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Elk Knob State Park

South View
Elk Knob State Park is a park in Watauga County in the northwestern part of the state near the Tennessee state line, about 10 miles north of Boone.  It is one of the newest additions to North Carolina's state park system.

The land that is now Elk Knob State Park was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 2003 and given to the state to protect the mountain from development.  Elk Knob is the second highest peak in Watauga County at 5,520 feet above sea level.  It is one of several amphibolite peaks in Watauga and Ashe Counties.  The North Fork of the New River, believed to be one of the oldest rivers in the world, has its headwaters in Elk Knob and the surrounding amphibolite peaks. 

Contact Information:
5564 Meat Camp Road
Todd, NC 28684

Phone: (828) 297-7261

Email: elk.knob@ncparks.gov

GPS Coordinates: 36.332586, -81.69064


From US-421 near Boone, take NC-194 north for about 4 miles and turn left on Meat Camp Road.  Follow Meat Camp Road about 5.5 miles and turn right into the park.


Elk Knob State Park


Elk Knob is one of the newer state parks and is still in a state of development.  There are about 6 miles of trails throughout the park.  In the winter, the park attempts to stay open in snowy weather to allow snoeshowing and cross-country skiiing on the trails.  The trailhead is located straight ahead upon entering the park, where a left turn leads to the picnic area.

Backcountry Trail:

Length: 2.0 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Blaze: Orange Diamonds

Backcountry Trail follows an old road down from the trailhead parking, heading steeply down towards the headwaters of North Fork New River.  After crossing the creek, the trail levels off and leads to Mine Branch.  Campsites 1 and 2 are downstream along this creek.  The trail crosses the creek and leads to campsite 3, the group campsite and the zone camping.

Beech Tree Trail:

Length: 1.0 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Yellow Diamonds

Beech Tree Trail is an easy 1-mile loop around the picnic area.  The trail passes through a forest of American Beech, hence the trail's name.  This trail is also the park's Track Trail.

Maple Run Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Red Diamonds

Maple Run Trail is a half-mile trail that runs from the trailhead past the amphitheater.  After crossing the main park road, the trail terminates into the Beech Creek Trail Loop.

Summit Trail:

Length: 1.9 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Blaze: Blue Diamonds

The Summit Trail starts at the parking lot and leads up to the summit of Elk Knob.  This trail replaces the old dirt road to the summit.  With several switchbacks leading up, the Summit Trail is less steep than the dirt road and a much more pleasant hike.  About two-thirds of the way up is an overlook along the trail facing northeast.  At the top, there are two overlooks.  From the south view, you can see Grandfather Mountain, Roan Mountain and even the Black Mountains.  From the north view, you can see Mount Rogers in Virginia.

Points of Interest:

Trail Overlook:

The trail overlook is about two-thirds of the way up Summit Trail.  On my last visit the weather was poor.

South View:

At the end of the Summit Trail, go left to reach the South View.

North View:

At the end of the Summit Trail, go right to each the North View.  The actual summit of Elk Knob is right at the overlook.

External Links:

NC State Parks website: https://www.ncparks.gov/elk-knob-state-park


Elk Knob State Park