B.I.T. Rating ***1/2

Directions: Park is located about ten miles North of Boone, NC. From Boone, pick up NC 194 where it intersects US 421 right outside downtown. Take NC 194 north approximately four miles and turn left onto Meat Camp Road (there is a small convenience store on the corner.) Follow Meat Camp Road 5.5 miles and turn right into the park.

Brief Description: One of very best and least known viewpoints in North Carolina is the summit of Elk Knob. A recently opened trail, one of the best graded we’ve ever hiked, allows for a relatively modest approach to a very prominent summit (5,520 feet.) The only drawback to the hike is that the trail work is SO good, veteran hikers might not think it enough of a challenge.


Trail Map (from AllTrails)


Download PDF

Why Do This Hike?

  • One of the best viewpoints in North Carolina, maybe the entire Blue Ridge
  • Actually two nearly 180 degree viewpoints, the one of the right (north) is the more dramatic
  • Little known gem; see it before it gets overrun
  • Views to Grandfather Mountain, Mount Rogers, Pilot Mountain
  • Uncrowded compared to other comparable Appalachian peaks
  • Trail is relatively new and still in excellent condition
  • Some of the finest trail work we’ve ever seen
  • Views into three states (its close to the NC/VA/TN borders)
  • Trail easy to follow
  • Entirely safe; would require a serious amount of Le Stupid to get in trouble here
  • Very good footing; nowhere very steep or rough
  • A very good hike for dogs (if leashed) children or beginner hikers
  • This is relatively little known corner of NC; off the beaten path
  • Other trails to explore in this park, which is still being developed
  • Visit nearby Jefferson Mountain State Park on the same trip
  • Finish up with a stop in one of our favorite mountain towns — Boone, home of App State

But First Consider:

  • Veteran hikers may consider this too scant of a challenge
  • More of a shake out hike
  • As with many big peaks in the south, the amount of work needed to reach the summit seems…a bit too gall durned easy
  • For more for a challenge (but more crowds) try nearby Jefferson Mountain 
  • Not a lot of parking in this still relatively new park
  • Summit could be a dangerous place in a thunderstorm (but can be quickly evacuated to the safety of the trees)
  • Not really much bad to say about this one it’s just a nice, moderate hike

Blog Post

Elk Knob is suitable for K9 Hiking