Hiking Shortoff Mountain, The Chimneys, and Table Rock Mountain in North Carolina

Note to my fellow wanderers: This guide was written from my first-hand experiences. I try my best not to over-glamorize any location I travel to because I want HappyWander’s content to be as authentic as possible. My goal is to provide you real information so that you can have the best possible adventures wandering the world. Enjoy!

This was a long, tough hike. If you’re looking for a physical challenge with some great views, hiking Shortoff Mountain, The Chimneys, and Table Rock Mountain fits the bill. In this review, I’ll highlight my experience hiking Shortoff Mountain, The Chimneys, and Table Rock Mountain and everything you need to know to start this adventure on your own.

Overview of Short Off Mountain, The Chimneys, and Table Rock Mountain

Located in the Linville Gorge Wilderness in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, this hiking trail spans 3 mountains: Shortoff Mountain, The Chimneys, and Table Rock Mountain. This trail is not for the faint of heart, and will require mental toughness and grit to finish in one day.

Hiking Shortoff Mountain, The Chimneys, and Table Rock Mountain Trail

This is a map (via alltrails.com) of the route I did starting at Shortoff Trail.

Where to Park

I parked at the Wolf Pit Trailhead, which I’ve embedded below. This was a bit of a rough drive. The roads were gravel and there were some big holes you’ll want to take slow. However, I did drive in with a Sedan, so it is very manageable. Also, there is not much parking at the trailhead, so be sure to arrive early and preferably not on the weekend. I came on a Friday morning at 9:30 am.

Distance Traveled

According to Alltrails.com, I traveled around 14.6 miles, however, other hikers have commented that this hike is roughly 17 miles. I lean towards the 17 miles rather than 14.6. It was a LONG hike. So be prepared for a tough, long journey on this one!

How Long Does it Take to Hike?

I arrived at 9:30 am and finished the hike at 6:30 PM. I did take my time with photos and videos, but you can expect to take a similar amount of time given the steep inclines and difficult terrain.

Elevation Change

This hike is a battle. You can expect to gain over 4000 feet of elevation in total on this hike, which is pretty tough for a one day hike!

Hiking Shortoff Mountain, The Chimneys, and Table Rock Mountain in North Carolina Elevation Gain

Shortoff Mountain to The Chimneys to Table Rock Mountain elevation profile (via alltrails.com)

Difficulty

If you exercise regularly this hike will still be a brute. There are several up and down portions of the hike, some of which are pretty steep and will have you gassed in need of oxygen. You will have to muster up something deep down to get through some of the uphills and rugged terrain, and you feet and legs will take a beating on this one.

Overall, I’d give this hike a 9 / 10 in difficulty.

Permits

You don’t need any permits for this hike.

Cost

There is no cost to go hike Table Rock Mountain (Free, my favorite!).

When to Go

I went in September, and it was an okay experience, but a little hot. It was between 60 and 80 degrees when I went, but I’d prefer to do this one when it’s 20 degrees colder or more due to the physical challenges of this hike. I’d recommend going in late September to April to enjoy cooler temperatures while you struggle.

Recommended Gear

Shortoff Trail to Table Rock Mountain is a fun, tough day hike. I’ll highlight the gear that I brought, as well as additional gear that might benefit you:

  • Layers: Depending on the weather, I’d recommend wearing layers. I wore exercise pants and a dry-fit long-sleeve shirt because I heard much of the path was overgrown (it was).
  • Hiking backpack with straps: If you don’t have a backpack with straps, I recommend you get one. They aren’t too expensive on Amazon. Your shoulders and back will thank you later. This hike will punish your body, so having the right gear will help lessen the beating.
  • Portable charger: If you take a lot of photos / videos like me, you’ll want to bring a portable charger for your phone. I also use the alltrails.com app to navigate so having enough battery is important.
  • Water bladder: If you want to save on weight and also help your backpack be more balanced than carrying a big bottle of water in your bag, a water bladder is important. I personally use a 3L water bladder that lasts an entire 10 hour day hike, which was not quite enough for this hike. I also brought 2 20 ounce water bottles, and I needed them.
  • Hiking shoes: Hiking shoes that are waterproof will benefit you if you go in on this trail. The terrain is very rocky, so tennis shoes will definitely hurt your feet over time.
  • Snacks: Who doesn’t like snacks? While hiking on a long hike like this, you burn lots of calories. My personal go-to’s on this hike were: Honey roasted peanuts, sour gummy worms, protein shakes, and protein bars. I didn’t stop for lunch on this hike but these snacks were more than adequate. But I was starving by the time I finished (more on my dinner of choice later).
  • Bug spray: I read that much of the trail is overgrown, a “bushwhack.” I used bug spray because ticks were probably feasting on hikers doing this trail, I also wore long sleeves to avoid getting bit by ticks.
  • First aid kit: It’s a good idea to bring Band-Aids, a bandage, and some cut cleaning items. I have needed band-aids in the past from slipping on rocks, but I did not on this hike.
  • Sunscreen: It was quite sunny on this hike, and places where my skin was exposed for minutes at a time. Nothing is worse turning into a tomato after your hike.
  • Flashlight: The sun still had about an hour left when I finished this hike, but you may need one as it’s a long hike and you don’t know what could happen along the way.

Nice to Have Gear:

Here are a few items that would make your Hanging Rock hiking experience even better:

  • Shoe impact insoles: These can help as you traverse hard rocks along the way.
  • Phone tripod: There wasn’t a ton of room to use a phone tripod but there may be a few spots to use one to get good pictures of you and your loved one(s).

