8 km away
An epic ridgetop traverse connecting the Blue Ridge Parkway to NC-197.
Difficult Trail Running
- 19 km
- 1 km
- 1 km
A beautiful route across Snowball Mountain, Hawkbill Rock, and the site of a former fire tower.
Trail Running Severe
To begin the run, look for the white-dot-blazed marker denoting the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST). You will find it at the 3-way intersection with Stony Fork Road and the access road to the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area. Follow the MST trail west for 0.1 miles to the intersection with the Snowball Mountain Trail. Around this same area, a clearing serves as a popular spot for a picnic—it's only a short hike from the road.
A steep climb leads to the official summit of Snowball Mountain, just above 5,300 feet. As you approach the summit, look for the rare spruce-fir stands that only occur in a few places in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Beyond the summit, the trail heads to Hawkbill Rock, arguably the most popular destination along the trail. A large, craggy overlook gives way to phenomenal views.
Ahead, the next stretch of trail appears wilder and more remote, as few people continue past the overlook. Singletrack eventually gives way to an old doubletrack before the trail climbs up and over Little Snowball Mountain.
The trail terminates at the site of a former fire tower, the only remnants of which are the concrete anchors in the ground. During the fall and winter, you can snag some partial views from the clearing before turning around and retracing your steps to the trailhead.