Click the links below to view information about activities for this park.
Hiking: An investment of little more than an hour's time offers a high return as the beauty and diversity of the park are best seen while hiking along its trails. Spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and a closer look at the park's vegetation are just a small part of the rewards reaped from a walk in this mountain forest.
Lost Province Trail: Traveling 0.75 miles along the south-eastern facing slope of Mount Jefferson, the moderate Lost Province Trail explores a virgin oak/chestnut forest, providing views of false Solomon's seal and other understory species.
Summit Trail: Beginning at the parking lot, Summit Trail passes through the picnic ground and ascends 0.3 miles to the highest point on Mount Jefferson. Nearby overlooks provide panoramic views that make this gentle hike a pleasant excursion.
Rhododendron Trail: The trailhead for this strenuous 1.1-mile hike is near the terminus of the summit trail. The trail is most beautiful in early June when the magnificent purple-flowered Catawba rhododendron is in bloom.
The self-guided Rhododendron Trail follows a ridge southeast along the crest of the mountain from the summit to Luther Rock, an outcrop of metamorphosed amphibolite. This black volcanic rock is what gives Mount Jefferson its dark appearance. Here, hikers may look back along the horseshoe-shaped ridge to the summit and tower. Beyond is a spectacular view of neighboring valleys and peaks. On clear days, the New River is visible to the east. Bluffs extend along the ridge below the trail where outcrops of amphibolite are visible in winter.
The return segment of Rhododendron Trail descends the south side of the mountain. As this area is less exposed to the frigid winds of winter, the trees are somewhat larger than those on the ridge. The trail returns to the picnic area parking lot through a rare virgin forest of large northern red oaks and skeletons of American chestnuts.
Education and Events: Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Click the Events link on the Park Menu to the left to search our database of park events.
To arrange a special exploration of Mount Jefferson State Natural Area for your group or class, contact the park office. Mount Jefferson has a rich natural and cultural history, and the area has played an important role in the community. By special request, park rangers and/or local historians can guide you through the natural and cultural history of Mount Jefferson.
Educational materials about Mount Jefferson State Natural Area have been developed for grades 5-7 and are correlated to North Carolina's competency-based curriculum in science, social studies, mathematics and English/language arts. The Mount Jefferson program introduces students to basic geologic processes, rocks and minerals of the area. Accompanying the program is a teacher's booklet and workshop, free of charge to educators. To learn more about environmental education or to search our database of upcoming workshops, please click the Education tab, above.
Picnicking: The picnic area is located in a beautiful wooded location near the summit of Mount Jefferson. Facilities include 19 tables and eight grills. Also included is a six-table handicapped-accessible picnic shelter with a fireplace, large grill and drinking fountain. The shelter may be reserved. Restrooms (not handicapped accessible) are located nearby.
Northern red and chestnut oaks provide a shady spot for picnicking. Chipmunks, woodchucks, squirrels and ravens are often seen nearby.
Special Events: To hold a special event in the park, such as a wedding, a bicycle race or an event that does not fall within normal park activities, event organizers must receive a special activity permit. Click here to download the park's Special Activity Permit application.
N.C. Division of Parks & Recreation • 1615 MSC • Raleigh N.C. 27699-1615