UPDATE: 03-08-2009. Access to the summit is still an option. The fellow claiming that it was now off limits, and calling himself the "caretaker" was full of shit. You can't use the old parking area, but hiking to the summit is still legal. Read the access instructions below in "Getting There".
Once again, I find myself describing a mountain with a name duplicated elsewhere in the state. This Little Pisgah Mountain is located in Henderson County not far from the village of Bat Cave, and overlooking Hickory Nut Gorge. The other one is right up against the Blue Ridge Parkway and is the better known of the two and higher by about eight hundred feet.
The whole of this peak seems to be in private hands. However, some parts of it are part of a nature preserve and other sections seem to be under some type of conservation easement. As such, public access is okay, and I encountered no legal barriers on my hike to the summit and back down.
At the top
There are gated roads, but I saw not a single "no trespassing" sign.
There are also various radio, microwave, and cell phone towers on the summit of the peak. However, the views from the top are such that one almost forgets these structures are even present. One gets almost 360 degree views from the top due to the peak's prominence in the area, and to the pastures that clothe a good part of the mountaintop. Generally speaking, home sites on mountains like Little Pisgah are a huge problem for me. However, the ones I encountered on this hike were so dispersed and placed in such a manner that they didn't detract from the pleasure of the scenery. Also, they all seem to be seldom-used second homes and so they didn't pose a traffic/crowd problem.
Looking down into the gap.
A gravel road (Little Pisgah Mountain Road) allows hiking access from near the mountain's base along NC74 all the way to the summit. I'm not terribly fond of road hiking, but this hike is not unpleasant, and you can hike on at least one nature preserve trail that parallels the road for at least some of the hike.
Do not use the old parking area at the beginning of Little Pisgah Mountain Road. Instead, use the following:
Access is as follows: Turn at Nita's Grocery in Gerton (Kelly Mountain Road? I think that was the name). Less than a mile on the narrow dirt road past some private homes, the road enters into the Florence Nature Preserve. Park at the "Blue Trail" trailhead, which has room for about 3 cars. Take the blue trail to Little Pisgah Road and then follow that up to the summit.
From the slopes.
None. One passes through a lot of private property on the hike. Respect the rights of property owners and you should encounter no problems. Do not leave any gates opened, as some of this is cattle country. Don't approach any of the houses you pass along the way by climbing fences.
Update: Apparently property owners have succeeded in blocking access to the summit of this mountain. Alas!
There is no camping on the mountain. There are private campgrounds in Hickory Nut Gorge.
Carolina Mountain Club Little Pisgah Mountain hike description.
Back in 2001, Little Pisgah Mountain was suffering from severe erosion. Some work was done with labor provided by local prison inmates which resulted in the halt of further erosion and the establishment of meadows in what had been erosional gullies.
You can see the work, including before and after figures at this link.