I have long extolled the virtues of hiking Purchase Knob with my kids. When my oldest, Aidan, was just a baby, I would load him up in a jogging stroller once a week and trudge up the mountain on the gravel road, sweating off those pesky pregnancy pounds. If you ask Aidan now, 14 years later, what his favorite hike is in western North Carolina, I’ll bet you a cold IPA that he’ll tell you “Purchase Knob.”
The charm of this hike is not in its solitude, because the secret is definitely out. It’s not a deep and remote wilderness experience either. Nor does the hike up compare to some of my favorite hikes in the National Park for mile-by-mile visual payoff. The charm of this hike simply lies in its accessibility to Waynesville, and the sweeping views you’ll encounter towards and at the top with minimal mileage to glean such reward (anywhere from 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 miles, depending on how much you explore beyond the road leading to the Science Center at the top). Couple that with the fact that you can hike it with children at any age, whether you’re carrying or pushing them and eventually watching them trek up it on their own, and it’s one of Haywood County and the Park’s greatest treasures, in my humble opinion.
Because of my affection for this short trek, I created a scavenger hunt that kids can learn from as they hike it (and parents too!). I’ve included both a printable and digital version for you to choose from. If you do use it, by all means let me know what you think, especially if there are things you aren’t crazy about or if you find errors. I really value input on this, as it may serve as a springboard for future “hunts” on other family friendly hikes.
Right now, the leaves are just starting to change and the late summer wildflowers are still showing off their own colors, and it’s one of my favorite seasons to visit this hike. I suggest you get out there too, with or without the scavenger hunt in hand!
Purchase Knob Hike Scavenger Hunt (Digital and Printable Versions)
Here’s a post from the Meanderthal’s blog (which is one of my favorites for reading trail reports) that will give you directions to the hike and another glowing review of this treasure. My kids and I even met Jeff on one of our hikes to this very place! For me, it was like meeting a celebrity! Here’s the link to that special day’s hike, if you’re interested.
Update 01/18: If Hemphill Rd. is passable in winter (it usually is unless we’ve been blanketed with a recent snow and they haven’t cleared the roads), Purchase Knob is beautiful in the winter months. Wogene, my youngest son, took a trek up it in early January with our dog, Josie. The slideshow is photos from that hike (and many of the clues on the Scavenger Hunt are able to be found in winter too!).
Gaia GPS Track of the Route Described in the Scavenger Hunt