There’s a vast and natural beauty hidden away in the mountains and foothills near Maggie Valley, and now there’s a new way to explore it. If you love hiking – or just enjoy being out in nature – then you’ll definitely want to check out the new 2.1-mile hiking trail that will take you to the summit of Youngs Mountain in Lake Lure. About an hour away from the Meadowlark Motel, you’ll find rocky outcrops and exposed cliffs that deliver an exhilarating thrill. The climb is a challenge, but the panoramic views at the top are worth every step.

The Youngs Mountain Trail is the latest project by Conserving Carolina, a non-profit conservation organization that works to preserve water and land resources in Western North Carolina. Completed at the end of April 2021, the trail winds and climbs its way through 437 acres of stunning nature and might just be the crowning jewel of the entire Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail network.

This state-of-the-art trail was focused on sustainability to reduce erosion, protect the local water quality, and cut back on the need for future trail maintenance. Rolling hills, sidewinding curves, durable locust logs, and stone drains were all incorporated into the design to help carry water away from the trails. It’s all constructed so you can enjoy the amazing nature in North Carolina while knowing that it’s protected at the same time.

Rising 1200 feet in elevation, the trail leads you through a haven of biodiversity. The area is a critical habitat for over 380 plant and animal species, including 25 rare species. Marvel at this protected space as you weave your way under overhanging rocks and around sheer cliff edges. You’ll find strategically placed steps to help you along the way, but don’t let that fool you. This hike is not for the faint of heart. It may be too difficult for pets or small children. (Tip: Leave the kids with a sitter and turn your hike into a romantic date!)

The lower part of the trail is a beautiful (and moderately challenging) walk in the woods, crossing rolling hills, forested glades, and passing by burbling brooks. There’s a cascading waterfall about half a mile in, where you can pause to catch your breath and soak up the beauty of nature. Take a moment to enjoy the rest because the hike is about to get steep.

You’ll get a little assistance with over 300 log and stone steps that are incorporated into the mountainside, but you’re definitely going to get a workout. Take advantage of the lookout points along the way to enjoy a breather and drink in the dramatic views of surrounding cliffs, valleys, lakes and mountains.

The hike culminates at the summit of Youngs Mountain, and the views are absolutely worth it! Watch as the sun glistens off of Lake Lure below. Marvel at the sights of Rumbling Bald, Shumont Mountain, and Eagle Rock. On a clear day, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains in the distance. Take it all in and then hike back the way you came.

One important detail to make note of: the trail is located on privately protected land and has limited parking. You will actually need to register to get one of the spots. You can go here to register.

After an invigorating day hiking through some of the most gorgeous nature in the Smoky Mountains, you can get some well-deserved rest in one of our Appalachian chic motel rooms or secluded cabins in Maggie Valley. Book online here, or give us a call at 828-926-1717.

Meadowlark owner, Joseph Franklyn McElroy hosts the Gateway to the Smokies podcast. Tune into this episode to hear about more of the incredible opportunities for hiking near Maggie Valley and the Smoky Mountains.