Devil’s Courthouse towers ominously above the beautifully delicate pink beds of Pisgah National Forest. At its summit, a sinister looking rock formation is the stage for a devilish local legend. Folklore tells of a cave at the cliff’s base which the Devil himself used as a cliffside courthouse. He certainly did miss a heavenly view from the top, a view so grand it showcases four states! The Blue Ridge Parkway skirts the ridgeline near the Courthouse and gives view seekers a chance to access its summit by ascending a steep half mile trail. The paved trail begins at the Devil’s Courthouse overlook and ascends through lush mountaintop forestry on its way to the 5,720 foot summit.
What Makes It Great
The eastern side of Pisgah Ledge drops precipitously into the flat and sprawling expanse of River Valley. The gnarled rock formation that makes up the Courthouse’s summit juts out from the side of the ridgeline, providing uninterrupted views. From the peak, lucky on lookers can see South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. A plaque on the mountain’s summit commemorates this notable sight-seeing opportunity with directional arrows point to each of the states.
Who is Going to Love It
Devil’s Courthouse is a canvas that a photographer’s dreams are made of. This quick-hit is literally right off the side of the Parkway. Only a half mile walk gives way to long-range summit views of sunrises and sunsets, as well as lunar and stellar phenomena. Weather rolls up and over Pisgah Ledge with ferocity. The rapidly moving cloud cover and ever changing light at the tail end of a storm make for incredible photo-ops from the Parkway Overlook.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Reaching Devil’s Courthouse from Asheville involves a one hour scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take the Parkway south from Diamond Brand Outdoors’ Parkway Center location. After passing through Devil’s Courthouse Tunnel, a parking area will appear on your left at milepost 422.4. The trail to the Courthouse’s summit begins from the overlook.
There is no fee for use of the trail, but special regulations do apply to this area. A fragile, high altitude ecosystem exists on the rock face: rock gnome lichen, spreading avens, and peregrine falcons call Devil’s Courthouse their home. Please respect the delicate plant and animal life by staying on the trail at all times and restricting your summit experience to the pedestrian overlook.
Featured image provided by Joe Giordano