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Craggy Pinnacle

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Craggy Pinnacle, the third highest peak in the Great Craggy Mountains, is a heath bald summit with sweeping 360-degree views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Parkway landscape – the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center is visible to the south, western vistas include mountains into Tennessee and Pisgah National Forest, and to the north, on a clear day, you can see Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain in North Carolina.

To reach the summit, make your way to the Craggy Dome overlook located at mile post 364.1 along The Blue Ridge Parkway – the Craggy Pinnacle trailhead can be found at this unsigned overlook..

Begin your climb by leaving the parking lot via a short set of stone steps, soon you reach a clearing with an informative kiosk detailing the nuances of a heath bald - a treeless area surrounded by forest on a mountain summit or slope that consists of shrubs such as rhododendron, mountain laurel, and blueberry.

Continue hiking along the trail to the right, passing through rhododendron tunnels, past twisted mountain laurel and dramatic rock outcroppings, until you reach a short, gnarled birch tree that sits perched along the left side of the trail – despite its small stature, this point of interest tree is likely hundreds of years old, its growth stunted by the high elevation winds. .

Two other highlights are found along this portion of the trail – a second birch tree, this one long-ago toppled by the wind but still alive and thriving, now grows parallel to the ground, and further along you pass a crystal-clear, freshwater spring.

Shortly past the spring, you reenter the rhodie thicket – speckled with pink and purple blooms in mid to late June. .

The Craggies are known for their wildflowers, and they are one of most popular destinations for those hoping to catch the peak bloom of the rhododendrons, flame azalea, and mountain laurel – often at their best the third week in June.

Sun-dappled blooms and contorted trees frame your path as you continue towards the summit – eventually, at approximately 0.4 miles, you reach a V-shaped intersection. The path to the right leads to a lower overlook with less encompassing views, stay left to reach the top of Craggy Pinnacle.

At the summit, you’ll have a vast panoramic view of the Appalachians, an astounding payoff for such a short trek – the viewing area features a low stone wall, benches, and three separate platforms, be sure to take in the scenery from each one.

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