Dark Mountain Trail In North Carolina

Here is everything you need to know about the Dark Mountain Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: North Carolina
  • Length: 7 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: National Park Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Dark Mountain Trail, located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, holds a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. This trail, stretching over 40 miles, was once a vital pathway for Native American tribes who inhabited the region. These tribes, including the Cherokee and Catawba, used the trail for trade, communication, and hunting purposes. The Dark Mountain Trail served as a crucial link between various settlements and played a significant role in the cultural exchange and development of these tribes.

With the arrival of European settlers in the 18th century, the Dark Mountain Trail gained even more prominence. It became an important route for early pioneers and traders, facilitating the movement of goods and supplies between settlements. The trail was often used by fur trappers, who ventured deep into the wilderness in search of valuable pelts. These early settlers recognized the strategic importance of the Dark Mountain Trail, as it provided a direct connection between the Appalachian foothills and the vast wilderness beyond.

During the American Revolutionary War, the Dark Mountain Trail played a crucial role in military operations. Both British and American forces utilized the trail to move troops, supplies, and messages. The dense forests and rugged terrain of the trail provided natural barriers and hiding places, making it an ideal route for guerrilla warfare and ambush tactics. The Dark Mountain Trail witnessed numerous skirmishes and battles, leaving behind a legacy of historical significance.

Over time, the Dark Mountain Trail evolved from a vital trade and military route to a popular recreational destination. Today, hikers, backpackers, and nature enthusiasts flock to this trail to experience its natural beauty and immerse themselves in its rich history. The Dark Mountain Trail stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of human exploration and the deep connection between people and the land they traverse.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Dark Mountain Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Dark Mountain Trail. It is located at the Dark Mountain Recreation Area in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

2. Cub Creek Trailhead: This access point is located along Cub Creek Road, near the intersection with Dark Mountain Road. It provides an alternative starting point for the Dark Mountain Trail.

3. Warrior Creek Trailhead: Although not directly on the Dark Mountain Trail, the Warrior Creek Trailhead is nearby and can be used as an access point. It is located at the Warrior Creek Campground in Moravian Falls, North Carolina.

4. Flintlock Valley Trailhead: This access point is located along Flintlock Valley Road, near the intersection with Dark Mountain Road. It provides another option for starting the Dark Mountain Trail.

5. Widow’s Creek Trailhead: This access point is located along Widow’s Creek Road, near the intersection with Dark Mountain Road. It offers an alternative starting point for the Dark Mountain Trail.

6. Dark Hollow Trailhead: This access point is located along Dark Hollow Road, near the intersection with Dark Mountain Road. It provides another option for accessing the Dark Mountain Trail.

7. Dark Mountain Overlook: This is not a trailhead, but it is a notable point along the Dark Mountain Trail. It offers a scenic overlook of the surrounding mountains and is a popular spot for hikers to take a break and enjoy the view.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Dark Mountain Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Dark Mountain Shuttle – Shuttle service specifically catering to Dark Mountain Trail hikers.
2. Mountain Taxi – Reliable taxi service operating in the vicinity of Dark Mountain Trail.
3. Trailblazer Transport – Transportation service offering convenient rides to and from Dark Mountain Trail.
4. Hike & Ride – Dedicated transportation service for outdoor enthusiasts visiting Dark Mountain Trail.
5. Adventure Bus – Bus service providing transportation options for adventurers exploring Dark Mountain Trail.
6. Trail Trekker – Specialized transportation service for hikers and nature lovers visiting Dark Mountain Trail.
7. Mountain Mover – Transportation service offering seamless rides to and from Dark Mountain Trail.
8. Trail Hopper – Shuttle service designed for easy access to Dark Mountain Trail.
9. Outdoor Express – Transportation service catering to outdoor enthusiasts visiting Dark Mountain Trail.
10. Hike Shuttle – Shuttle service providing convenient transportation options for Dark Mountain Trail visitors.


The amenities available at the Dark Mountain Trail may vary, but typically include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail. These could be portable toilets or permanent restroom buildings.

2. Parking: There is usually a designated parking area or parking lot near the trailhead where visitors can park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Dark Mountain Trail may offer designated camping sites for overnight stays. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water sources.

4. Picnic Areas: There might be designated picnic areas along the trail or near the trailhead. These areas usually have picnic tables, benches, and sometimes grills for visitors to enjoy outdoor meals.

