Point Lookout Trail

An old road made into a new trail

Author - Jim Williams

Difficulty Level - ModerateDifficulty level:

Moderate

Mostly single track trails.  There will be moderate to difficult elevation gains.  Remember we live along and in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  They don’t call them mountains without a reason.  The distances will be a little longer and you’ll be carrying snacks and water.





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Shoes: Light
comfortable walking shoes or tennis shoes are fine for this trail.



TOTAL DISTANCE: 5.2 to 7.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate
 
Shoes:  A running shoe will work just fine.  I like to wear a hiking boot because I get a little more ankle support on the way down.
 
Time:  Expect to spend 1-2 hours roundtrip although a lot of runners like this trail and can complete it much quicker.
 
Distance:  Total distance round trip is 5.2 miles to the Point Lookout flagpole.  It’s another mile from Point Lookout to the Forest Service gate at the top of the trail.  That roundtrip distance is 7.2 miles.  Elevation gain is about 900’ to top gate then it’s all down hill from there.
 
Safety:  I have rated this as a moderate hike mainly because of the elevation change.  I take plenty of water. 
 
Courtesy:  Watch for bicycles on the trail – especially downhill riders.  Walkers should stay to the right.  I have never had a problem with the bike issue.  Down hill riders will callout when they see you.  Up hill riders may not say much but you’ll hear them trying to breathe long before they get to you.
 
HOW TO GET THERE: 
 
From Marion, take Interstate 40 west to exit 73.  Turn right toward Old Fort.  At the big arrowhead turn left onto Hwy 70.  In less than a quarter mile make a right turn onto Old Hwy 70.  You’ll see a sign pointing to Andrews Geyser.  Stay on this road until it ends in about 3 ½ miles.  You should see the sign pointing to the geyser on the right and the Old Fort Picnic grounds on the left.  Continue straight ahead.  You’ll see parking and the Forest Service Gate that is the start of the trail.  If you’re there on a Sunday, be careful not to use the parking for the Piney Grove Church.  That area is marked.
 
The trail starts at the service road gate.
 
THE TRAIL:  From the gate it’s a simple trail to follow.  Just stay on the blacktopped surface and enjoy the view.  As you get higher on the trail the vistas are terrific.  You’ll be looking back toward Old Fort and Marion.   If you’re lucky, you might hear or see one of the trains making its way to Asheville or going back toward Marion.  There’s a lot of history about this railroad.  If you are interested in knowing more, visit MACA in Marion and ask for a book by Stephen R Little called Tunnels, Nitro and Convicts.  It’s a good read.
 
Go to the lookout and sit a spell or work your way the top gate.  It’s a cruise going back down.  Walk at a moderate pace on the way back.  Protect those shins.
 
I have walked this trail in all four seasons, in rain and snow.  I enjoy it every time.
 
Jim