This is a 5.25 mile hike with 1237′ of elevation gain. The trail has LOTS of constructed stairs and a couple very steep climbs. Point Misery, which has no view, is the high elevation of the hike. The best view is from Little Butt, where you can enjoy vistas of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains from a slab of rock. You can hike on an extra half mile to Big Butt, but there are no additional great views. This hike starts at Walker Knob overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Last May, we stayed a week with our friends, Tony and Linda, who rented a cabin in North Carolina near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fellow hiker, Zach, joined for several days as well (all members of the Hiking Upward team). As is common on a vacation with friends, we had a first night of celebrating being away and probably had a few too many beers among us.
The next day was hot, and we were definitely feeling a bit tired from the night before, so we decided to try something moderate. Eventually we landed on the Little Butt hike. You have to laugh at a hike with a name like that!
The trail started off with a gentle descent into a scenic forest landscape with lots of trillium along the way. The trail was worn through, but we could tell the spring growth would likely necessitate some maintenance as things get overgrown as the season goes on.
After we hit the bottom of the small gap, the trail starts to ascend steeply. It was tougher than we expected, even brutal at times. The climb topped out at Point Misery – about a mile and a half into the hike. From there, the trail dropped steeply for about half a mile, before going right back up for .4 miles. This section had many, many stairs constructed into the mountainside. I don’t know about you, but I typically hate to see stairs on a hike, because I know I’m in for a steep climb, since stairs are necessary to keep the trail in shape.
Once we got up through the forest staircase, the trail reaches more of a ridgeline and it was a short distance to get to the Little Butt overlook, a slab of rock where you can take in views of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains.
At this point, Christine and I decided to stop and just enjoy the view. Big Butt is only half a mile from here, but we had read that it really didn’t have any views and was just another peak to bag. Zach and pressed on to Big Butt. We ate a quick snack at the overlook and then decided to hike back. Zach said he would catch up to us. We descended the stairs, climbed steeply back up to Point Misery, and were enjoying the easy downhill back to the car when we saw Zach running along to catch up. We were amazed at how much energy he had compared to us.
That night, we got back to our rental place and enjoyed a beautiful sunset and campfire. It was a great first day of adventure in North Carolina!