A Family Hike on Hawksbill Trail, Linville Gorge

Ever have one of those moments when you just need to get away? That struck us last week. Luckily for us, North Carolina is packed with incredible views, hikes, and mountain escapes. Despite living here for 10 years, there are still so many we want to explore and on Saturday we checked another spot off our list, Hawksbill Trail!

Please disregard the three fake smiles in the above picture. We had excited kids that didn’t want to stop and pose…

We chose Hawksbill Trail because it promised panoramic views of Linville Gorge, one of our favorites areas in the North Carolina mountains. It’s just over a two hours drive from Charlotte and the hike takes you to the peak of Hawksbill Mountain (elevation 4,009 ft). Be warned though, the drive to the trailhead is about 1-2 miles of very bumpy, unpaved road, so don’t drive a low clearance car to get there.

We lucked out with a crisp, fall day so t-shirts and leggings with puffer jackets worked perfectly. These kid puffer jackets are great because they are light weight and warm, but thin enough to easily stuff into a backpack when not needed.

Hawksbill Trail begins meandering through the woods quite easily, then slowly increases in difficulty as the elevation rises. Near the end it is quite stair-like, which ended up being a challenge the girls really enjoyed.

It’s an entertaining trail with boulders to climb under, a tiny creak to pass over, and beautiful terrain that gives you small glimpses of the views as you work your way up the mountain. The views at the top do not disappoint! Make sure you take the small turn to the right as well as the more obvious turn to the left at the top to get the most out of the views.

From the summit you can see all the way to the valley floor, including Linville River. The layers of mountains were breathtaking and there is so much room to wander through paths and climb out onto different rocky fronts, so leave plenty of time to explore once you reach the top. We probably spent a solid hour at the summit between having snacks, oogling the views, and letting the girls explore every “secret path” nook and cranny.

It blew my mind how far the views were from the top of Hawksbill Trail. You could see Grandfather Mountain to the north and Mt. Mitchell to the Southwest, and even see parts of Lake James, too. We wandered the top for quite some time before heading back, so while the trail states to be a 1.5 mile round trip, my Garmin’s GPS, said we covered just over 3 miles total.

Once we returned the our car and took the bumpy, windy road out, we were hungry, so we drove north to Blowing Rock in search of food. Blowing Rock has the best playground in the middle of town; it’s huge and has so many unique features- just look at that slide! While the temperatures were chilly, it made for the perfect spot for the kids to run off their extra energy.

We online ordered from Mellow Mushroom (a short walk from the playground) and set up a picnic dinner to end the most beautiful mountain day. 

Am I a complete broken record if I say it’s been quite a strange and hard year? Yes, I am. But this quick jaunt to the mountains filled us back up with hope and excitement for more family adventures to come.

Looking for other great North Carolina trails for families? Check these out!

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