View – outstanding views of Montreat, the Seven Sisters ridge (West Ridge) and the Swannanoa Valley from three view spots.
Hike Profile – there are three hike options that you can use to tailor your hike to the desired level of difficulty and length – all have great views.
1. Lookout Rock – this out and back hike is relatively short but has a steep climb at the end. It follows the Lookout Trail from the trailhead to Lookout Rock (two view spots that sit about 200 feet in elevation below the summit of Lookout Mountain). The descent can be difficult because of the steepness so you may want to consider the second option which offers a much more moderate descent.
2. Lookout Mountain Loop – this is a “lollipop” hike that follows the Lookout Trail to the view spots at Lookout Rock and then on to the summit of Lookout Mountain. The descent starts with the Hickory Ridge trail down to the Old Mitchell Toll Road then to the Old Trestle Road and back down the Lookout Trail. This option provides a much more moderate descent at the expense of a somewhat longer hike.
3. Lookout – Rattlesnake Loop – this a “lollipop” hike similar to option 2 but adds the short out and back hike to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain for another great view spot. Shortly after descending on the Old Mitchell Toll Road from Lookout Mountain summit via the Hickory Ridge Trail, you will see the Rattlesnake Mountain trail branch off to the left. It is marked with a sign board.
Trail Surface – mostly a dry forest trail but the ascent of the Lookout and Rattlesnake summits does involve climbing over exposed rock faces.
Environment – the trail passes through a forest of hardwood trees, rhododendron and mountain laurel. Pine trees occur on the summits.
Navigation – the Lookout Trail ends at the summit of Lookout Mountain where it intersects two trails. To the left is the East Ridge Trail and to the right is the Hickory Ridge trail. Take a right onto the Hickory Ridge Trail and make the short descent to the Old Mitchell Toll Road.
Directions to Trailhead – take Montreat Road north from Black Mountain. The road becomes Assembly Drive after passing through the Montreat Gate. Turn right onto Lookout Road about a mile beyond the Gate. Trailhead parking is on the right after passing Arkansas Road and a maintenance shed. The trailhead is marked with a large sign board.