Bluff Mountain is an outstanding piece of topography in Madison County, North Carolina at 4,686 ft. It can be seen from a couple locations along US Hwy 25/70 in vistas that, in my opinion, are just as beautiful as anything seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is located on Pisgah National Forest land along the Appalachian Trail corridor. If fact, the AT passes within about 30 feet of the summit. Views are obscured from the summit due to the typical dense southern Appalachian hardwood forests that blanket much of the region. Despite this fact, it is still an exceptional place to hike and backpack as it sees very few visitors, especially after the thru-hikers pull through from April until June. 'Bluff', as locals call it, is approximately 30 miles north of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and 10 miles south of Hot Springs, NC.
Bluff Mountain is accessible from several directions; all of which are moderate to strenuous hikes with at least some elevation gain. From Hot Springs, it is a 10 mile hike with about 3,500 ft. of total elevation change. Most people that hike to Bluff do so as northbound thru-hikers (also known as NoBo's) on their 2,147 mile journey from Georgia to Maine. As such, they approach from the south via the Smokies and Max Patch with it's ever undulating ridge walking. Another access point is from Garenflo Gap Rd off of NC 209 about 8 miles south of Hot Springs, NC. From there, it's a 4.1 mile hike to the summit of Bluff. I've attempted to get to the top of Bluff Mountain from the northwest, but the East Fork Shut-in Creek trail hasn't been maintained in several years and requires a bushwhack and good route finding skills in order to reach the Appalachian Trail at Garenflo Gap for the final 4 miles.
Bluff Mountain is located on the Pisgah National Forest on the Appalachian Ranger District. All rules and regulations, such as Leave-No-Trace apply. For further information, contact the Appalachian Ranger District office at:
P.O. Box 128
Burnsville, NC 28714