The Big Picture

The Big Picture: Summit these lookouts for awe-inspiring mountain vistas
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Roan Highlands
Mitchell County
Nearly 20 miles of bald ridgelines comprise the Roan Highlands along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, and offer 360-degree views. From Bakersville, head north on N.C. 226 to the border, where trails are accessible from Carver’s Gap, Tennessee.

Shuckstack Fire Tower
Swain County
Take the 6.8-mile round-trip trek from the north end of Fontana Dam and climb the fire tower for spectacular views over the lake, Unicoi Mountains to the west, and Nantahala Forest to the south.

Mount Craig
Yancey County
Dodge the crowds at Mount Mitchell, and hike two miles north along Deep Gap Trail to Mount Craig, the second highest peak in Appalachia. Access the trailhead from the picnic area at Mount Mitchell.

Elk Knob
Watauga County
The namesake peak in Elk Knob State Park presents a 5,520-foot summit with views of Grandfather, Beech, and Sugar mountains to the south and the Amphibolite Mountains to the north. The park entrance is located at 5564 Meat Camp Road in Todd.

Shortoff Mountain
Burke County
The view from the summit is arguably the best vantage point over Linville Gorge. Though tricky to reach due to relatively unmaintained trails, the peak boasts vistas up and down the pass, as well as views of Lake James. The trailhead is accessible from Wolf Pit Road off N.C. 126 near Marion.

The Big 3
1. Mount Mitchell: Yancey County
2. Black Balsam Knob: Haywood County
3. Max Patch: Madison County