Sunset enthusiasts, this hike is calling your name

Sunset chasers and casual hikers should look no further than the short, scenic hike to Ravenal Park. With a parking area just minutes outside of downtown Highlands and directly across the road from the Highlands Biological Center, this hike makes breathtaking views accessible. 

Ravenal Park is popular for all ages and abilities and it provides a great way to get outside and enjoy the scenery of Highlands temperate forests and scenic peaks.  

The half-mile gravel trail begins in the small parking area off Sunset Park Drive in Highlands. Trees line the path, shading hikers from any harsh sun or wind. The path splits at the top, giving hikers the option to head left to an east-facing overlook or right toward Sunset Rock.  

The short walk west towards Sunset Rock leads to an exposed slab of granite overlooking the town of Highlands. The summit offers a panoramic view of the setting sun. With a wide, well-maintained trail, hikers can safely visit at dusk to enjoy the evening views.  

Heading left leads to a smaller but no less stunning view. Here, hikers can look east toward scenic mountain views. In the early morning hours this overlook provides a great view of the sunrise.  

The first half-mile of the trail is accessible by car. It is intended for vehicles with four-wheel drive. The road is steep and ices quickly in the winter making it inaccessible for two-wheel drive vehicles.  

The trail at Ravenel Park rounds out to 1.4 miles out-and-back. It requires roughly an hour to complete, but you’ll want to spend some extra time at the summit enjoying the views. Pack a picnic, sit a while and take in the unique scenery of the area.  

Ravenal Park is a part of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust which has been conserving important land and resources in the area since 1909. The 10 acres the park resides in were donated to the trust by the Ravenel family in 1914.  

The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust is one of 24 trusts in North Carolina preserving places like Ravenal Park to be enjoyed by many generations to come.  

With downtown shops, cafés and botanical gardens just moments away Ravenal Park makes for a great hiking destination. All experience levels can indulge in the area’s beauty on this scenic hike.