View – the summit of Hawksbill Mountain features spectacular unobstructed 180 degree views of the Linville Gorge. Looking south down the gorge, you can see the Chimneys, Shortoff Mountain and Table Rock Mountain. Looking north you can see all the way to Grandfather Mountain. The summit also has a stand of Table Mountain pine trees which only grow in the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains.
Hike Profile – an out and back hike that follows the Hawksbill Mountain trail to the summit view spot. The trail has been recently re-routed and is now an easier, moderate climb with many switchbacks. The last little bit of the climb is back on the old trail and that short section is rocky and steep in spots.
Trail Surface – an easy walking dirt and loose rock trail on the lower section. The middle section goes through rhododendrons so the surface has some exposed roots and some muddy spots. The last section before the summit is rocky with some rock scrambles. The summit is a large area of exposed rock that allows unobstructed views.
Environment – the hike is basically a forest hike that goes through a section of rhododendron.
Navigation – the Hawksbill Mountain trail has been recently re-routed so the trail ascends through a series of switchbacks inside of straight up the side. When you climb the steps to the trailhead from the road, the old trailhead was on the right and proceeded up the mountain. This trail is now partially blocked and the new trail goes straight and actually descends slightly for a short distance before turning to the right and starting up the mountain.
As you near the summit, the new trail forks at an open area. Go left at this point and the new trail then joins the old trail for the climb to the summit.
Directions to Trailhead – from Marion, take SR 221 north towards Linville and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just before reaching the BRP, take a right onto SR 183 and then a right onto SR 181. As you go south on 181, you will see an entrance to the National Forest on the right on Gingercake Road. Continue on SR 181 at this point and take a right onto the next intersection with Gingercake Road (this is the other end of the Gingercake Road). Continue on Gingercake Road until the intersection with Table Rock Road. Take a left onto Table Rock Road. This road starts out paved but soon becomes a typical dirt Forest Service road complete with washboards and potholes but is in generally good condition. The Hawksbill Mountain Trail trailhead is located 3.3 miles from the intersection of Gingercake Road.