Click the links below to view information about activities for this park.
Camping: Elk Knob State Park has recently opened backcountry campsites. It is an enjoyable hike down into a cove forest with beautiful streams. There are 3 individual sites that can accommodate no more than 6 people and two tents each, 2 group sites that can accommodate up to 25 people and is for organized groups, and a zone camping area that can accommodate 3 sites of no more than 6 people and two tents each. These are primitive sites with no facilities except one pit toilet to be shared by the 2 group sites. The closest sites are approximately a one mile hike and the farthest one is approximately a 2 mile hike. All supplies, including water, must be packed to the sites. To drink water from nearby creeks and streams, use a filtration device or boil the water for at least five minutes. Camp fires are not allowed. Cooking by camp stove is permitted. Reservations are required for the group sites while the other sites are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: Elk Knob State Park allows many activities not offered at other State Parks including cross country skiing and snowshoeing. We strive to keep the park open in extreme winter conditions when many other parks are forced to close. This allows for unprecedented State Park access during some of the most extreme winter conditions. While we welcome cross country skiing and snowshoeing, snow boarding is not allowed at Elk Knob State Park.
Education and Events: Park rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Elk Knob State Park. Watch for notices of these programs on park displays and through local media. To arrange a special exploration of Elk Knob State Park for your group or class, contact the park office. Elk Knob has a rich natural and cultural history, and by special request, park rangers will do on-site and outreach environmental education programs. School groups may be eligible for the Youth in Parks Environmental Education program sponsored by Friends of State Parks. This program is designed to offset the cost of school field trips at North Carolina State Parks. Contact the park office for additional information.
The Appalachian Studies Department at Appalachian State University is working with park staff to provide programming rich in southern Appalachian history and culture. Traditional music, story-telling and mountain crafts, for example, are demonstrated at the park amphitheater.
In June, novice campers are invited to join the park’s rangers for an exciting night of camping. The Great American Backyard Campout introduces families to the delights of camping without the expense of buying equipment. The park provides tents, dinner, s'mores, and entertainment. This annual event is free to the public.
In September the park hosts the Elk Knob Community Heritage Day. For generations local folk have gathered in the gap of Elk Knob to visit with one another. The Elk Knob Community Heritage Day is an annual celebration of this tradition. Participants share a covered dish meal while enjoying historical demonstrations, wagon rides and music. The Appalachian Studies Department of Appalachian State University will be on site to collect and share oral traditions, history, and photos. The is no charge for this event.
Hiking: The 1.9-mile (one way, advanced) Summit Trail was completed with the help of over 6,000 hours provided by many volunteers over a five year span. The beautiful and well maintained trail is a big part of the adventure but the breathtaking view from the top is the icing on the cake. Upon reaching the summit of Elk Knob hikers have spectacular views of The Peak, Three Top and Bluff Mountains, Mount Jefferson, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Mt Rodgers (Va.), and the Iron Mountains in Virginia and Tennessee.
The 2-mile (one way, moderate) Backcountry Trail winds down into a valley where the backcountry campsites are located. The Backcountry Trail is known for the headwaters of the North Fork of the New River and the spring bloom of the Trout Lily.
The Beech Tree Trail-our Kid's Track Trail-is an easy 1-mile loop around the picnic area. The majority of the trail penetrates a large American Beech forest at 4,500 ft. The Kid’s Track Trail is part of the Kids in Parks initiative. This program rewards kids with small prizes for their hiking achievements.
The 1-mile Maple Run Trail (still under construction) is designed for cross country skiing and hiking. This easy loop trail connects the office to the trailhead parking area. Wake Robin and Giant Trilliums may be seen from the trail in spring.
Nature Photography: Throughout Elk Knob State Park, wildflowers cover the forest floor with an abundance of color from early spring through the fall. Professional photographers, as well as the hobbyist, will find beautiful wildflower and breathtaking landscape photo opportunities.
Picnicking: A small picnic area is available. There are 11 picnic sites with grills and tables. Two of the sites are handicapped accessible.