Lookout & Rattlesnake Mountains (1-27-14)
Lying along the east side of the bowl of mountains which surround the town of Montreat in the Central Appalachians of Western North Carolina, Lookout and Rattlesnake Mountains offer a nice workout for those seeking rather spectacular views for minimal effort in the Black Mountains area. Montreat, a scenic little town surrounding the college which shares its name, maintains a fairly extensive trail network which surrounds the community and leads to many of the peaks and ridges in the vicinity. Lookout and Rattlesnake are two of the more popular destinations on that trail system. Though neither one reaches above the 4,000' mark, the rocky summits of these two peaks offer a unique view of the surrounding mountains and valley's including the more famous Seven Sister Range on the other side of the Montreat bowl and the massive Black Mountain Range beyond.
I had never hiked in this area before, though I was well aware of its reputation for excellent trails. Striking out on plans for a hike in the nearby Lake Lure area I figured this might be a good 'Plan B' hike and a chance to see what Montreat had to offer. Only being a 3-or-so mile loop in fit into my tight schedule for the day while still offering what looked like a good stretch of the legs and some nice views. Located as it is only a half mile from the campus of Montreat College I honestly expected more foot traffic on the trail but was pleasantly surprised to pass only a handful of people on the entire trip. Overall the hike was a pleasant one, offering all that I expected of it , and I am anticipating a return trip in the not-too-distant future to explore even more of the fabulous trail system in this area...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.643226, -82.291044
Route Type: Lollipop + spur Difficulty: HARD
Hike Length: 3.0 miles Hike Duration: 3:45
Trailhead Temp: 45'F Trail Traffic: 10-25 people
Min. Elevation: 2,950' Max. Elevation: 3,760'
Total Vertical Gain: 1,200' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 400'
Trails Used (blaze color): Hickory Ridge (blue), Lookout (yellow), Old Mitchell Toll Road (unblazed), Old Trestle (white), Rattlesnake (unblazed)