Brown Mountain is a 2,600-foot peak in the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina and is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountain is famed for being the site of unexplained nighttime lights that, according to local legend, have been appearing there for more than 800 years. Observation of the lights is best done at night from different overlook locations off of the mountain. The mountain and surrounding area have many trails for those interested in daytime recreation.
Harper Creek Falls Trail
The Harper Creek Falls Trail is a hiking trail that can be accessed via a parking area located off of Brown Mountain Beach Road/Wilson Creek Road. The trail is 2.4 miles round trip and follows along the Harper Creek. Hikers who follow the trail to the end will be rewarded with a view of waterfalls. The trail is not suitable for bicycles or other vehicles. Hikers should use caution as there are some steep drop-offs, and the ground could be slick when wet. There is no fee to use the trail.
Thorps Creek Trail
The Thorps Creek Trail, numbered 279, is a 4.6-mile loop trail. The no-fee trail is suitable for hiking and horseback riding but does carry a most difficult rating, but the 15-foot waterfall is a short distance from the start of the hike and is easy to access. The trail starts at Mortimer Campground, which can be accessed off of North Carolina 90 just off of Beach Mountain Road.
Schoolhouse Ridge and the Schoolhouse Ridge Loop are dirt-road-style trails that are suitable for mountain biking and horseback riding. The road is gated to prevent motor vehicle access. The Schoolhouse Ridge trail is a 10-mile loop trail, and the Schoolhouse Ridge Loop is a 13.6-mile loop trail. The trails follow Wilson Creek for part of the distance. The trail has sharp turns, steep drops and is uneven in spots. There is no fee to use the trail.
Brown Mountain OHV Trail
The Brown Mountain Off Highway Vehicle Trail is a 34-mile trail that can be rugged in spots, which ranges from easy to difficult along its length. The trail is open to mountain bikes, ATVs and four-wheel drive vehicles. The full 34 miles is open to mountain bikes. Motorized vehicles can make use of 14 miles of trail. In most spots, the trail is not wide enough to allow for two-way traffic. The trail is open April 1 to Jan. 1. At the time of publication, there is a fee of $5 per day to use the trail, or a season pass can be purchased for $30.
- Western NC Attractions: Brown Mountain Lights
- Mountain Zone: Brown Mountain Summit -- North Carolina Mountain Peak Information
- NC Waterfalls: Harper Creek Falls
- U.S. Forest Service: National Forests in North Carolina
- Caldwell County: Walking & Hiking Trails
- ATV Trails: Brown Mountain Trail North Carolina