Mount Jefferson State Park in North Carolina is west of the Blue Ridge Parkway near the city of West Jefferson.
There are two options to get to the top of Mount Jefferson.
- Park your car at the Park Office and hike up Mountain Ridge Trail (two miles, strenuous), stopping to see the Sunrise overlook and Jefferson Overlook on the way.
- Drive up up the mountain, passing all three overlooks: Sunset, Sunrise, and Jefferson. Each overlook provides a lovely view with limited parking. (As a point of interest, GPS tried to tell me that Sunset overlook was the park destination. You have been warned.)
Both options will take you to the parking area where you will find picnic tables, water, and restrooms.
Mount Jefferson is an easy day trip for us, but it was our first visit. We had plans for lunch in West Jefferson and a stop at Ashe County Cheese (worth the stop if you have the time), so we drove to the top. Once there, we took the Summit Trail to the Rhododendron Trail and then cut to Luther Rock. At eight a.m. the trail wasn’t yet hot and the mist covered sections of the valley. It was breathtaking. Rock outcroppings were plentiful on the trail, so we found a rock and sat for a while, enjoying the silence and nature. We did meet a couple of people on the trail, but as it was midweek, we were able stop and enjoy the view without blocking anyone or feeling crowded.
We returned to the parking area via the bottom loop past Lost Province Trail. While the loop lacked the top-of-the-world views, it provided an enjoyable walk through the woods with some interesting mushrooms and lichen.
In all, we did a little over two miles. Not a long hike, but it was a fun outing and the views were amazing. You can get a solid six miles if you hike up from the Park Office, hike the mountain top loop, and hike back down. All in all, a nice morning in the mountains.