Trails along the Highland Scenic Highway
High Rock Trail #409 is a popular scenic trail that ends on at an overlook with a gorgeous view into the Stamping Creek watershed. The trail is just over 1.5 miles and follows a gentle grade, with only two short climbs and switchbacks.
Black Mountain Trail #412 was designed as a day hike looping trail between the Williams River Valley Overlook and Big Spruce Overlook on the Highland Scenic Highway.
On the overlook side of the highway, the trail travels 2.4 miles through a beech, birch, and red spruce forest with a scattered rhododendron understory. Most of the distance follows an old railroad grade. The trail enters a rock field before ascending to the boardwalk of the Black Mountain Fire Interpretive Trail #413 that begins at the Big Spruce Overlook. The rocky areas are the remaining evidence of the destructive fire of the 1930s that visitors can learn about along the interpretive trail at Big Spruce.
The other half of the trail is located across the highway from the overlook parking, where it enters the Cranberry Wilderness. This 2.3-mile section meanders through the same beech, birch, and red spruce forest with rhododendron, mountain laurel, and scattered ferns.
Red Spruce Knob Trail #451 is a 1.2 mile hike that climbs 380 feet to the highest point along the Highland Scenic Highway at 4,703 feet in elevation.
There are two series of switchbacks that provide a gentle climb to the top. At the summit, the path circles around Red Spruce Knob. The Knob is covered with interesting rock formations and capped with a dense stand of red spruce (Picea rubra). Due to its elevation, the Knob was an attractive location for a fire tower. In the late 1930s, the Black Mountain CCC men built a wooden fire tower that replaced the tree that was climbed to check for fires. The structure was removed in 1968—only the tower’s foundation remains today. There is an overlook giving a beautiful view of the Crooked Fork watershed and surrounding mountains.