Day Hike 9: Park Vista to Jumpinoff Rock Overlook
High Meadows, Great Views
Distance: 8.0 miles
- Difficulty: Moderate. Distance and a series of moderate climbs from the midpoint on.
- Camping: No.
- Land manager: National Park Service.
- Volunteer Task Force Leader: Jim Hallsey, email@example.com.
- Piggyback trail: No.
- Connecting trails: No.
That’s Mount Jefferson in the distance.
An abundance of high meadows perched atop ridgelines equates to plenty of great views and, thus, slow going on this 8.0-mile stretch. Starting from the Park Vista Inn at Benge Gap, the trail follows the paved Blue Ridge Church Road for a short distance, passing a cemetery to the right and Blue Ridge Baptist Church to the left before hitting the first of those scenic grasslands. Dominating most of these views early on: stately Mount Jefferson to the west, an imposing dome that rises 1,600 feet above the surrounding countryside.
Enticing as the meadows are they can also create a wayfinding challenge: sometimes, the path through them isn’t immediately clear. Rule of thumb: Upon entering a meadow stop and see if you can figure out where the trail goes. Often, it follows a fenceline or heads toward the BRP. Look for the standard white-circle MST blaze on fence posts, or the low wooden MST post at the far side of the meadow.
Once you figure out where the trail goes, then set your spirit free to explore these wide open spaces.
At the beginning of the hike, the owners of the Park Vista Inn (MP 268) (unfortunately the restaurant is not currently open) allow hikers to park in their lot, but it’s essential to make arrangements in advance. (Call Anthony Smeltzer at 336-877-5200.)
View on Map
To see this hike on a map, visit our Interactive Map and click “Day Hikes” to view the endpoints.
Finding Your Way
|Finding Your Way (west » east)
|Trailhead: From Park Vista Rd. at Benge Gap (MP 268). follow paved Blue Ridge Church Rd. up the hill.
|Pass the NPS maintenance yard on the right before arriving at Blue Ridge Baptist Church on the left a few yards beyond. The church cemetery is on the right.
|Walk north of the cemetery and cross BRP. Walk 500 feet along the eastern segment of Blue Ridge Church Rd., which is now gravel. Turn left into the woods, following a creek. At top of the hill, MST makes a sharp left. Note: Don’t be confused by the MST sign with arrow; that sign is for westbound hikers. Keep walking up the hill to your left. A few yards up the hill, MST turns right. You are parallel to the BRP.
|Walk through a stile into a pasture. Walk along the fence posts, noting the white dots on the posts periodically. As you climb the hill, note large trees in the middle of the pasture will have MST dots and signs as the trail moves over to the center of the pasture.
|At the top of the hill, you will be opposite the Mt. Jefferson Overlook below. From the summit you have astounding views of Grandfather, Sugar, and Beech Mountains to the south and Mt. Jefferson in front of you. Continue downhill along tree line. A well-trod footpath begins closer to fenceline and white dots appear again on fence posts. Just past a pasture gate, go through a stile into the woods on your left.
|The path goes through rhododendron thickets and woods, even though it is close to the BRP. The trail comes out of the woods and goes 150 yards outside the fenceline on the BRP shoulder before going back into the woods—still on the east (right) side of the BRP. Trail continues in woods along fenceline before going downhill away from the BRP.
|Trail comes out of the woods at gravel road. This is once again Blue Ridge Church Rd. Turn left and walk on the road, which has little-to-no traffic. You will walk alongside scenic meadows for this section.
|The gravel road reaches an intersection. Turn left (west) and go to BRP. Across the BRP, you’ll see Calloway Gap Rd. Cross the BRP and follow MST sign a few yards north of Calloway Gap Rd.
|Trail ascends to fenceline. Note: This fence is electrified! Trail comes out to BRP. Turn left and walk 600 feet on the shoulder. Trail goes back into woods along electrified fence still on west side of BRP.
|At end of fence, trail enters laurel/rhododendron thicket then goes into forest with fern-covered floor. Trail goes up and down hills but steep ascents and descents never go more than 200 feet before leveling out.
|Just beyond second switchback (past a 12 inch birch, a 12 inch locust and before a 24 inch white pine), pass a blue-blazed access trail on left leading 350 feet to Obids Creek backcountry campsite (H4). Water (Obids Creek) is 525 feet past campsite on blue blazed trail at small waterfall in notch of low rock ledge.
|After switchbacks, trail comes into clearing. Trail crosses clearing going away from BRP towards the woods. Watch for white dots on trees. Trail passes Christmas tree farm with large pond on left. Trail ascends and makes sharp left turn near BRP. Trail descends 300 feet to wooden steps at switchback. It’s 100 feet to open field.
|It’s 300 feet across field. You pass 2 MST posts placed at trail forks while crossing field; go right at first, left at second post. Enter woods and walk downhill about 700 feet. Trail is level for about 100 feet before descending for 0.4 mile. Come out of woods.
|MST crosses BRP diagonally. This is Daniels Gap (MP 262.2). Look for MST sign at edge of woods to the north on the east side of BRP. The trail travels through woods for about 0.5 mile until it opens onto a grassy area under large power lines. Cross under lines and go back into woods.
|Trail comes to a gravel road; turn left. Pass an iron gate; continue on road for 30 feet to where MST turns left into woods. Walk through woods to field that borders BRP. Turn right & walk along BRP to overpass over NC 16 (MP 261). Walk across the overpass on the shoulder.
|MST goes back into woods across the access ramp on east (right) side. Look for sign northeast of stop sign. After 60 feet, turn left on grassy roadbed. Walk 40 feet to left turn back into woods. Blaze indicating turn may be faded, so look closely for this quick turn. After 260 feet, turn right onto old logging/service road. Walk 100 feet to where MST goes left back into woods. It’s 0.2 mile to fork in trail. 100 feet to right is stonework overlook at Jumpinoff Rock; it’s well worth the short detour. From the fork, MST goes left. It’s 200 feet to bench on left.
|Trailhead: Jumpinoff Rock Overlook parking area (MP 260.3).