Judged in the Devil’s Courthouse | Hike Review
Guest Post by Kevin Axelrod
Devil’s Courthouse is a well know mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in North Carolina. Here, you will be able to climb to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy panoramic views and even see into four different states. The hike is a short one of only 20 minutes, but it is a very strenuous hike that goes straight up the mountain.
A Short History of Devil’s Courthouse
There are many stories on how the mountain got its name. The most prevalent is that it was named Devil’s Courthouse because of the sinister look of the rock face and because in folk lore, the cave (which is inaccessible) was where the devil holds court and tries those who have committed crimes.
Cherokee legend states that the cave is home to the slant eyed monster known as Jutaculla. This monster legend is just as bad as it sounds with Jutaculla stalking and eating people. No evidence has been found on either legend however, so you should feel safe on your hike.
Devil’s Courthouse is in the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 422.4. It is 26 miles way from the Parkway exit in Asheville on NC 191. It will take about an hour by car from Asheville.
Once you arrive, you will see a large parking lot with a beautiful overlook. At the overlook parking lot, you will be able to see the beautiful mountain range as well as Devil’s Courthouse.
The overlook has a sign that will point you into the direction of the trail and give you historical information. The trail head is to the left of the parking lot overlook.
During the winter months, the Parkway is subject to closure due to road conditions so make sure you check the Blue Ridge Parkway website to ensure that it is safe. Even if it is not icy in Asheville, it can be icy on the Parkway due to the elevation. If the park rangers feel that it is not safe, they will close to ensure safety. Many of the curves in the Parkway are not guarded with guard rails, which could lead to a life-threatening accident.
What to Bring for the Hike
This trail starts out relatively easily. You simply go up a beautifully paved trail. There’s plenty of flora to enjoy along the way.
As you get further up the trail, it gets considerably steep and the paved trail changes into a natural one. Watch for roots, limbs and, broken steps. There have been some wooden and rock steps placed but these are worn out so make sure to take your time.
The most basic necessities are water, closed toed shoes, and you might also benefit from bringing a hiking stick with you to help navigate the trail. Even in the summer months, it is a good idea to bring a light jacket. At 5,720 feet elevation, it can get a little cold and windy at times.
On the trail, there are several resting areas with a bench to help you catch your breath if the trail becomes too much. Even for experienced hikers, this trail’s quick rise in elevation can cause some difficulty, so make sure that you are fully prepared for that.
Once you reach the top of the summit, you will be able to see a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can actually see North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, all from the summit.
There are signs that show you where to look. The view is well worth the hike.
Warnings about the Trail
When you are hiking this trail, do not venture off of it. There are several rare plants that call this area home. The Rock Gnome Lichen and the Spreading Avens are well known through this area and are thought to be remnants of the last ice age period. Walking on these can destroy their habitat.
When you reach the summit, you will be able to see the beautiful rock face below. In the past, climbers would climb this area but it is important not to disturb the rock face below. The rock face is home to the Peregrine Falcon — a gorgeous raptor that is now officially protected as their numbers have dwindled. Hopefully, you will get to see one of these rare birds on your visit to Devil’s Courthouse.
Does it get the Griptioneer Stamp of Approval?
The hike to Devil’s Courthouse is well worth the strenuous trail. The views are like no other and make for a stunning life experience and photo opportunity.
When you are done hiking Devil’s Courthouse, consider looking at the Courthouse Falls. They are located on the other side of Devil’s Courthouse and can be accessed from Highway 215 in Transylvania County.
While you are there, there are many other hiking opportunities in this area. The Blue Ridge Parkway holds many including Graveyard Fields, and Transylvania County is known as the Land of Waterfalls, home to many waterfall hiking areas.