Narrows Knob is an aptly named peak within what is largely regarded as the Mackey Mountain Roadless Area in North Carolina. This is a large chunk of property that should be a wilderness area, but has so far been left out of being designated as such. The peak is along the largely abandoned Mackey Mountain Trail in the Pisgah National Forest. One can still follow the trail for a number of miles, but it vanishes completely roughly three-foruths into its former 6-mile length. I will assume that the Forest Service hasn't been able to afford to maintain the trail for a few years.
The ridge leading up to the summit is, indeed, very narrow. The slopes fall off very steeply on either side of a knife's edge ridgeline. It's almost akin to hiking the Sawteeth in the Smokies, but without the denuded slopes nor the cliff faces.
The hike in to Narrows Knob consists of a fair number of steep ups and downs with some very warm pulls over the intervening peaks. Keep in mind that there are absolutely no water sources along this ridge, so if traversing this part of the Mackey Mountain area, be sure to bring plenty of water.
In our latest hike to the peak it seems that most of the traffic is from
hunters who use what remains of the trail to access the forest. We encountered a truly horrible amount of trash on the hike but had not come prepared with garbage bags to pack that crap out. Hunters are not known for adhering to anything like a pack-in-in-pack-it-out ethos. We kept seeing plastic bottles, cans, bags, wrappers, and other recently abandoned trash along the way. It was horrifying.
Most of the ridge line along the old trail is socked in by the vigorous growth of hardwood forests. So if you arrive after springtime the views are few. However, there are some inspiring grandstands on the trail, mainly on the summit of Narrows Knob where some cliffs prevent many trees from finding purchase. Enjoy the views there of deep drainages clothed in one of North Carolina's finest forests. There are many patches of old growth timber in this part of Pisgah National Forest with some exceptionally large trees.
Access to most of the few trails in the Mackey Mountain area are via Forest Service Road 482.
From I-40, take the exit at Old Fort. Go 0.2 miles through town and take US 70. Drive about one mile to the intersection of US 70 and Curtis Creek Service Road (SR 1227). Turn left onto 1227 which soon becomes FS Road 482 after about 3.5 miles. Look for the Curtis Creek Campground on the right. Trail access into the roadless area are located in and near the campground on either side of the road.
No red tape. National Forest land so you can camp just about anywhere you want to.
Heavy bear population, so be very sure to practice safe bear country habits.
There is semi-developed camping at the Curtis Creek Campground. This is a Pisgah National Forest facility. There are vault toilets, water pumps, and both tent and RV campsites.