TABLE ROCK MOUNTAIN
One of the most scenic secrets of the Blue Ridge is Table Rock Mountain. A distinctive landmark on the mountain horizon as you travel up NC 181 from Morganton to Linville, this mountain provides some of the best mountain vistas anywhere. If you had only one hike on your bucket list.....make it Table Rock Mountain!
Getting to Table Rock Mountain is pretty easy. Travel up NC 181 from Morganton and as you near Jonas Ridge there will be a sign directing you to Table Rock Recreation area at Gingercake Road. About a mile down Gingercake Road, a NC Forest Service gravel road will veer to the left. From there is an 8.5 mile trek up a narrow winding gravel road. You will pass trail heads for Spence Ridge and Hawksbill and will think you are lost but soon you will find a paved one lane steep road past the entrance to the Outward Bound school to a large parking lot serving the trail head of Table Rock and Shortoff Mountains.
Table Rock Mountain is a 3960 foot peak. The parking lot is approximately 1.2 miles below the summit. It is a steep but manageable moderate trail. Several trails diverge from the summit trail and markings are not the best but as long as you stay to the right you will soon reach the summit.
On the trek to the summit you will be teased with views of the Linville Gorge. Keep you camera handy as you will want to snap a few pictures as you stop to catch your breath.
As you make the final climb onto the summit of Table Rock Mountain you will quickly reach "mountain scenic overload". The trail ends on the flat rock of "Big Table" the eastern ridge of the mountain. Looming in front of you is Hawksbill Mountain.
Hawksbill Mountain serves as a ready reference point to two distant mountains. To the left of Hawksbill is the summit of Sugar Mountain as distinguished by the square box shape of the Sugar Loaf Condominiums, the only ridge top structure permitted in the Blue Ridge. To the right of Hawksbill Mountain is the reclining face of Grandfather Mountain.
Be sure to pack a lunch. You will want to take a moment to sit and contemplate the majesty of the beauty that surrounds you. By doing so you will soon find that the shadows cast by moving clouds change the view before you eyes.
Make sure that you allow at least an hour to fully explore and appreciate the many vistas afforded you on Big Table and Little Table. The entire summit is accessible with a little bit of effort and nerve. Looking to the southeast you can see Brown Mountain and to the southwest is Lake James.
Some folks say on a clear day the skyline of Charlotte 90 miles away can be seen! On the day we visited Table Rock the haze on the horizon kept us from seeing the big city for which I was quite thankful!
If you venture to the western end of the summit to the area known as "Little Table" you can get a view of an area known as the Devil's Cellar and Shortoff mountain as well as a view of portions of the Linville Gorge that are seldom accessed by the public.
Looking to the North you can see the Gorge surrounding the Falls
Looking back from Little Table toward the Hawksbill Mountain I spied a lady taking a picture of the Fat Bald White Guy. I must be some sight!
There is a US Natural Geodetic survey marker on summit of Table Rock Mountain labeled "Tble Rck".
The FAT BALD WHITE GUY rates this hike a 10!.....the Scenery is a 10+; access is an 8; the moderate trail with stunning vistas is a 9. If you have not been to Table Rock Mountain ....get on them hiking kicks....pack a lunch....bundle the family in the car and as Captain Picard would say...."Make is so, Number 1"
Sing, O Heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout ye lower parts of the Earth, sing ye Mountains, O Forest and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel. Isaiah 44:23