The Graybeard Trail is a 9-mile out-and-back trail in the Montreat area of Black Mountain, North Carolina. It is well blazed with blue, plastic diamonds. The ample signage and maintenance are some of the best I’ve seen since visiting Pearson’s Falls & Glen.
The first half of the trail follows a creek with many small waterfalls. It is packed with boulders and is densely shaded during the warmer months. You will be walking on mud, rocks, and roots regardless of the season. A little past the halfway mark, the trail veers left onto an old forestry road.
It’s funny; you see people turn around at the forestry road, not knowing that they’ve already climbed the most challenging part of the trail (for the most part). Once on the old road, the trail mostly follows the contour of the mountain. It’s a slight incline, but it’s very easy hiking. For much of this stretch, you walk on soft beds of pine needle.
Eventually, you see signage for Greybeard Falls just past a switchback. There’s a cozy campsite at this spot. After the waterfall, the climb becomes relatively steep again for the last half mile or so until the Walker Knob Shelter. The shelter is pretty big and there’s a large, established campsite here. From this intersection, you can take a short, orange-blazed trail to the knob (scenic overlook).
After this section, there’s a 1+ mile trek to the summit of Greybeard Mountain. I turned around here because I was on a tight timetable. It took me 90 minutes to climb to Walker Knob and 60 minutes to get back down. Climbing to the top probably would have added another 40 minutes to the hike.
Walker Knob offers majestic views of the peaks of the Black Mountains, called the Seven Sisters. The summit supposedly offers views of Mt Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River.
This is a popular trail that can get crowded with families and pets. But once you reach the old forestry road, the crowd tends to thin out. Most of the trail is overrun with rocks and roots, so I recommend trekking poles for added balance.