Shortoff Mountain

  • Highlights: Rocky summit, amazing views
  • Distance: 5 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change 1,200 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with numerous rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate/strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Wold Pit Road, Nebo NC. Follow the dirt road all the way to the end and park on the side of the road.
  • Website: AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Fonta Flora Brewery—Well I’ll Be! & Nebo Pilsner

Trail Map:

The Hike:

This is a popular hike with great views. The narrow road to the trailhead is dirt/gravel and the last mile or so has some washed out sections. We saw several 2-wheel drive cars in the parking area. Take your time and avoid the road following heavy rain or snow. 

The parking area can accommodate about 25 vehicles. This trailhead (and parking area) also serves part of the Mountain to the Sea Trail. Signs warn not to park on private property. The parking area was less than half full when we arrived on a June Saturday morning at 9am and was nearly full after our hike.

A trailhead kiosk has a map and information about the Pisgah National Forest. Much of this trail is not shaded. On hot, sunny days, pack sunscreen and lots of water. This section of the trail is unmarked but obvious. Follow the rocky trail uphill for .2 miles. A small sign points to the Shortoff Mountain Trail on the right.

Bear right here and follow the unmarked trail. The climb is steep and rocky in sections. Switchbacks and stone steps help with the ascent. Views of nearby Lake James open up as you climb. The best is yet to come.

At 1 mile, reach a junction with the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST). A sign points right to Shortoff Mountain. Bear right here and follow the Mountains to Sea Trail. This section is blazed with white dots. The amazing views begin shortly. Each switchback or turn in the trail seems to have even better views.

Wildfires in 2002 and 2007 resulted in numerous open vistas. Wildflowers enjoy the open sunlight. Mountain Laurel were at the end of their blooms and rhododendron were just statring to bloom. 

Numerous unmarked spur trails on the left lead to majestic views of the Linville Gorge. The Linville River flows over 1,200 feet below. Follow the white blazes and eventually the trail levels out as it reaches the ridge line. At 2.5 miles, a short spur to the left leads to some of the best views of the gorge. Views to the northwest include Linville Mountain, Table Rock, and Hawkbill Mountain. 

The trail continues; however, this is a great turn around spot. Enjoy the fantastic views and retrace your steps following the MST southbound, bear left at the two junctions to return to the parking area.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Fonta Flora Brewery is located about 20 minutes from the trailhead in Nebo NC. Located at Whippoorwill Farm, a former dairy farm, they have 12 taps of craft beer—all brewed with local ingredients. Indoor and outdoor seating are available and the Singlewyde Food Truck is onsite Thursday-Sunday.

Pete enjoyed Nebo Pilsner (5.2% ABV), crisp and refreshing—perfect after a long hike. Kathy really liked Well, I’ll Be! (5.2% ABV), a hazy pale ale dry-hopped with citra, galaxy, and mosaic hops. This brewery has a nice farm to glass vibe and is a solid post-hike destination for a cold beer.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.