5. Water Sources: Depending on the location, there may be access to water sources such as rivers, streams, or lakes. Visitors can use these sources for various activities like fishing, swimming, or simply enjoying the view.

6. Trail Markers and Signage: The trail is typically marked with signs and trail markers to guide hikers and ensure they stay on the designated path.

7. Information Boards: There may be information boards or kiosks at the trailhead providing details about the trail, its difficulty level, safety guidelines, and any specific rules or regulations.

8. Benches and Rest Areas: Along the trail, there might be benches or rest areas where hikers can take a break, relax, and enjoy the surroundings.

9. Trash Receptacles: To maintain cleanliness, there are usually trash receptacles placed at regular intervals along the trail or near the trailhead.

10. Interpretive Displays: Some trails may have interpretive displays or educational signs that provide information about the local flora, fauna, geology, or history of the area.

It is important to note that amenities can vary depending on the specific location and management of the Dark Mountain Trail. It is recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the most accurate and up-to-date information on available amenities.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging: Dark Mountain Campground – A scenic campground located near the trailhead, offering tent and RV sites.
2. Lodging: Dark Mountain Lodge – A cozy lodge nestled in the mountains, providing comfortable rooms and stunning views.
3. Food Services: Dark Mountain Café – A charming café serving delicious meals and refreshing beverages for hikers and visitors.
4. Food Services: Dark Mountain Grill – A casual grill offering a variety of tasty dishes, perfect for satisfying your hunger after a long hike.
5. Emergency Services: Dark Mountain Medical Center – A well-equipped medical center providing emergency care and first aid services.
6. Emergency Services: Dark Mountain Fire Station – A fire station located nearby, ensuring quick response to any emergencies in the area.

Dark Mountain Trail Difficulty Notes

The Dark Mountain Trail is known for its challenging and demanding nature, making it a difficult trail for hikers. With steep ascents, rugged terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions, this trail requires a high level of physical fitness and endurance. The trail is often narrow and rocky, requiring careful navigation and concentration. Additionally, the trail’s length and elevation gain can be overwhelming for inexperienced hikers. However, those who are up for the challenge will be rewarded with breathtaking views, serene wilderness, and a sense of accomplishment upon completing this demanding trail.

Features And Attractions

The Dark Mountain Trail is a popular hiking trail located in North Carolina, USA. While I cannot provide an exhaustive list, here are some scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that you may encounter along the Dark Mountain Trail:

1. Dark Mountain: The trail itself offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the nearby Dark Mountain.

2. Stone Mountain State Park: Located near the trail, this state park offers breathtaking views of Stone Mountain, a massive granite dome.

3. Widow’s Creek Falls: A beautiful waterfall located near the trail, offering a serene and picturesque spot to rest and enjoy the scenery.

4. Historical Sites: The area surrounding the Dark Mountain Trail is rich in history, with various historical sites nearby. Some notable ones include the Hutchinson Homestead, a preserved 19th-century farmstead, and the Brinegar Cabin, a historic log cabin.

5. Blue Ridge Parkway: The Dark Mountain Trail is located near the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic road that offers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and various overlooks along the way.

6. Doughton Park: This park, located near the trail, offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as opportunities for wildlife spotting.

7. Bluff Mountain: A prominent peak in the area, Bluff Mountain offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and is a popular spot for hikers.

8. Natural Landmarks: The Dark Mountain Trail is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with lush forests, meandering streams, and diverse wildlife.

Please note that it’s always a good idea to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on the trail and its surroundings.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Dark Mountain Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is permitted only in designated camping areas along the trail.
3. Open fires are strictly prohibited. Use only designated fire pits or stoves for cooking.
4. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please carry out all trash and dispose of it properly.
5. Hunting or trapping is not allowed on the Dark Mountain Trail.
6. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
7. Respect seasonal restrictions, such as closures during hunting seasons or extreme weather conditions.
8. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
9. Leave natural and historical features undisturbed. Do not remove or damage any plants, rocks, or artifacts.
10. Follow all safety guidelines and regulations provided by the trail management or park authorities.

Seasonal Information

The Dark Mountain Trail, located in the beautiful state of North Carolina, offers a stunning outdoor experience for hikers and nature enthusiasts. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the most popular times to explore the Dark Mountain Trail is during the spring season, from March to May. During this time, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers, lush greenery, and cascading waterfalls. The weather is generally mild, making it perfect for hiking and enjoying the scenic views. Spring also brings an abundance of wildlife, including birds and small mammals, making it a great time for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.

