Last Updated on March 18, 2023
Last Updated on March 18, 2023
Devil’s Courthouse is a mountain, a Blue Ridge Parkway landmark, and a hiking trail in Western North Carolina. You can see it from the nearby Devil’s Courthouse Overlook (Milepost 422.4), but you can also reach the top of this mountain after a short hike.
The views from Devil’s Courthouse are completely worth any strain on your legs and body. In fact, we rate this among the best Blue Ridge Parkway hikes, thanks to those epic views of the surrounding mountains of North Carolina and neighboring states.
This guide touches more upon the hike, those gorgeous panoramas, and an interesting legend about why it’s named Devil’s Courthouse. We also share a few nearby attractions and how you can reach this mountain from Asheville and a couple of neighboring mountain towns.
Our guide to this Blue Ridge Parkway hike is divided into the sections below:
- Why Do They Call It Devil’s Courthouse?
- Where is Devil’s Courthouse? (Driving Directions)
- Leave No Trace
- The Devil’s Courthouse Hike
- Nearby Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes (and Attractions)
Read More: 75+ Great Hikes Near Asheville (Within a 2-Hour Drive)
Why Do They Call It Devil’s Courthouse?
There are a few legends that explain why this mountain is called “Devil’s Courthouse.”
- The bare rock at the top of this mountain has long been known for its “devilish” look from a distance.
- The “courthouse” part of the name, comes from a cave within the mountain. A general description is that the devil holds court here.
- More specifically, the legend refers to Judaculla, an ancient Cherokee spirit being and giant. He ruled the traditional Cherokee homeland in Western North Carolina, held court in the cave, and used it as a private dancehall.
Read More: 125+ Interesting Facts About North Carolina
Where is Devil’s Courthouse? (Driving Directions)
Devil’s Courthouse is in Transylvania County and at the western edge of Pisgah National Forest. The mountain is reachable via the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 422).
This section of the Parkway is subject to closures during winter and icy conditions, so please check ahead before visiting. The trail that leads up can be covered in snow and ice, in case you’re accessing from a connector trail.
- Asheville is about an hour away (25 miles) and the fastest route starts the Parkway from the North Carolina Arboretum (MP 393.6). You’ll pass the Devil’s Courthouse Tunnel just before reaching the Devil’s Courthouse Overlook and parking area.
- The small towns of Brevard and Waynesville are each 40 minutes away to the southeast and north, respectively. You’ll arrive from the opposite direction, and the majority of your trip from either town requires driving on the beautiful and windy Forest Heritage Scenic Byway.
You can visually plan your trip through this area via our Western North Carolina Map and our North Carolina Travel Map.
Read More: 75+ Fun Day Trips from Asheville (Within a 2-Hour Drive)
Leave No Trace
While hiking Devil’s Courthouse, we ask you to PLEASE leave no trace. This means a few things, including:
- As we mentioned, stay on the designated trail. Devil’s Courthouse is home to rare plants and a Peregrine Falcon nesting area at the top.
- Climbing is prohibited, as indicated by signs along the way. Please respect the signs and the fragile ecology that surrounds this trail.
- Pack in, pack out, and please do not litter.
- If you’d like to lend a helping hand, bring a grocery bag of your own and pick up any trash that you see!
Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)
The Devil’s Courthouse Hike
The Devil’s Courthouse hike is a half-mile one way. While it’s a short hike, we rate it as a moderate to strenuous trail.
- Start the hike from the Devil’s Courthouse Overlook. A paved walkway will take you along the Blue Ridge Parkway for a short distance before veering away from the road.
- The hike continues on a paved section, which is also the steepest. You’ll be surrounded by a beautiful forest. You’ll also notice benches along the way, which come in handy if you need to stop and catch your breath.
- The paved trail ends about a quarter of a mile into the hike, veering to the right. If you follow the unpaved trail to the left, you’ll be on the Mountains to Sea Trail toward Black Balsam Knob.
- A mix of stone steps and natural surfaces dominate the remainder of the hike.
- The climb begins decreasing in difficulty as it transitions to natural surfaces.
- You’ll reach the top of Devil’s Courthouse trail after a less-steep quarter of a mile.
- From the peak, you can enjoy panoramic views of four states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.
- There are three informational markers that point out the names of mountains nearby and in the distance.
- If the peak is not too crowded, there will be plenty of space to sit down at the top and enjoy a picnic with the views.
- Weekends are especially busy here, so try for a mid-week visit and you will have fewer crowds to contend with.
- It’s hard to leave the top of this beautiful mountain. The hike back down retraces your ascent, reuniting with the paved trail and leading back to the Devil’s Courthouse Overlook parking lot.
We love this hike and think you will, too! If you’re familiar with Devil’s Courthouse and this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, we’d love to hear from you.
Tell us all about your experiences here in the comments section or by email. Don’t forget to share your adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!
Read More: 100+ of the Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina
Nearby Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes (and Attractions)
Devil’s Courthouse is in a sweet spot, surrounded by multiple iconic Western NC attractions. Here are a few nearby:
- Black Balsam Knob (420.2): This Blue Ridge Parkway hike leads to epic views of mountain balds, which remain a scientific mystery today. The Black Balsam Knob hike is only 1.4 miles roundtrip but can be extended, as it’s also part of the famed Art Loeb Trail.
- Graveyard Fields (MP 418.8): The “graveyard” moniker refers to the mound of tree stumps left here after a massive windstorm in the past and the vast empty spaces caused by a devastating fire in 1925. From the Graveyard Fields parking lot, you can take two hikes that both end with waterfalls. Lower Falls is the easiest to reach and one of our favorite kid-friendly waterfalls in NC!
Read More: Map of Waterfalls in Western NC
- Skinny Dip Falls (MP 417): This was once a very popular swimming hole, especially in the hot summer months. You can still follow a short and easy hiking trail (0.75 miles) that starts across the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Looking Glass Rock Overlook. Skinny Dip Falls was severely damaged by Tropical Storm Fred in 2021. It does look different now than what is currently depicted in these photos and we hope to return soon to update them.
- Forest Heritage Scenic Byway: The NC-215 portion of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway is closest to Devil’s Courthouse, though you can drive about 20 minutes north to the US-276 section. The NC-215 side is where you’ll find French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals Falls) and Bird Rock Falls (aka Cathedral Falls). The US-276 section of this scenic road runs past some more of NC’s best waterfalls, including Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls, just before Sliding Rock.
- Waterfall Byway: Speaking of waterfalls, the Waterfall Byway is about 30 minutes away from Devil’s Courthouse, accessed via NC-215. This road largely follows US-64 between Rosman and Murphy, with roughly 200 waterfalls along the way. Along the way are the towns of Cashiers, Highlands, and Franklin. Toxaway Falls, Bridal Veil Falls (not the one inside DuPont State Forest), and Dry Falls are just a few of the amazing waterfalls that await along this road.
Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina (The NC Bucket List)