Spectacular views from Eagle Rock/Shumont Mountain.
Shumont Mountain is one of the higher peaks that form part of the eastern ridge bounding Hickory Nut Gorge. Like most of the peaks on the southern (open) end of the gorge, Shumont Mountain is adorned with all manner of granite walls and pillars. At a little over 3,800 feet in elevation, it’s not a very high mountain by North Carolina standards, and there are many peaks nearby that would normally dwarf Shumont and its immediate neighbors. However, these ridges make up a truly huge escarpment that falls off into the Piedmont plateau, and they stand rather starkly above the terrain to the south, forming huge walls that rise impressively.
Views from Shumont.
View from Eagle Rock/Shumont Mountain
Add to this the fact that most of the peaks here are surrounded by high cliffs and extensive slopes of exposed granite, and you have the makings for some striking scenery. Shumont and vicinity are clothed in second-growth hardwood and hemlock forests and there are many, many impressive waterfalls and cataracts in the streams that pour out of the coves and valleys.
The summit of Shumont Mountain itself is covered in trees and there are no good views from the very top. However, on the eastern shoulder of Shumont lies Eagle Rock, a prominent outcropping of bare granite that affords a tremendous grandstand for viewing the North Carolina high country. This peak is accessible via a short scramble from the west or by a tremendous rock climb from the east. Eagle Rock is a popular area for rappelling. There are also ample opportunities for bouldering and scrambling on and around Eagle Rock. This peak has a healthy grove of Carolina hemlocks and Table Mountain pines growing around the exposed summit—a nice chance to view these two native Carolina trees. The hemlocks here are infested with the wooly adelgid, but are still in good health as of this writing (February 2007).
The "Jeep Trail"
The only reliable trail to the summit of Shumont is via the unofficial “Jeep Trail” that follows the ridgeline of Rumbling Bald Mountain. It’s an excellent trail, and while motorized vehicles are not allowed, don’t be surprised to see climbers and others driving trucks to the summit to access the cliffs there. The trail is long and rather a bit of a lung-buster in my opinion, but a very rewarding hike.
Old snag at the summit.
This area was recently designated as being within the newest state park of North Carolina, Hickory Nut Gorge State Park. The park will be officially opened some time in 2008, at which time I hope the trail will be policed to prevent motor vehicles from gaining access to Eagle Rock. (But who knows—maybe the state will open it to motor vehicles.)
"The Jeep Trail"
To the Lake Lure area:
From the south, take 74 West from I-85. Then take NC 9 into Lake Lure and enter the gorge there.
From the north, take 64 East from I-26. This will take you right into the gorge.
Trailhead: proceed west on Hwy 74/Hwy 64. After going through the town of Lake Lure, take a right on Boys Camp Road. Take this road for about 1 mile. Just after passing a resort on the right, look for a place to park. The Old jeep trail is on the left. Much of the property is privately owned, so you must get permission to hike.
If coming from Asheville headed east, take a left onto Boys Camp Road.
Eagle Rock and hemlocks.
It's generally advised (until the park is officially open) that you call ahead to the Nature Conservancy to ask for permission to use the trail to Shumont Mountain.
No camping until the park is officially open. There are several private campgrounds in and around Hickory Nut Gorge.