Craggy Dome: Drive to Trailhead & Trail Guide

Drive Guide - Craggy Dome From Atlanta

NOTE: I’ve decided this is such a miserable hike and an ovegrown summit that after activating it twice, I’m not going to activate it again – even for 10 points and even to make a triple-header possible. It isn’t any fun.

  • Duration: 217 miles, 4:15. (Google says 3:45; it took me 4:10 in 2014.)
  • Google Maps URL from Ashford Dunwoody Rd and I-285 at 33.91998, -84.33898: http://goo.gl/maps/FU9qS
  • Seasonal/Limited Access: Blue Ridge Parkway closes in bad weather. Check the BRP Closure Map. In Spring 2015, this was one of the last sections to open.
  • Directions:
    • I-285 E
    • I-85 N and go 124
    • I-185 N at Greeneville SC and go 1.5
    • L on US-25 N and go 8.9
    • Bear R on US-25 N and go 29.3
    • Merge to I-26 N and go 16.8
    • R on NE-146 E (exit 37) and go 1.8
    • L on US-25 N and go 2.4
    • R onto Blue Ridge Pky ramp
    • R onto Blue Ridge Pky and go 25.3 - MM 363.4
      • Past Craggy Gardens visitor center on L. (Restrooms here)
      • Park in small, unlined lot on R at Bullhead Gap (1.1 past visitor center)
  • Food
    • Last McDonalds: Just after L on US-25. (Gas/food/Ingles with car wash/Walmart.)
    • Penultimate McDonalds: 146 E (exit 37) - mini-McDonalds at gas station

Drive Guide - Craggy Dome From Rice Knob

  • Duration: 0:30, 13.9 miles
  • Directions:
    • Downhill on Elk Trail and go 0.3
    • Double right-turn onto Elk Mountain Scenic Hwy and go 1.0
    • R on Elk Mountain Scenic Hwy and go 0.3
    • L on BRP and go 12.3
      • Past Craggy Gardens visitor center on L. (Restrooms here)
      • Park in small, unlined lot on R at Bullhead Gap (1.1 past visitor center)

Trail Guide

  • Duration: 0.5 miles, 0:35 up, 0:35 down (2014.09.20); 0:50 UP, 0:40 down (2015.07.11)
  • Navigation
    • Bring a jacket in the summer: On July 11, 2015 at 10 A.M. the weather was 59 degrees, windy, with dense fog.
    • It is an intense climb due to overgrown trail with steep spots; for large parts of the trail, you can’t see where you are putting your feet.
    • Walk 85 yards on parkway toward the Craggy Gardens visitor center on left shoulder of road
    • At MST post on left, turn L onto Mountains to Sea Trail.
    • At 12 yards, see large boulder on R. In 6 more yards, depart trail to R.
    • Bushwhack about 5 minutes to find manway.
    • Manway is overgrown (in mid-September 2014).
    • You will need to find the manway before reaching dense laurel, in order to make it through.
  • Parking: 5590’ @ 35.71083,-82.36422
  • Summit altitude: 6100 ‘ @ 35.706, -82.3667
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:
    • MST post: 35.71009,-82.36489
    • Leave MST: 35.71008,-82.36472

Summit Guide

  • Miserable. There is no real space to operate on the summit. There is a too-small rock in the middle of the trail, which is the only ‘clearing’ you can sit in, and there’s not enough room for all my stuff.
  • Hang antenna from tree: No. Dense mountain laurel on summit.
  • Space to guy mast: No, but you can bungee it to the mountain laurel.
  • Cell coverage: 2014: ATT=no; VZN=marginal; APRS=yes. In July 2015, my VZN phone got out 3 of 5 SMS attempts.