OverviewRising serenely from the Swannanoa Valley almost 4000 feet below, Craggy Dome might be as charismatic a southern sixer as you could ever look at from the bottom. And of peaks with 1000 feet of clean prominence, this is the tenth highest in eastern America. Yet you'll likely have no company on its damp, bushy upper reaches--this peak is mostly admired only from afar.
The top of Craggy Dome is a heath bald, covered in laurel bushes so dense that trees can't get a foothold. Fortunately, there is a rock that almost emerges from the bushes, and tall people can catch a pretty good view if they really crane their necks.
For the full north side ascent, take NC 197 to Barnardsville, NC and turn south at the post office. Stay on this road until you reach Dillingham. Follow left fork in Dillingham to big Ivy Campground, after which the pavement will end. Follow the unpaved road (FS 74) for about nine miles to Craggy Mountains Scenic Area. The trailhead is at the end of the car park.
Complete North Side Ascent: From the Douglas Falls trailhead parking at the end of Forest Service Road 74, elevation 4400 feet, take the gentle trail that descends 200 feet in half a mile to Douglas Falls (locally known as Carter Creek Falls). From this pretty 70-foot cascade, turn left and start a steady 1000-foot climb to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, passing a second waterfall on the way. Turn left and follow the MST to Greybeard Overlook on the parkway, and continue as described above. Total distance to the summit from the trailhead is in the neighborhood of five miles, with a 2000-foot elevation gain.
Other Routes: Because the Mountains-to-Sea Trail traverses reaches 5600 feet on the north flank of Craggy Dome, creative trip planners could craft an interesting ascent from a variety of trailheads that connect with the MST. One that could work quite well would be to come south from Cane River Gap over Big Butt, Point Misery, and the northern Craggies. Ascents from the south are illegal due to the Asheville Watershed--it is prohibited to enter the headwaters above the Burnett and Bee Tree reservoirs.