Trail Background and History
In 2008, McDowell County, the US Forest Service, NCDOT, the Town of Old Fort, and the McDowell Trails Association partnered to rehabilitate and reopen the former US 70 between Old Fort and Ridgecrest. The route formerly served as the primary link between the Asheville area and the rest of North Carolina from its origin as part of NC 10 (the Central Highway) until the opening of the new highway (first US 70 then I 40/US 70) several decades later. The old road was closed to vehicular traffic in 1982 and was only used by the occasional cyclist or hiker for over two decades. Many years later NCDOT provided funds to clear the roadway and pave a portion of the road to provide a smooth surface for bicycles and hikers.
Today the 3.75 trail is open year round to non-motorized vehicles and hikers. The highlight of the trail is the view at the trail's namesake, Point Lookout. This site was the location of a tourist area for many decades. There are benches at Point Lookout and throughout the trail for resting or enjoying the views of the Royal Gorge.
Parking and Access
The preferred parking area is located on the eastern end near Old Fort either at the Old Fort Picnic Grounds or at the shoulder of the road a few hundred feet from the gate. Please do not block private driveways. Parking is available on the Ridgecrest side at the Kitsuma Trail parking lot, which is 1 mile from the upper gate. The trail is primarily located on US Forest property. Please be advised that a small portion of the trail crosses private property. This portion is clearly marked. Please do not stray from the trail in this area.