A challenging, but very rewarding route with stunning views, rock formations, and waterfalls.
Start at the visitor center and bear to the left following Pinnacle Mountain Trail/Foothills Trail
. The Pinnacle Mountain Trail is marked by yellow blazes, and follows part of the Foothills Trail
(marked by white blazes).
The trail immediately begins to climb, following along a beautiful mountain stream lined by mountain laurel. There are a couple of creek crossings early, but none that require getting your feet wet. The trail carves its way across the contour of the mountain on the south side. You'll pass under a large rock outcrop. During wet times, the outcrop yields a waterfall that you'll hike behind. There is a good bit of rock scrambling at this point, but large rocks and boulders, not loose rock and gravel. Continue uphill until you reach a large slab of rock called Bald Knob. Take a minute to soak up the views of the distant mountains and Greenville.
You'll follow yellow blazes on this less trodden trail with several creek crossings and small footbridges amid the hardwoods and rhododendron that line the steep mountain slopes. The Foothills Trail
follows the same route indicated by white blazes. You'll encounter a small waterfall to the right and pass beneath a giant rock ledge, before you reach the junction of a 0.4 mile spur trail that leads to Mill Creek Falls. The spur ends at a wooden bridge where you can view the falls.
Return to the junction and continue towards Bald Knob Overlook. After a steep ascent, the trail levels and joins the Mill Creek Trail. Continue hiking uphill to the huge, sloping Bald Knob outcrop. Your reward is the view as you look out over the distant mountains to see Greenville and beyond.
To continue to Pinnacle Mountain, hike uphill to the top of the outcrop and turn right into the forest. At 4 miles, the Foothills Trail
will branch off sharply to the left marked by white blazes only. Going straight, you'll ascend steeply to the tree-enclosed apex of Pinnacle Mountain. You can return the way you came, or follow the less strenuous, wooded Ridge Trail
to the Table Rock Trail
and loop back to the nature center.