The popular 1.5-mile (one way) hike to the 5,721-foot summit is a great place to stop along the Parkway to stretch your legs. This will be a 750 foot climb to the top in the last mile and will make for a good workout. The total hike will be 3 miles round-trip. Leaving from the Pisgah Inn parking lot, we will take the Buck Springs trail 1.1 miles, pass by the Buck Springs overlook and over to the Mount Pisgah parking lot, then quick through the easy section and a bit slower through the hard section (rocky and steep) all the way to the top to the observation deck. At the summit, you’ll find the transmission tower for WLOS-TV Channel 13 from Asheville and an observation deck. Try not to let the transmission tower ruin the wilderness feel. The view is spectacular. On a clear day, you can see the parking area, the Pisgah Inn, the Shining Rock Wilderness to your west with the famous Cold Mountain at its northern end, the Great Smoky Mountains far to the west and Asheville and Mount Mitchell to the North.
Take the Blue Ridge Parkway north from Sylva to Milepost 407.6
Mount Pisgah is named after the biblical mountain from which Moses first saw the promised land. When the Cherokee were the land’s only inhabitants, the mountain was named Elseetoss and what we now know as the Pisgah Ridge was named Warwasseeta. The now official name carried on to the National Forest which now surrounds the mountain and also to a ranger district within the national forest.Most of these lands were bought as part of the original tract owned by George W. Vanderbilt, builder of the famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Vanderbilt also constructed the Buck Spring Lodge, just north of the current Pisgah Inn and below Mt. Pisgah’s summit, which was to be his mountaintop hunting retreat. You can reach the lodge site by hiking 0.2 mile south from the first parking area on the spur road to the hike’s start. He constructed the Shut-In Trail to climb the Pisgah Ridge to his lodge below the summit of Mt. Pisgah. This trail, still in use today, closely follows the current Blue Ridge Parkway. Later, much of the property Vanderbilt owned was eventually sold to the government to become the core of the Pisgah National Forest, but not before the first forestry school in the country was established nearby. Vanderbilt needed to manage his vast holdings of forested lands. Therefore, he and his landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead and forest manager Gifford Pinchot created the country’s first school of forestry in the area now known as the Cradle of Forestry, accessible on US 276 South of Mt. Pisgah.