This past Saturday we hiked to Pickens Nose in North Carolina. The hike departs from the trailhead along the gravel-paved Forestry Road 83 (view maps and driving directions), southeast of where the Appalachian Trail crosses FR83 at Mooney Gap. The trail wanders southbound, climbing up through a hardwood forest filled with gnarly-branched rhododendron and mountain laurel. It’s a moderate, but unrelenting, climb to the mountain’s summit.
The 1.4 mile lightly traveled in and out trail is located near Otto, North Carolina and features beautiful wild flowers and great views. While the trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching, we noticed a few rock climbers were present. It’s best used from April until October because the Forestry Service closes it on January 1, and doesn’t reopen it until the first of April.
The trail summits its namesake peak after departing from a trailhead near the Appalachian Trail at Mooney Gap. The views are stunning and a perfect place for photography and taking time to stop, sit, and enjoy the day. It’s a moderate hike, spanning only .75 mile each way. So, it’s short and perfect for a late day get-away.
It’s also very scenic. You hike through dense thickets of rhododendron to multiple view-packed overlooks on the rocky summit. Honestly, it reminds me a little of Yellow Face Mountain—only smaller and a shorter trail.
On the way up, we noticed the trail meanders through a couple wide switchbacks—reaching the first of several spur trails at .25 miles. At the top, the trail turns left following a side trail to a broad rock outcrop with sweeping eastbound views.
We loved this hike because after a busy morning, it was only a short drive away but it reminded us of our beloved mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sadly, we noticed evidence left after the forest fires from a couple of years ago. Many of the trees, still have charred trunks and limbs.
The mountain’s sun-drenched summit begged us to stop and breath deep. Views of Ridgepole Mountain open to the southwest. Southward, views extend into Georgia, with Georgia’s Black Rock Mountain far on the horizon.
After catching some summit solitude, we headed down retracing our steps to the trailhead. Altogether, we only hiked 1.5 miles. We’ll remember this one and return for a picnic or a golden hour moment with the cameras!
This tiny little blue flower caught my camera’s eye: so sweet! Every spring, I become a “fool” for wild flowers. This is probably why I’m pushing to get back to Max Patch as soon as possible. I want to see/photograph the fields before the flowers are gone.
And I’m crazy for rhododendrons. This mountain was covered with them and we quickly realized that we were hiking in rhododendron thickets.
Narrow pathways outlined with Mountain Laurel lead to rocky opens and brilliant views of the surrounding mountains.
Here’s Pat—stunning scenery, fantastic views, and a moderately short distance trail.
Several pathways lead to rocky opens that are perfect places to view sunsets. I won’t mention that it is in “bear country.” This is one of the reasons, this hike reminded me a little of Yellow Face. It’s remote and signs (now removed by hikers) talk about being aware of bear activity.
Rhododendron trees close to the overlooks have been shaped by dramatic weather and wind.
Like I have written, most of the hike is through a beautiful rhododendron covered tunnel trail. I just had to stop and photograph several of these. Sorry, for the repeat!
The Native Yellow or Orange Azalea. Just stunning.
Mountain Laurel still blooming and so sweet.
More rhododendron thickets that were just fun to hike through. I’ll go back to this area in the fall because I know the colors will be beautiful.
Rising high from the surrounding valleys in the Standing Indian Basin, Pickens Nose’s rocky summit has the angle of an angular bird beak. The mountain’s multiple overlooks offer sweeping views of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness—a perfect place to soak up some sun.
Later, we made the drive and a stop at the food truck in the parking lot for Lazy Hiker in Franklin. This when we noticed that our feet were a “good looking” mess. I loved feeling the dust filter through my toes and would wear my Chacos again in a minute. But remember, since the end of Chemo last year, I have found myself loving the strangest things. I enjoyed this day so much that I’m thinking about wearing them when I climb Tennent Mountain.
Obviously, we were where many of the AT Thru Hikers have dinner and more!