Have you hiked the Bearwallow Mountain Trail? This easy trail in Hendersonville, NC lends itself to incredible, 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here’s everything you need to know about the hike, plus some cool things to do nearby Bearwallow Mountain!
In the 10 years (or thereabouts) that we’ve lived in Greenville, we’ve yet to exhaust the list of hiking trails within an hour’s drive from the city. Not only are we constantly discovering new areas through friends and various groups, but trails are being established in newly-established conservancies and preserves through the efforts of groups like Conserving Carolina. One of our favorite late spring/early summer hikes is a comparatively new trail that leads to the summit of Bearwallow Mountain.
About Bearwallow Mountain
Hendersonville-based Conserving Carolina acquired a conservation easement on the summit of Bearwallow in 2009, adding close to 400 more acres between the summit and trailhead in recent years. At 4,232 ft. this is the highest peak in the Bearwallow Highlands range that straddles the Eastern Continental Divide. The mountain is part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and the western rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge, and views from the summit extend to Mt. Mitchell in the Black Mountains and Mt. Pisgah in the Great Balsams.
Conserving Carolina constructed the Bearwallow Mountain trail with the help of the Carolina Mountain Club, REI and community volunteers, and the hope is that eventually it will be incorporated into a 15-mile Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Trail, a loop that will link Bearwallow Mountain to CMLC’s Florence Preserve and the summit of Ferguson Peak. You can follow the progress of the trails in this area on the Conserving Carolina website.
On a recent warm summer day we took Poinsett Highway out of Greenville and then turned onto I-25 to cross into North Carolina. I had a momentary lapse of memory and thought I had forgotten our lunch on the counter, justifying a stop at one of the many stands by the side of the road to buy a bucket of freshly-picked strawberries. In another couple of months it’ll be peaches and apples… can’t wait! After jumping on I-26 towards Hendersonville, we took exit 49A for US Hwy. 64 east.
For further instructions see the Conserving Carolina website, but be aware that there’s a fork in the road that intuitively leads you off on N Bearwallow Rd. when you want to stay on Bearwallow Mountain Road.
Hiking up to Bearwallow Mountain Summit
The Bearwallow Mountain trailhead is at the crest of Bearwallow Mountain Rd. (Bearwallow Gap) where the pavement turns to gravel (the gravel road continues on over 2 miles to the town of Gerton, NC). Parking is along the shoulder, and the trail begins beyond the old, rusted gate. You’ll see the trail kiosk on the right, marking the beginning of the one-mile ascent up to the summit. The gravel service road that heads off to the left meets the trail at the summit and continues on to the historic fire tower and telephone towers. You can take either way to the summit.
If you take the trail, be prepared for switchbacks and rocky stairs almost the entire way. Rhododendron and trillium distracted us from the somewhat steep climb, but poison ivy kept us on the trail. As we neared the top we passed several rocky outcrops, before emerging into a grassy meadow which has nearly a 360-degree view of the surrounding states.
The gravel road is also a hike up but wide and easy, especially if you’ve got smaller kids. Dogs are allowed on the trail but they must be on leash.
The panoramic views up here are incredible. I love taking a picnic and hanging out at the top while just taking in all the beauty. Bearwallow Mountain is perfect for sunrise or sunset, just be sure to bring a headlamp.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the grazing cows at the top but please just let them graze and don’t go up and try to cuddle with them. Even if you don’t see the cows, you’ll definitely see the cow patties so just watch your step.
Nearby Things to Do
There are several nearby activities if you want to make a day trip. We have an entire story on the Hendersonville area, which you’ll want to check out, but here are just a few of my favorites depending on what time of year you hike Bearwallow Mountain.
Spring & Summer
Nearby Lake Lure has a great beach to hang out at. You can swim or rent a kayak or paddleboard and check out the lake.
Next to the beach is the free Flowering Bridge, which is gorgeous! They have all types of flowers and I think spring and summer have the most beautiful ones.
Chimney Rock next to Lake Lure has an adorable village that my kids and I love to walk around at. There’s a great place next to Chimney Rock State Park to get ice cream and you can go gem mining.
During the summer months, people really love the free Fairy Trail at Bullington Gardens. There are little fair houses and trolls to find along the short path.
Late summer and fall is apple picking season and there are plenty of places to go within 20 minutes or so fo Bearwallow Mountain.
If you love apple cider donuts, then don’t miss our Apple Cider Donut tour near Hendersonville.
I think Chimney Rock State Park is best viewed during the fall because of the incredible fall colors (but really, that park is awesome anytime of year).
Did you know there’s a llama farm that you can visit most times of the year where you can hike with llamas or run with them through obstacle courses? Do not miss Ellaberry Llama Farm. It will make you happy for months after!
Go snow tubing at Black Bear Snow Tubing, right around the corner from Bearwallow Mountain. They’ve got a great lodge to get hot chocolate at as well.
Moonshine Mountain is also another fun spot to go snow tubing. Just get there early since they don’t take reservations.
Has your family explored Bearwallow Mountain yet?
I was married there at the Lodge! It burned down last year.