Blue Ridge Parkway | ALLIGATOR BACK OVERLOOK (MP 242.4)

View of The Bluffs from the Alligator Back Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View of The Bluffs from the Alligator Back Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ / 5
Trails: Bluff Mountain Trail / Mountain to Sea Trail
Picnic Tables: None

When you enter the parking lot at the Alligator Back overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it appears to be just another overlook where the view was lost long ago to trees and other vegetation. However, there is an actual observation platform that can’t be seen from the car. When looking at the Alligator Back identification sign, walk around to the right and you will see the overlook. There is a limited, but clear view of the mountains along with a wayside exhibit about the predators that live in the area (bears, wolves, hawks, etc., not perverts).

Viewing platform at the Alligator Back Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Viewing platform at the Alligator Back Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from the observation platform at the Alligator Back Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from the observation platform at the Alligator Back Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

HIKE TO THE BLUFFS OVERLOOK

Distance: .8 mile round trip
Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous

For one of the best views on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you must hike .4 mile on a mountainous trail to a view of The Bluffs. A connector trail at the left side of the Alligator Back parking lot takes you to the Bluff Mountain Trail / Mountains to Sea Trail.

Connector to the Bluff Mountain Trail at the Alligator Back Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Connector to the Bluff Mountain Trail at the Alligator Back Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

You will be on the connector trail for just a minute or so before coming to the intersection with the main trail—take a left towards the summit (there is a directional sign at the intersection). The trail is uphill all the way, but the steepness is soon alleviated by switchbacks. Despite this, the grade still averages 15%, which is the start of strenuous hiking. There are also a few staircases that you must climb, so keep that in mind if stairs give you a problem. And if these obstacles aren’t enough for you, the trail surface is full of rocks and tree roots.

Steep uphill climb on the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Bluff Mountain Trail to the Bluffs Overlook

Steep uphill climb on the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Bluff Mountain Trail to the Bluffs Overlook

You will know when you arrive at The Bluffs viewing area, for you start out hiking through the forest and in about fifteen minutes the trail emerges into the open and you will see the mountains.

Arriving at The Bluffs viewing area via the Bluff Mountain Trai on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Arriving at The Bluffs viewing area via the Bluff Mountain Trai on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The view of The Bluffs is clear of any obstructions. It is not a 360° view because you are on the side of the mountain, not at the top, but it is an excellent view nonetheless. Unless you are actually hiking to the top of Bluff Mountain, this is as far as you need to go, so when done, turn around and head back to the parking lot. Allow about a 45 minutes for the round trip visit.

View of The Bluffs from the Bluff Mountain Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View of The Bluffs from the Bluff Mountain Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Panoramic view of The Bluffs, Blue Ridge Parkway (click to enlarge)

Panoramic view of The Bluffs, Blue Ridge Parkway (click to enlarge)

For more information about trails in the area, including the Bluff Mountain Trail, see the Doughton Park Hiking Trails web page.

The Mountains to Sea Trail runs from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the North Carolina Outer Banks. However, the MTS is really just a combination of many existing trails with maybe a few unique segments created to connect these together. Here at the Alligator Back Overlook it follows the path of the Bluff Mountain Trail. Visit the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail website for more information on this 1000+ mile trail across North Carolina.


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Last updated on November 3, 2023
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