Mount Jefferson, rising to more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding landscape, is an area landmark near Jefferson, North Carolina. On a clear day, from the Mount Jefferson Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, visitors can see across most of surrounding county to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west.
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, operated by the North Carolina State Parks, is laced with hiking trails and picnic sites, and offers educational programs to the public. A trail that loops around the summit of Mount Jefferson offers magnificent views and a chance to experience some of the unusual plants communities which qualified the area for designation as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.
Mount Jefferson and its nearby peaks are remnants of a once lofty mountainous region that wound across much of the western part of state. While no evidence of permanent Native American settlements in the area has been found, game was plentiful, and both the Cherokees and the Shawnees claimed it as a hunting ground. The first white settlers in the area came from Virginia, as travel from eastern North Carolina was difficult over undeveloped mountain trails.
The mountain is named in honor of Thomas Jefferson and his father, Peter, who owned land in the area and surveyed the nearby North Carolina-Virginia border in 1749. Legend holds that during the Civil War the “caves” beneath Mount Jefferson’s ledges served as hideouts for escaped slaves traveling to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Hours of Operation
8 am to sunset year round. The Natural Area is closed Christmas Day. The park office is open 8 am – 5 pm weekdays.
There is no fee to enter the Natural Area. Picnic shelters are offered for free on a first-come, first-served basis, but can be reserved in advance for $73.
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is located off NC 221, between Jefferson and West Jefferson, NC.
Mt Jefferson State Natural Area
1481 Mt. Jefferson State Park Road West Jerfferson, NC 28694