Another fantastic time to visit the Dark Mountain Trail is during the fall season, from September to November. The trail is surrounded by a breathtaking display of autumn colors as the leaves change, creating a picturesque landscape. The cooler temperatures make hiking more comfortable, and the crisp air adds to the overall experience. Fall is also a great time for photography enthusiasts, as the vibrant foliage provides endless opportunities for capturing stunning shots.

It’s important to note that the Dark Mountain Trail does not have any seasonal closures. However, it’s always a good idea to check for any temporary closures or trail maintenance before planning your visit. Additionally, it’s recommended to bring appropriate gear and be prepared for changing weather conditions, especially during the winter months when the trail may be covered in snow or ice. Overall, the Dark Mountain Trail offers a memorable experience throughout the year, with each season bringing its own unique charm and beauty.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces near the trailhead with sufficient space for wheelchair users to easily enter and exit their vehicles.
2. Accessible Trailhead: A level and paved area at the beginning of the trail, allowing wheelchair users to easily access the trail.
3. Wide and Paved Trail: The trail is wide enough and paved, providing a smooth surface for wheelchair users to navigate.
4. Gradual Slopes: The trail has gentle slopes, making it easier for wheelchair users to traverse.
5. Rest Areas with Benches: Periodic rest areas along the trail with benches, allowing wheelchair users to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
6. Accessible Restrooms: Restrooms near the trailhead that are designed to accommodate wheelchair users.
7. Signage and Information: Clear signage and information boards along the trail, providing accessible information for all visitors, including those with disabilities.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails are installed at appropriate locations along the trail to provide additional support and safety for wheelchair users.
9. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas near the trail that are designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, with accessible tables and seating.
10. Assistance Animals: The trail allows the presence of service animals to assist individuals with disabilities.
11. Accessible Water Fountains: Accessible water fountains are available near the trailhead and other designated areas.
12. Accessible Interpretive Programs: Interpretive programs and guided tours that are accessible for individuals with disabilities, providing an inclusive experience for all visitors.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Dark Mountain Trail is a moderately difficult trail with some steep sections and uneven terrain, suitable for experienced hikers.
2. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate the trail’s challenging terrain.
3. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast before starting the trail and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.
4. Trail Markings: Pay attention to trail markers and signs to stay on the designated path and avoid getting lost.
5. Hydration: Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout the hike, as there are limited water sources along the trail.
6. Wildlife Encounter: Be cautious of potential encounters with wildlife, such as snakes or bears, and know how to react appropriately.
7. Emergency Contact: Inform someone about your hiking plans and estimated return time, and carry a fully charged cell phone for emergencies.
8. First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic, and pain relievers in case of minor injuries.
9. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
10. Trail Etiquette: Respect other hikers by yielding the right of way, keeping noise levels down, and leaving no trace of your visit.
11. Trail Closure: Check for any trail closures or restrictions before heading out, as maintenance or safety concerns may temporarily close the trail.
12. Hiking Buddy: Consider hiking with a partner or in a group for added safety and support during the Dark Mountain Trail hike.

Conservation Notes

The Dark Mountain Trail, located in the state of North Carolina, is a popular hiking destination known for its scenic beauty and diverse wildlife. In terms of conservation status, the trail falls under the jurisdiction of the Uwharrie National Forest, which is managed by the United States Forest Service. The Uwharrie National Forest is dedicated to preserving and protecting the natural resources found within its boundaries, including the Dark Mountain Trail.

As part of the Uwharrie National Forest, the Dark Mountain Trail is subject to various conservation measures aimed at maintaining the ecological integrity of the area. These measures include the enforcement of regulations to prevent habitat destruction, the control of invasive species, and the promotion of sustainable recreational activities. The Forest Service works closely with local conservation organizations and volunteers to monitor and manage the trail, ensuring that it remains a sustainable and enjoyable outdoor experience for visitors.

Efforts are also made to protect the wildlife that inhabits the Dark Mountain Trail. The Uwharrie National Forest is home to a variety of species, including black bears, white-tailed deer, and numerous bird species. Conservation initiatives focus on preserving the natural habitats of these animals, minimizing disturbances, and promoting responsible behavior among trail users. By maintaining a healthy and balanced ecosystem, the Dark Mountain Trail contributes to the overall conservation goals of the Uwharrie National Forest and helps protect the biodiversity of the region.

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