One of the first things you’ll notice as you drive the Blue Ridge Parkway toward West Jefferson is arresting Mount Jefferson. Towering more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain landscape, this iconic mountain reaches 4700 feet in elevation. Mount Jefferson is a treasured national natural landmark with a rich history. What better way to discover the rugged natural beauty of the High Country than to take a one on one of the mountain areas five hiking trails that offer a glimpse into the rare geology and plants native to the area. Hiking trails range from a child-friendly TRACK trail to a strenuous scramble along the mountain’s ridgeline. You’ll enjoy incredible scenic vistas and be able to escape the summer heat at the areas picnic grounds with shelter that offer cool temperatures and breezes.
Both the Cherokees and the Shawnees used this area as a hunting ground. The first white settlers in the area came from Virginia, and the mountain is named after Thomas Jefferson and his father, Peter, who owned land in the area and surveyed the nearby North Carolina-Virginia border in 1749. According to legend, “caves” beneath Mount Jefferson’s ledges served as hideouts for escaped slaves traveling to freedom on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.
Choose from trails that require just a little over an hour to hike and you’ll discover the rich beauty and diversity of this mountain forest. Choose from:
Beginning at the parking lot, Summit Trail passes through the picnic ground and climbs 0.3 miles to the highest point on Mount Jefferson. Nearby overlooks create great panoramic views on this easy hike.
Lost Province Trail
This moderate-level trail (.75 miles) takes you through a virgin oak/chestnut forest, with views of false Solomon’s seal and other interesting plant species.
The strenuous (1.1 miles) Rhododendron Trail follows a ridge southeast along the crest of the mountain from the summit to Luther Rock. This black volcanic rock is what’s responsible for giving Mount Jefferson its dark appearance. You’ll be privy to spectacular view of neighboring valleys and peaks.
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area
1481 Mt Jefferson State Park Rd
West Jefferson, NC 28694
8am – sunset
Closed Christmas Day