Hiking in the Craggy Gardens Area

Craggy Gardens is a mountaintop area located along the Blue Ridge Parkway not far north of Asheville, NC in the Great Craggy Mountains range.

Blooming Catawba rhododendron, part of what gives Craggy Gardens its name.
Blooming Catawba rhododendron, part of what gives Craggy Gardens its name.

Peaks top out at over 6000 ft in elevation, while the Parkway in this area ranges from about 4600 ft to 5600 ft, making it one of the high altitude areas to escape the summer heat and enjoy early fall color. A number of trails wind throughout the area with the Mountains to Sea Trail as a backbone linking them together. Everything from short, easy strolls to long, overnight hikes are possible starting from Craggy Gardens, with gorgeous scenery making it all worth the effort.

Sunset and Flowers in Craggy Gardens
Sunset and Flowers in Craggy Gardens

Hiking Trails

The Craggy Gardens trail connects the Visitor Center with the Picnic Area, sharing a portion of the path with the Mountains to Sea Trail. It's a moderate hike, with a spur trail at the high point that leads to the gardens area and an overlook. The trail is extremely popular, but highly recommended, and is one of the best hikes in the region.

The Craggy Pinnacle trail starts one parking area north of the Visitor Center, at the Craggy Dome overlook. It's short, but it leads to one of the best summit views in the range as it reaches the very top of this sharp-peaked mountain. This trail does not connect to the others in the area without a walk on the Parkway.

The Snowball trail is a US Forest Service trail which starts off the Mountains to Sea Trail just west of the visitor center. It leads across Snowball Mountain to Hawkbill Rock, where a great view back to the east of the primary ridge of the Great Craggy range. A lesser-used trail, it's most easily accessed from the first junction on the Picnic Area spur road, or from the Picnic Area itself, but it can also be accessed from the visitor center via the Craggy Gardens trail.

The Douglas Falls trail is a US Forest Service trail which connects to the Mountain to Sea Trail on Craggy Pinncale. It's accessible from the visitor center parking area, and descends 3.5 mi to the 70-ft free-falling waterfall of the same name. This is a more strenuous trek with over 1500 ft of elevation gain; however, it travels through a beautiful, wilderness-like area and is well worth the effort if you have the time and energy.

The Mountains to Sea Trail passes through the entire Craggy Gardens area, sharing a portion of path with the Craggy Gardens trail. It can be used to tie all the other trails in the Craggy Gardens area together.

Craggy Gardens Trail

  • This excellent trail travels from the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center up to Craggy Flats and Craggy Knob, then down to the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area. You will first reach the intersection with the Mountains to Sea and Douglas Falls trails. From here...
  • 0.9mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Craggy Pinnacle Trail

  • Starting at the Craggy Dome overlook, this excellent trail travels to the top of a rather pointy mountain, where a spectacular 360 degree view awaits. It is moderately steep, quite rocky, sometimes wet, and has some log steps as well, but it is well...
  • 0.73mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Snowball Trail

More Difficult
  • From the intersection of Stoney Fork Road and the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area access road in Beetree Gap, the Mountains to Sea Trail climbs past a nice clearing to a junction with the Snowball trail on the right. The Snowball trail slips off the north...
  • 3mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough

Douglas Falls Trail

More Difficult
  • From FS 74, the trail begins as an easy, 0.5 mile route to its spectacular eponymous waterfall - a great family hike. There are a few tricky sections (including one where a fallen tree has exposed some slick bedrock), but overall the route is in...
  • 2.7mi, Climbs Steeply, Moderately Rough

Mountains to Sea Section 3 Trail

Most Difficult
  • **Pisgah Inn to Black Mountain Campground** Pisgah Inn, BRP mp 408.6 to Folk Art Center, BRP mp 382: from the Pisgah Inn to the Mount Pisgah Parking Area, the trail is co-signed as the Buck Spring trail. This leads past the old Buck Spring Lodge...
  • 67.7mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough

Map Information

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Data Formats

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Picnic Area

The Craggy Gardens picnic area offers a mountaintop setting with a good number of tables on a hilly site. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms with flush toilets, water, tables, fire rings, and grills are available at the picnic area in a mixture of open and shady sites. The Craggy Gardens trail starts within the picnic area and the Mountains to Sea Trail runs through it as well, meaning you can start your hike directly from the picnic area.

Visitor Center

The Craggy Gardens visitor center, open from May - October, has some exhibits on the flora, fauna and geology of the area, as well as a small Parkway store with books, maps, and local art. Stop in for a warm-up on a cold day or to sit a spell and look out at the view. Restrooms are available under the visitor center building, but they are not wheelchair-accessible.


Craggy Gardens is located about 15 miles north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway (from the Folk Art Center at US 70). Look for the mileposts to find the most popular stopping points:

  • 367.6 for the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area and trails, and the Snowball trail
  • 364.4 for the Visitor Center and Craggy Gardens trail
  • 364.1 for the Craggy Pinnacle trail (at the Craggy Dome overlook).