Strenuous but rewarding day hike near Boone, NC

Snake Mountain divides the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The highest point in elevation is around 5560 feet allowing for some spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. From the peak, you are able to see Grandfather and Beech Mountain to the southwest, Elk Knob (the nearest mountain in sight) to the east, Mt. Rogers of the Grayson Highlands and Three Top Mountain to your northeast along with Rich Mountain Bald to your west. Snake Mountain is located just outside of Boone and is a perfect day hike destination for those in the area who want a challenging but short hike with all the views of some of your lengthier summit hikes around the Boone area. Snake Mountain is one of the more ecologically diverse amphibolite mountains in the surrounding mountain range and this is especially evident in the spring. I personally prefer to hike the trail in the spring right before everything grows back over on top of the mountain to avoid bushwhacking my way to the summit. Usually early June is when everything starts to bloom on the mountain making for quite the visual display of wildlife.  During the summer months, it is almost impossible to make it to the highest point on Snake Mountain due to the overgrown brush near the top. In the winter, the snow clings to the trail due to a lack of sunlight on the northeast side of the mountain where the trail is located. The trail’s orientation usually results in a good bit of snow build up over the winter months so make sure you wear Gore-Tex boots to keep your feet dry. The trail is pretty steep and rocky near the top so watch your step, especially in the winter months from the snow melt refreezing to the rock. For those who love to come up to the mountains during the fall for the foliage season, Snake Mountain is the perfect spot to view the colorful canvas that the North Carolina Mountains have to offer during this time of year. Snake Mountain Trail is an amazing hike that never gets old. A hike worthy trail no matter the time of year, just make sure you pack appropriately for each season (see list below). I have found that no matter how many times you hike this trail no one experience is the same and you will catch yourself taking photos every time you go due to Snake Mountain's ever-changing splendor.

To get there from Boone head east down King St. towards US-421 and make a left on NC-194 between Lowes Foods and Mike’s Inland Seafood. Then you will make an eventual left onto Meat Camp Rd. by the Plan B Convenience Store... not sure they really thought that store name out too well. Once you get past Elk Knob State Park, the parking area for Snake Mountain will be nearby on your right. See attached image with numeric directions 1 through 3. 5852–6698 Meat Camp Rd Todd, NC  28684 United States 

1. Parking is on a gravel lot right across the road from a metal cattle gate

2. Through the metal gate is your access to the trail. The gate is just there to keep vehicles out so do not worry about squeezing through it on foot.

3. Marks the top of Snake Mountain

The trail to the top is grassy and somewhat rocky up until the halfway point. The halfway point is located just past the forested area of the trail at a clearing where an existing power pole is located. After the first couple of switchbacks, this is a good spot to take a pause and take in the views towards Mt. Rogers, Elk Knob, and Three Top Mountain. Peek at the parking area you just hiked from to see how tiny your car now looks! After the halfway point starts the real ascent to the top. The trail drastically gets rockier and steeper as you go up in elevation from this point on until you meet the ridgeline. Continue up the rocky face of the mountain eventually passing some old rappelling hook ups and a great overlook towards the Tennessee Mountains, past this point the trail gets narrower towards the summit. You will see a small footpath leading up to an overlook of boulders jutting out from the mountain side, from there the trail branches off to the left up the ridge line eventually coming to a primitive hikers camp and a non-tactical rock face that leads to the summit. Take a pause at the campground before ascending the rock face in front of you to get to Snake Mountain’s highest point. Hike about another 1/2 mile up the ridge until arriving at a clearing that gives you a 360 view of the mountains around you. You made it!

Be respectful and pick up any trash that you might see on your way up the mountain. Snake Mountain is private land that the owner allows people on so be thankful for the opportunity they have provided you to hike up this incredible mountain.

 

Pack List

 Spring:

  • Water
  • Hammock for some chilling
  • Rain jacket      
  • Thick treaded boots or shoes
  • Camera 

Summer:

  • Water    
  • Rain jacket
  • Thick treaded boots or shoes
  • Hammock for some chilling  
  • Camera

Fall:

  • Water
  • Merino wool face mask for the wind
  • Rain jacket
  • Thick treaded boots
  • Warm base layers
  • Camera

Winter:    

  • Water
  • Merino wool face mask for the wind 
  • Rain jacket
  • Extra pair of wool socks
  • Waterproof/water-resistant boots w/thick treads 
  • Canvas or water resistant pants
  • Thermal base layers 
  • Camera 


 

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RT Distance 4 Miles
Elevation Gain 1668 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

gnarly climb

This was the best sunset I think Ive ever seen in NC. thanks for putting it up here.


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