Last updated: October 1, 2020
Parking - Auto, Trailhead
Craven Gap is a mountain pass between Peach Knob and Rice Knob, part of the Elk Mountains and the Great Craggy Mountains. Town Mountain Road (NC 694) connects downtown Asheville with the Blue Ridge Parkway at the gap. The gap offers trail access for hikers and is used as a rest spot by bicyclists.
A small gravel parking area and roadside parking are available for hikers just off the Blue Ridge Parkway on the side road perpendicular to the Parkway. A set of wooden steps provide access to the Mountains-to Sea Trail heading north. The trail heading south can be found by walking toward the large white and orange gates at the road entrance and crossing the Parkway. The southern trailhead is a small path to the left of the guardrail. It heads down the hill. White circular dots (blazes) mark the trail at intervals along the way.
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a 1,200-mile trail that spans the State of North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Atlantic coast. It runs parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway for many miles. Due to its proximity to Asheville, the Craven Gap section is well-used. You will encounter other hikers and sometimes their dogs on this section of trail. As a reminder, the trail is located in a unit of the National Park Service and dogs are required to be on a leash.
Many trail users run or walk these sections (north or south) for the mileage or exercise. They gain some elevation, so are somewhat challenging, and are “out and back” in nature. There are rocks and roots in the trail, so hiking poles may be helpful. Mountain views are only available during the winter. Vehicle noise can be heard from the Parkway below. Spring and summer wildflowers along this trail are stunning and plentiful when they are in bloom. Fall color in this forest is beautiful due to the variety of deciduous trees.
Bears are frequently seen in vicinity of Craven Gap. Sing, talk, or make noise as you hike so they know that you are there. If you see a bear, clap your hands and try to look big. Do not run away. Back away slowly.
Popular hike destinations from Craven Gap:
- North – Craven Gap to Ox Creek Road (1.8 mile, one way)
- South – Craven Gap to Haw Creek Valley Overlook (2.9 miles, one way)