The Play By Play: My Route Hiking Shortoff Mountain, The Chimneys, and Table Rock Mountain

So what’s it like hiking Wolf Pit Trailhead to Table Rock Mountain? It’s a brutal hike! If you’re not in good cardio shape and don’t workout much, I’d recommend not doing this hike. At roughly 16 to 17 miles in length and more than 4000 feet of elevation gains, this hike will kick your butt from morning to evening!

Wolf Pitt Trailhead

This trail starts at Wolf Pitt Trailhead, which is a pretty tight area for parking. There isn’t a lot of parking in the area that I saw, and the road up to this trailhead was gravel and rough. The trailhead starts going up almost immediately, so be prepared to get your heart rate up heading towards Shortoff Mountain.

Shortoff Trail

Shortoff Trail, as mentioned in the previous section, starts almost immediately going up in altitude. Don’t over exert yourself because there are many more uphills to go after Shortoff Trail, try to conserve your energy and take a slower pace going up this one.

The trail itself is very interesting, with opportunities to look back and see Linville River behind you.

I was a little cocky going up this part of the trail, going up at a pretty quick pace. But in hindsight, I would have taken it a little slower to conserve energy.

Shortoff Mountain

Shortoff Trail takes you Mountain to Sea Trail, which is where Shortoff Mountain is located. This doesn’t feel like a mountain because it’s very flat at the top for several miles. You can expect to see some decent views off to your left, with a few spots to take pictures on overhanging rocks:

 

Mountains to Sea Trail

As you continue past Shortoff Mountain, this part of the hike was long and boring. There were several miles on top of Shortoff Mountain that looked the same. You’ll start declining towards the valley between Shortoff Mountain and The Chimneys. On the way back, this part of the hike will hurt you. Also, this part of the trail is heavily overgrown, you’ll be “bushwhacking” for several miles, slapping bushes and spiderwebs out of your face.

As you get to the valley between the two mountains, get ready for a very difficult, steep incline heading towards The Chimneys. This was a brutal section, and I was sweating and out of breath multiple times going up.

Before you get up to the Chimneys, there is a beautiful area that overlooks a lot of the elevation you just climbed. This was one of my favorite views so I decided to take a 15 minute break here to drink water and eat some snacks.

After some snacks and water, there is still a battle to get up to The Chimneys.

The Chimneys

The Chimneys were pretty awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the many interesting rock surfaces to explore, as well as the GREAT Appalachian Mountain views for quite a while on this part of the trail.

I highly recommend looking for little paths up towards the tops of various rock faces, that’s where the views and photo opportunities come in.

If you like bouldering, The Chimneys won’t disappoint.

After you finish going through The Chimneys, it’s an easy hike towards a parking lot (which you could start here for a much easier hike), which then turns into Table Rock Mountain.

Table Rock Mountain

 

Get ready for a LONG hike back, you’ll have to go back up and down all the mountains you just came from. This is pretty brutal, so I just recommend turning your brain off and bring out your inner beast.

After Hike Dinner

After hiking Hanging Rock State Park, I chose to get some protein. I went to Chick-Fila and got the 30 piece chicken nuggets. I ate them so fast in the car on the way home I forgot to take a photo. Oops!

About My Experience Hiking Table Rock Mountain

Overall, hiking Shortoff Mountain to The Chimneys to Table Rock Mountain was a great experience. You have to be kind of a rare breed to enjoy suffering, so if you do, this one is for you! By the time you reach Table Rock Mountain and rest for a bit while enjoying the views, you’ll come to the realization that you have another 8-9 miles left going back where you came from. Ouch! Both of my thighs had cramps, which has never happened before. By the time you finally sit down in your car after the hike, you’ll be thinking about how much of a beast you are.

Favorite Parts

Here are a few of my favorite parts of hiking Shortoff Trail to Table Rock Mountain:

The Chimneys: The Chimneys were awesome. I had so much fun exploring the different rock formations around the Chimneys, and there are plenty of bouldering opportunities. There are also spots to take great photos on some of the Chimneys, particularly the long ledge area with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.

Table Rock Mountain:

Least Favorite Parts

Here are a few of my least favorite parts of this hike:

Shortoff Mountain: The climb up was enjoyable with some nice colorful plants, but Shortoff Mountain itself is not much of a mountain as there is no peak. It’s just a flat boring section of hiking that is pretty exposed to the sun.

More than half of Mountain to Sea Trail: While I enjoyed the trail leading to Shortoff Mountain, after you pass Shortoff Mountain, it is QUITE boring up until you start climbing up towards The Chimneys. Also, the trails after Shortoff to the uphill portion headed to the Chimneys are VERY overgrown. You will be pushing bushes out of your face for a couple hours, as well as spider webs and everything else nature throws at you.

Overall Score

Shortoff Mountain to The Chimneys to Table Rock Mountain is a nice long hike you should definitely do if you’re in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains. I give it a 7 / 10, mostly because of The Chimneys and Table Rock Mountain. If you skipped the first half of this hike, I’d rate this an 8.3 / 10.

Final Thoughts on Hiking Table Rock Mountain in North Carolina

Shortoff Mountain to The Chimneys to Table Rock Mountain is a great hike to add to your list if you live in North Carolina, Virginia, or the surrounding areas. I enjoyed several parts of this hike, mostly the views and scrambles at The Chimneys and Table Rock Mountain. If you want to challenge yourself mentally and physically, this is a hike in the Appalachian Mountains to do so! Happy wandering!

Anthony Bart
Author: Anthony Bart

Hello! Welcome to HappyWanders! My name is Anthony, I'm on a mission to live a life full of adventure and to help you to do the same. As an ex-corporate worker and current entrepreneur, I've been working to design a life with more time for adventure and less time for the 9-5 grind. If you're ready for an adventure, you're my type of person!

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