Trail Finder: Elk Knob Summit Trail
Our friends at Mast General Store in Boone, North Carolina, know their trails inside and out. Here’s where they recommend you go for a classic, lung-busting out-and-back filled with wildflowers and views. And while you’re in the area, stop by.
They’ve got tons of Oboz and other sundries, and they’re really nice. Links to Mast General Store website and social channels below.
Trail Name: Summit Trail at Elk Knob State Park
Trailhead: Take Highway 194 North 4.3 miles, turn left on Meat Camp Road, 5.4 miles. Park is on right.
Trail type: Out-and-Back Trail
Distance: 1.9 miles (3.8 miles total)
Duration: 2 hours
Recommended Oboz: Either the Yellowstone Mid (if you need ankle support) or the Sawtooth Low. They deliver a soft, yet responsive hike for a day out in the Appalachians. (Order online here or stop by Mast General Store to try them out).
Trail Description: Over the course of the 1.9 miles, you’ll gain 1,000 feet in elevation. From the parking lot, the trail is relatively narrow and gains elevation quickly. It is constructed through the understory of a hardwood forest and many wildflowers can be observed along the way.Parts of the trail are like walking on a garden path of flagstones (a very steep garden <wink>) and others, during a rainy period may become a part of a creek bed when springs become a bit more active. At the summit, 5,520 feet above sea level, you can observe other mountains of note including Grandfather Mountain, Mt. Mitchell, Roan Mountain, Mt. Rogers, and Pilot Mountain.
Trail Highlights: When you hit the trail, the first thing you’ll notice is what isn’t there. Many of the trails in the Boone area are surrounded by rhododendron ‘hells’. The geology of Elk Knob doesn’t have the pH to support rhodos. What you will see are numerous wildflowers like the Solomon Seal, False Solomon Seal, Jack in the Pulpit, Yellow Corn Lily, and Wake Robins. Around the midway point, there’s a nice photo opportunity featuring the ridgeline and a couple of large clearings. At the top, you can see three states. Be sure to slow down enough to listen to the many species of birds.Best time to Go: This trail is a pleasure to hike any time of year – spring for wildflowers, summer to escape the heat, fall to see the colors rippling into the distance, and winter on snowshoes.
What to Pack: Small daypack with either a hydration reservoir or water bottle. Be sure to pack a snack to enjoy while gazing at the views on top. The temperature and weather can change quickly, so we suggest keeping a light fleece and a rain jacket with you just in case. Of course, you’ll want to take your camera to capture your adventure.
Level of Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
Refuel (Post-hike watering hole): Appalachian Mountain Brewery, located at 163 Boone Creek Drive, has a philosophy that not only results in good beer, but also gives back to the local community. From pale ales to stouts, and now ciders, there’s something to please every beer-lover’s palate. Tasty food is served up by the Farm2Flame food truck, which sources a lot of its menu offerings from local farms.
Mast General Store Info
Address: 630 West King Street, Boone, NC 28607