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Craggy Gardens: A Beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway Stop

Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on October 17, 2023.

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Craggy Gardens sits just off the majestic Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 364-367), providing folks driving through a chance to stop, rest, and take in its beauty. It’s one of our favorite hikes in North Carolina and is high on the list of favorites near Asheville. That’s why we think it’d be perfect for a quick day trip.

Many of the Parkway’s finest views of the Blue Ridge Mountains can be found here, and we’re going to show you what we’ve found after visiting.

This post has everything you need to know about Craggy Gardens, including how to get there, what to see, and some interesting facts about the pit stop!

Read More: Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes

Craggy Gardens, North Carolina

Craggy Gardens in North Carolina is one of the most beautiful stops on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

Not only is it a super easy hike, but there are some fun places to spend time around Craggy Gardens. You can check out the Visitor’s Center, take a walk to the Craggy Garden Gazebo, or pack some food and have lunch at the designated picnic area.

Fun Facts about Craggy Gardens

“The backside of the mountain is a fight against human nature,’ he said. ‘You have to care as much about yourself on the way down as you did on the way ups’ ― Mitch Albom, For One More Day

Craggy Gardens makes up a small part of the Great Craggy Mountains, a sub-range of the Blue Ridge Mountains. “Craggy” comes from the twisted, jagged rock faces found throughout, and the area’s highest peak is Craggy Dome (6,105 ft).

Bullhead Mountain (5,819 ft) comes in second, with Craggy Gardens (5,525 ft) and Craggy Pinnacle (5,817 ft) running third and fourth. 

Read More: 100+ Wonderful Places to Visit in Western North Carolina

Getting to Craggy Gardens

Craggy Gardens Visitor Center Image
If you’re coming in on a nice day, it’s tempting to stop at a few overlooks along the way, and that’s okay.

If you are travelling from downtown Asheville to Craggy Gardens (which is the closest city), you can expect a 40-minute drive. It’s approximately 18 miles from the Folk Art Center.

If you’re visiting during winter, keep in mind that this section of the Parkway closes often due to weather and ice.

You can find free parking spots are available along the picnic area or at the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center.

Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina

The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center

The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center sits between the Craggy Gardens and Craggy Pinnacle trails and is open during the warmer months.

More info can be found on the official webpage. Inside the visitor’s center, you’ll find a few different maps of the area, as well as interesting exhibits, various parks-related souvenirs, and some gear (in case you forget your water bottle at home). 

Read More: 80+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (The Asheville Bucket List)

Craggy Gardens Hiking Trails

There are more than a few Craggy Gardens hikes, including a portion of the ubiquitous Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Here’s a breakdown of each of the most popular trails so you can decide which one to choose. 

Craggy Gardens Trail

Craggy Gardens Trail Tree Image

Craggy Gardens Trail (1.9 miles roundtrip) will take you through tree-covered, rhododendron-filled paths. It runs into the more strenuous Douglas Falls trail shortly after you start.

There’s a picnic area at the end, which is a nice spot for a snack before turning back. 

This is the most popular Craggy Gardens hike, and since most people only stop for an hour or two, it’s usually the only trail they get around to hiking.

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Douglas Falls Trail

As we mentioned, Craggy Gardens Trail meets Douglas Falls Trail, which is part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It’s an 8-mile roundtrip hike that leads you through a hardwood forest to the 70-foot Douglas Creek Falls.

This is the best waterfall hike that starts at Craggy Gardens, so if you love waterfalls and don’t mind spending a few hours hiking, this is the best choice!

FYI: This trail is sometimes called Carter Creek Falls Trails.

Read More: The Asheville Art Museum (How to Visit + 7 Great Things to Do)

Snowball Mountain Trail

You can reach the 8-mile roundtrip Snowball Mountain Trail via the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, too. This ridge hike leads to beautiful valley views and a former fire tower.

It’s a more strenuous hike, so only do this one if you are an experienced hiker.

Also, be aware that poison ivy and stinging nettle have been reported throughout some of the narrow portions of the trail, so we highly encourage you to wear longer pants if you choose this hike.

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

Craggy Pinnacle Trail

Blue Ridge Parkway NC Travel Image

I consider Craggy Pinnacle Trail more of a drive than a hike, although you will need to walk up a steep set of stairs from the parking lot to reach the top.

And honestly, the view from the top is such a steal for that short of a walk. If you’re short of time, this is definitely the best view without a long hike.

Everyone raves about June and the Catawba Rhododendrons but looking over the Blue Ridge Parkway and seeing those mountains in the distance is fine enough for me!

Wrap-Up: Visiting Craggy Gardens

Unless you’re waiting for spring to come, what’s keeping you from visiting Craggy Gardens?

We’ve seen the Blue Ridge Mountains from top to bottom, and this is one of our favorite spots, especially during when the iconic rhododendrons flowers are in bloom.

But honestly, I could go back to this area any time of year. It’s truly one of the most beautiful parts of North Carolina, and hopefully, you get at least one chance to visit. 

Have you ever driven on this part of the Blue Ridge Parkway? What did you think of it? Would you come back?

We’d love to know in the comments section! 

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