OverviewRocky Knob is the prominent peak that stands between The Pinnacle (also known as Blue Ridge Pinnacle) and Graybeard Mountain. Many people miss this peak because it is dominated by those two higher summits. In addition, there is no official trail to the top, since most people use the Mount Mitchell Toll Road to access these mountains, and it slabs along the slopes of Rocky Knob without hitting the peak.
However, there is a trail to the peak, but not an official one. This trail follows the border of the Asheville Watershed, but is easy to see and gets just enough foot traffic to stay relatively open.
At just under 5300 feet above sea level, this would be a major eastern mountain if it were located just about anywhere else but where it is. Because of its location, it is all but lost in a sea of summits that rise all the way to the highest in the east, Mount Mitchell, which stands close enough to dominate the skyline to the north.
The views from Rocky Knob are worth the effort to locate it. The top itself is open and rocky with nothing to obscure the view. If coming in from The Pinnacle, the hike is steep but pretty easy. However, if you are climbing from the saddle between Rocky Knob and Graybeard the climb is more of a scramble--anything from 2+ to Class III.
Getting ThereThe easiest access is via the Blue Ridge Parkway. Park at the gated Mount Mitchell Toll Road. There is limited parking near the gate (be sure not to block the gate), but you can find parking farther along the Parkway either north or south of the gate. Once you have parked, instead of following the Toll Road, hike up the obvious trail just inside the gate. You will see an orange warning sign for the Asheville Watershed. Don't go on the other side of these signs along the trail/manway. If you do get caught trespassing into the watershed, you'll more than likely be arrested and charged. But as long as you stay on the left side, you're okay.
Hike over The Pinnacle, and then continue on down into the next saddle and up to the summit of Rocky Knob.
Red TapeNone. Just don't trespass into the Asheville Watershed.
CampingAmple camping throughout the area. Be careful not to trespass on private inholdings around Montreat. There are few if any suitable campsites on the summit of Rocky Knob.
External LinksAsheville Watershed Easement.
Montreat Trail Map.