This hike is part of the WPA & Conserving Carolina White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 5. It takes you to the midpoint of the award winning Weed Patch Mountain Trail—and one of the best views of the dramatic Blue Ridge Escarpment you’ll find anywhere! You can also do a “two-for-one” by combining this hike with Eagle Rock and the Tunnel Trail. If you’re up for a challenging mountain bike ride, you can also bike this trail.

View from Weed Patch Mountain Trail
Grey Rock offers a scenic vista to hikers and bikers on the Weed Patch Mountain Trail. Photo by Clint Calhoun.

These Views are Well Worth the Hike

The new Weed Patch Mountain Trail, which opened in 2018, offers exciting backcountry adventures for hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers. The trail traverses rugged mountain terrain through a remote wilderness area in the Town of Lake Lure’s Buffalo Creek Park.

Along the way to  Grey Rock, you’ll find yourself at rock outcrops with spectacular long-range views, as well as pristine mountain streams and an old growth forest. The trail is designed for hiking and mountain biking and a spur trail creates the first access to Eagle Rock in Chimney Rock State Park, a rock climbing destination. This trail connects to the Buffalo Creek Loop Trail.

Conserving Carolina partnered with the Town of Lake Lure to protect over 1,500 acres at Buffalo Creek Park—making it one of the largest local parks in North Carolina. This land was slated for development, but during the recession, we were able to purchase the property out of bankruptcy. This allowed us to save a stunning tract of backcountry wilderness and open it to the public for recreation!

Conserving Carolina protected the land forever with a conservation easement and sold it to the town for a public park. We designed and built the 8.6 mile trail to high standards of sustainability, in order to prevent erosion, minimize needs for future maintenance, and enhance people’s experience on the trail. Our volunteer trail crews were instrumental in creating this state-of-the-art backcountry trail. The Weed Patch Mountain Trail is part of our vision for the 130-mile Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail network.

In 2019, the national Coalition for Recreational Trails honored Weed Patch Mountain Trail with its annual achievement award in the category of trail design and construction. It was the second year in a row that a Conserving Carolina trail has won this national award. Learn more. 

CHALLENGE: Hike to the Grey Rock Cliff, midpoint of the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

Primary Route: Hike Weed Patch Mouintain Trail from Eagle Rock Parking area to Grey Rock Cliff
Hiking Distance: 8.4 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Difficult


A small parking lot at the end of Shumont Road (off of Highway 9 in Bat Cave) with limited space is available at the upper end of the Weed Patch Mountain Trail, near Eagle Rock inside Chimney Rock State Park. There are only eight spaces available. To get one, you must sign up online for a free parking permit. Follow this link to the Chimney Rock State Park website, and click on the “Eagle Rock Parking” link to the left of the page. Please carpool in order to make the maximum use of this lot!

This parking area is accessed through a locked gate. When you register, you will get a combination for the gate. You are responsible for closing and locking the gate behind you. The road to the parking area is a one lane gravel road. Your registration is good for one day, between dawn and dusk. Please do not park on private property, outside of the gate. If you do so, you risk citation or your vehicle being towed.

Conserving Carolina and Chimney Rock State Park are working to improve public access with a larger parking area in the future.

Click here to enter your address and receive turn-by- turn directions to the trailhead. GPS users may enter N35.472234, W-82.242326 in their units.

Hiking Directions

From the gravel permit parking area, walk beyond the gate and up the dirt road, ascending slightly. At 0.4 miles, the road reaches a T-junction. Follow signs for the trail and turn left, and proceed on a rough, narrow footpath to a signed junction for the Weed Patch Mountain Trail on the left. Eagle Rock is the rock formation directly ahead. Turn left to begin the Weed Patch Mountain Trail.

Descend several switchbacks through a rhododendron and mountain laurel forest—which burned significantly in the 2016 Party Rock Forest Fire—to reach a signed junction with the Tunnel Trail on the right at 1.7 mi. from the parking area. Stay left and continue descending to remain on the WPM Trail toward Grey Rock.

Shortly beyond cross a dirt road to remain on the trail, and pass signs indicating that you are leaving Chimney Rock State Park and entering the Town of Lake Lure’s Buffalo Creek Park at 2.0 mi. After rock-hopping two small streams beyond, the WPM Trail ascends several switchbacks to gain a narrow ridgeline before descending several more to arrive at the curiously-shaped Flapjack Rock at 3.2 mi. Enjoy climbing on the rock and a view looking up at Eagle Rock from where you came.

Continue onward on the WPM Trail through an undulating but relatively easy section that changes elevation only slightly before reaching the scenic destination of the Grey Rock Cliff at 4.2 mi. Go back the way you came, and make sure to leave plenty of time for your return hike since it is mostly uphill.  When you are planning your hike, please note that this trail is very physically demanding.  You will descend approximately 1,100 feet on your journey between the parking area and Grey Rock, which must be climbed on the way out.

If you have time, this hike can be combined with another destination on the Weed Patch Mountain Trail in Hiking Challenge 5: Eagle Rock and the Tunnel Trail.

Alternate Routes

The Weed Patch Mountain Trail can also be accessed from the Buffalo Creek Park entrance/trailhead in Lake Lure at 2191 Buffalo Creek Rd, Lake Lure, NC 28746.

If you choose to do an out-and-back hike to the Grey Rock Cliff from this location, your hike will be about 13 miles total.  Begin by hiking the Buffalo Creek Loop Trail to get to Weed Patch Mountain Trail. The BCP loop is directional – meaning hikers and mountain bikers travel in different directions to minimize conflicts, and the direction alternates every other day. A big sign at the loop junction marks the correct way. After about 2.5 miles, you will reach an informational kiosk for the Weed Patch Mountain Trail.  Follow the red blazes and the Grey Rock Cliffs will be 4.3 miles down the trail.

You can also opt to do a thru hike of the Weed Patch Mountain Trail by parking a car at Buffalo Creek Park and shuttling to the parking area at the end of Shumont Rd.  This route is approximately 10 miles.  It is recommended that you hike from Eagle Rock to Buffalo Creek Park because it is considerably more downhill this way.

About the WPA & Conserving Carolina Hiking Challenge

Hiking Challenge 5 Patch

The popular White Squirrel Hiking Challenge is back! Take the challenge and go on 8 hikes, all on lands protected by Conserving Carolina. If you complete all 8 hikes and you are a Conserving Carolina member, that makes you a Hiking Challenge 5 Champion. You will earn an awards package, including your white squirrel patch and a $10 gift card to Mast General Store in Hendersonville. Most importantly, you get to experience 8 great places and deepen your personal connection to land conservation. 


Hiking Challenge 5 is brought to you by Witherspoon Platt + Associates (WPA)—a full service, conservation-oriented real estate brokerage connecting people with the beauty, history, and culture of Western North Carolina. 

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See All the Hikes

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  • sassafrass mountain overlook
  • Grey Rock - Photo by Clint Calhoun
  • View from Eagle Rock
  • Drip Falls at Norman Wilder Forest (2)
  • Oklawaha Greenway
  • Bearwallow vista
  • View from Rattlesnake Knob in Florence Nature Preserve – photo by CMLC