Guide to Bearwallow Mountain Trail
The 2-mile roundtrip Bearwallow Mountain trail is a crowd favorite for locals in the Asheville area.
Thanks to Conserving Carolina, the Bearwallow Mountain Trail is maintained for public use offering hikers a beautiful hike through the forest culminating at a mountaintop pasture with magnificent views.
The pasture is actively grazed by cows, so be ready to encounter some cattle when you get to the summit. The views and the cows combined with the relatively short length makes it a family-friendly hike and a favorite trail for our family and friends.
If you’re looking for a full-day outing, check out our day trip itinerary that includes Bearwallow Mountain!
About Bearwallow Trail
Trailhead location: Bearwallow Mountain Road
Trail length: 2 miles roundtrip (an option for it to loop back or out and back)
Difficulty: Moderate. There’s a gravel path that’s a bit easier than the trail.
Elevation change: Almost 600 feet in elevation change. It’s a pretty steady climb, but not too steep.
Distance from downtown Asheville: 19 miles
Drive time from downtown Asheville: 35 minutes
Directions to Bearwallow Mountain Trail
Bearwallow Mountain is located near Gerton, NC. It’s southeast of Asheville on Highway 74, the route to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. After passing Fairview you will turn right onto Bearwallow Mountain Road in Gerton.
Parking for Bearwallow Mountain
There is roadside parking available at the Bearwallow Mountain trailhead. It can fill up at busy times and you may have to park on the side of the road further away from the trailhead.
Hiking Bearwallow Mountain Trail
The trail up Bearwallow Mountain is well-defined and easy to follow. It is a steady (but not too steep) climb with several switchbacks. The trail starts off in heavy forest cover, which is great for shade on a sunny day.
Our kids like to stop for water breaks by the large rocks along the way. They really enjoy the hike and like meeting all of the leashed dogs along the way. Overall, it’s a nice, shaded trail where the whole family can really immerse themselves in nature.
One thing to note is to be sure to watch out for poison ivy– there is a lot along the sides of the trail.
The top of Bearwallow Mountain
As you near the trail’s end, you will emerge from the forest into a mountaintop pasture. Here you can roam around and check out views of the West and South.
You can continue to hike along the Wildcat Rock Trail towards the fire tower and communications arrays scattered about. At this point, you will have additional views toward the north.
Bearwallow Mountain is great for sunrises and sunsets and you can even spot Mt. Mitchell in the distance.
Cows on Bearwallow Mountain
The top of the mountain is an open pasture actively grazed by cattle. If you see cows, the farmers ask that you keep your distance. Keep at least 100 feet away! And even if you don’t see any cows, watch your step… they may have left something behind!
Heading back to the trailhead
After you have taken in all the vistas, you have two options to get back down to the trailhead. You can go back down the same way you went up, or for a change of scenery, you can take the service road back down. The service road makes it a complete loop returning you to the trailhead. We personally prefer the tree coverage on the mountain trail.
Bearwallow Mountain Hiking for kids
If you have an intrepid explorer, the Bearwallow Mountain hike will be perfect for the family.
The elevation gain can be a grind for little ones, but luckily it is only about a mile and then you are rewarded with the beautiful views from the pastures at the summit. Our kids love the achievement of reaching the summit and seeing the views (especially if they also get to see cows!)