22 miles, 5800' of up!

The Three Peak Challenge is an out and back that hits the summits of Shortoff (3161',) Table Rock (3920',) and Hawksbill Mountains (4020'.) The exact location of the summit of Shortoff may be debatable, but for the purposes of this route, just stay on the trail.

NOTE: Since this route runs through the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, this is not a group run or scheduled activity. It's a fitness test or FKT opportunity for you that offers up a lot of climbs and some great views. Please respect the USFS rules regarding conduct in the Wilderness Area. And have fun!

Park at the Wolfpit Trailhead Parking area, at the end of Wolf Pit Road, which is a dirt road off Highway 126 near Morganton. It's about 1/2 mile "below" the Linville Boat Landing on Lake James.

The route:
Head up the Wolfpit Trail at the far end of the parking lot. After about .15 miles, you'll take a right turn and head up Shortoff.
Around Mile 1, you'll merge onto the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) toward the Chimneys and Table Rock. There is a sign here. Do not head toward the Linville River unless you just want extra running.
Stay on the MST, following the white dots. Note: some dots are on rocks on the ground because there is a dearth of trees in places.
At about mile 6.5, you'll reach the Table Rock Parking Lot, where there are restroom facilities and trash & recycle bins.
Continue through the parking lot and rejoin the trail on the far, left side.
The trail connects to other trails in this area, so be sure you don't make an unintentional detour.
You'll branch off of the MST around half-way up to get on the trail to the summit. It is not marked, but you'll take the option to the right of continuing up, rather than following the MST down and to the left.
Once you reach the summit, enjoy the view, then head back down and rejoin the MST. Watch out, it's a sharp, near-180 degree right turn that is easy to run right through.
Take the MST about one mile down to the gravel Table Rock Road.
Turn left on the road and run up about 1.5 miles to the Hawksbill Trailhead
Hawksbill is the second trailhead you'll encounter--ignore the Spence Ridge Trailhead.
When you reach the Hawksbill Trailhead, on your left, take it to the summit of Hawksbill.
The trail ends a tad below the actual summit of Hawksbill, so run across and up the rocks to your right and you'll know when you're on the true summit.
When you're done celebrating, it's time to head back down.
Follow the Hawksbill Trail back down to the gravel Table Rock Road.
Turn right onto the road and run 1.5 miles back down to the MST trail to Table Rock Parking Area.
Run (if you can) up the MST 1.4 miles to the parking lot--a second summiting of Table Rock is purely optional, if you want another 300' or so of up in this run.
Head back across the parking lot and follow the MST back to Shortoff.
Take a left back toward Wolf Pit, where the MST branches right toward the Linville River (there is a sign here.)
Take another left when given the choice about 3/4 mile later.
Run .15 more miles and you've completed the challenge!

Post your times here
04/05/14 - Ray Burris & Mark Rostan - 6:54:13
05/17/14 - Anji Nussbaumer, Doug Blackford, Dennis Norris, & Mark Rostan - 6:39:14
5/02/15- Adam Hill- 4:22:14 (1:27:31 to Table Rock- 2:10:29 to Hawksbill) This run is BURLY!!!
08/14/15- Joseph Quinlan- 6:31:03
10/31/15 - Ray Burris & Mark Rostan - 6:33:00 (2:16 to Table Rock, 3:25 to Hawksbill)
01/07/16- Joseph Quinlan- 5:39:30 (2:01 to Table Rock, 2:56 to Hawksbill)
10/16/16- Ben Grant- 5:28:?? (1:47 to TR parking; 2:57 to Hawksbill)
01/30/17- Joseph Quinlan 4:52 (1:43 to Table Rock- 2:35 to Hawksbill)

Sunrise from partway up Shortoff

Panorama from Shortoff (Lake James in the distance.)

Ray by "Shortoff Pond."

Chimneys & Table Rock from Shortoff

Mark Squinting into Sun on Table Rock (Gorge in near background, Black Mountains in the far background.)

Table Rock and the Linville Gorge from Hawksbill

Panorama from Hawksbill.