Help the Sierra Club welcome in Winter with this mile-high hike! At 8am on Saturday, December 14th, we will visit Elk Knob State Park outside Todd, NC (close to Boone) to hike up to the summit of Elk Knob. At 5,520 feet, the Elk Knob summit is over a mile high, and higher than the swinging bridge on Grandfather Mountain. To reach the top, we will take the improved, graded Summit Trail, which climbs gradually in a way that makes this a moderately-strenuous hike despite 1,000 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead to the mountaintop. The graded foot path is covered with an easy-to-walk gravel foot tread. Because of the high quality of the trail, this hike should be appropriate for active, healthy adults and families. The hike extends for 2 miles up, then 2 miles back down, for a total distance of 4 miles.
Elk Knob is one of North Carolina’s two newest state parks, both located in the High Country (the other is Grandfather Mountain). On a clear day, views from the summit extend out for 60 miles. Familiar mountains that are visible from the summit include Roan Mountain, Mount Mitchell (the tallest mountain East of the Mississippi River), Beech Mountain, and Grandfather Mountain. Because the Elk Knob summit is so high and exposed, it is often buffeted by fierce winds and harsh weather conditions including low temperatures. Hikers will notice that the trees growing on the northern slopes and on the summit of Elk Knob are gnarled and stunted by the tough environment on top of the mountain.
In cooler seasons, and due to the high altitude, the weather on top of Elk Knob may be significantly windier and colder than the weather in the Piedmont Triad. Because the weather can be so unpredictable at the summit, and because very cold and windy conditions may exist, please dress warmly, and in layers, as you might dress for a day of snow skiing. The outer layer should be a windproof and waterproof jacket. Also bring a warm hat and warm gloves or mittens, wear appropriate closed-toe hiking boots or sturdy tennis shoes, and bring water and a snack.
On the return trip back to the Piedmont Triad, we will stop and have a late lunch of Mexican food. Because space is limited, please register for the hike before December 14th. To register (free), contact Vance Parker via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone before 10:00 p.m. at (336) 768-0481. All participants on Sierra Club outings are required to sign a standard liability waiver. Prospective participants under the age of 18 will require a signature from a parent or guardian.