If you follow the last few posts you will see I am always pushing west towards higher mountains. I love Mountains. Mt Jefferson began to push the limits of how far I could go, hike and get back home at a reasonable hour. it was 3 hours one way. Mt. Jefferson became one of my favorites. Although not a lot of hiking about 5 miles on two main trails, the views are some of the best in North Carolina.
Mt Jefferson is a State Natural Area so it doesn’t have a big visitor center like a regular state park. At the bottom was an office and a small parking lot. This is another mountain that you can drive almost to the top. At 4683 feet this was the highest mountain I had been on since I was a kid. The parking lot isn’t at the actual top. The Summit and Rhododendron Trails complete the trip to Luther Rock a sub peak of the mountain. Then you hike down the mountain and back up. Strange set up but if you want to climb Mt Jefferson it’s the best way.
The hike to the true top are on the trails known as the Summit Trail and the Rhododendron Trail. These trails take you to the first of the day’s overlooks at Luther Rock.
Up and over Luther Rock and I was awed by the gorgeous valley of Little Naked Creek.
” I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and to exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice I don’t know what is'”.Kurt Vonnegut
I left the summit and found the Mountain Ridge Trail which was going to take me down 1600 feet to the bottom of the mountain. The trail and a spur take you to several outstanding overlooks. I next stopped off at the Jefferson Overlook.
Wow! I continued down the mountain to a spur trail. This would take me to the next overlook and add nearly a mile to my trek. I came out at the Sunset overlook which of course looks west off Mt Jefferson.
There were some picnic tables at this overlook so I thought, “what a nice spot for lunch”. So as always I found a great view and sat and enjoyed it for fifteen or twenty minutes. Time to move on. I went back the spur trail to the Mountain Ridge Trail to continue my descent. Next stop is the Sunrise Overlook which of course looks east off the mountain.
After spending a few minutes here I headed on down the mountain to the Natural Area Office. Once there I turned around and retraced my steps to the upper parking area and a long ride home.
A couple weeks later I came back to Mt. Jefferson with Nate. While there we watched the ending of a marathon race; sort of. The race actually ended in West Jefferson but those who decided to run up the mountain, 1600 feet in elevation gain over 2 miles, were awarded extra.