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Rhododendron Trail

The view from Mount Jefferson State Natural Area
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Status of Park Facilities as of June 2   

Hiking trails and restrooms are open.  Picnic Shelter remains closed.

 Last updated on: Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Rhododendron Trail

Rhododendron Trail Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

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.

Trail Location: 
The trailhead is near the terminus of the Summit Trail.
Trail Point of Interest: 
The trail is most beautiful in early June when the magnificent purple-flowered Catawba rhododendron is in bloom.
Trail Length: 
1.10 miles
Trail Difficulty: 
moderate hike
Trail Use: 
Discovery/Interpretive Trail
Trail Surface: 
natural surface
Trail Blaze: 
Red circle

Map of North Carolina – Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

Contact the park



Park office

1481 Mount Jefferson State Park Road
West Jefferson, NC 28694

GPS: 36.3936, -81.4680



  • Year-round:
    8:00am to sunset
  • Closed Christmas Day


  • Open Monday to Friday:
    8:00am to 5:00pm
  • Closed state holidays