Point Lookout Trail

North Carolina

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Point Lookout Trail Facts

States: North Carolina
Counties: Buncombe, McDowell
Length: 3.63 miles
Trail end points: Old Fort and Ridgecrest
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6363818
Trail activities: Bike, Walking

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Point Lookout Trail Description

The paved, 3.62-mile Point Lookout Trail follows the Old NC 10/Highway 70 route through the Royal Gorge, once known at the Central Highway, through the Pisgah National Forest. The trail ascends more than 900 feet between Old Fort and Ridgecrest, with long-range views from the famous Point Lookout (tourist attraction of yesteryear).

From the lookout, the trail crosses over the railroad and offers several nice views of several rail tunnels. The trail is a steady climb, and many bikers choose to ride slowly to the top then coast down.

The Point Lookout Trail is frequently used as the return leg for the rugged Kitsuma Mountain Bike Trail.

Parking and Trail Access

From I-40, take Exit 73/Old Fort and go north on Catawba Ave. to Main St./US 70; turn left and take the next right on Old Highway 70. Continue to the intersection of Mill Creek Road; parking is at the picnic grounds on left, from May to October.

You can get closer by continuing to Piney Grove Baptist church; parking is usually available on the shoulder. Do not park on church property. The gate and beginning of the trail is just ahead.

Point Lookout Trail Reviews

A great trail, but please be aware of rockslide approximately 1.6 miles from Old Fort terminus. Debris can be walked through, but you will need to dismount.

I've taken my dog here for the last two days (parked on the Ridgecrest side) and it was a good time. It's an easy paved path, the climb isn't so bad (gradual and steady) with great views. Will be a great regular walk with the dog to wear her out and work on my legs.

Here is what you do: Pick any weekday morning, in October preferably. Get jacked up at the Whole Foods on Tunnel Road in Asheville. Then drive to the trailhead parking, take the trail to the top and loop back down via Mill Creek Road. Views, history, natural beauty. This route will take you along the OLD main thoroughfare to Asheville -old US70- back in the Model T days. An information site with pictures is near the top. It also winds alongside the famous railroad loops and tunnels, along routes of civil war battles, and past the geyser, ca. 1885. On my first trip I saw exactly... zero people. On my second I met a whopping six, and watched the train creep up those incredible loops-- The head of the train on one side of me, the tail 180 degrees opposite.
DO park at the Forest Service parking, NOT at the church, no matter what anyone else does.
There are also trails leading off of this loop, and one could take the road from the ridge top (Ridgecrest) all the way into Asheville.
It is about 4 paved miles uphill before the Mill Creek Road descent. Don't let the ascent deter you. It is not that bad.


Since my wife and I have started biking the RTT's and Greenway Trails, we have come to expect a certain "casual" experience on our rides. This trail has all the features for a casual ride i.e. scenic, well constructed, smooth asphalt through and through, shade, etc.! Our only advice for you casual bikers, you better be in good shape, because it is 3.62 miles of UP! - WHEW!!!

Is this trail's (well, all trails') mileage one-way or round-trip?

This trail is a continuous climb which had me wishing I had brought my mountain bike instead of my road bike. The problems mentioned by a previous reviewer appear to have been repaired and the road looks to be in good shape. Instead of coasting back down the trail, I took Mill Creek Road, (the dirt road you see on the right when you reach the top) and made a big circle back to the picnic area where I was parked. This gives you some more great views of the railroad and takes you by Andrews Geyser. Give this one a try, I think you'll like it.

The trail is open. However, there is work being done just below Point Lookout where a culvert is being replace. The road is shifting down the mountain and has developed cracks in the pavement. I don't know what the powers that be have in mind for this repair. It will be major.

due to mudslide, trail is closed for now.

When you start your bike ride from the church, it's up hill all the way. There is an excellent paved road, some beautiful plants and flowers, and lots of heavy breathing. Take time to enjoy the view from the 2 wooden benches, see picture. Coming down, is a blast!!! Make sure your brake pads are in good condition.

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