Moses Cone Carriage Trails

Easy Hikes through a Historic Property



Moses Cone Manor

Moses Cone Manor is the main trailhead to easily access over 25 miles of wide carriage trails throughout Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. From Boone, travel south on US Highway 321 for 8 miles and turn right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway ramp. Turn left to go South on the parkway for a little over 2 miles until signs indicate Moses Cone Manor/Visitor Information on the left. If the parking area is full, visitors may park on the shoulder if all four wheels are off the road.

Trout Lake's loop trail is also accessible via Shulls Mill Road. From Boone, take Winkler's Creek Road for 3 miles, until it turns into a gravel road, Flannery Fork Road, and continue another 2 miles. Turn right onto Shulls Mill Road, then take the next right into the Trout Lake parking area.

Bass Lake is accessible via Highway 221. Read our Bass Lake Trail Guide for more specific directions and details about the loop.




Note: With over 25 miles of historic carriage trails, this guide is by no means an exhaustive list of all the routes one could take at this sprawling park. The trails offer near-endless customization, all of which are gradually graded and generally rated as easy.


Flat Top Tower

A popular, easy, 5.3-mile round trip hike with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains from an observation tower. Trail runners, horseback riders, and hikers frequent the trail. Start at Moses Cone Manor, the historic summer home of Moses and Bertha Cone. Be sure to stop in the Manor, which is open seasonally and hosts visitor information, tours, and the Parkway Craft Center inside. The trail heads left of the parking area, past the public restrooms, towards the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After crossing the parkway under an arched tunnel, the path forks (follow signage and take the right side) and slopes up gradually as it passes by a picturesque pasture. The trail steadily climbs through meadows and open fields for a mile until a rusty tractor to the left of the trail indicates a side path to the Cone Cemetery. Visit Moses Cone, the "Denim King's", gravesite, and read the plaque at the back of the grave to learn about his life. Continue behind the trees to circle back to the main trail.

The hike climbs gradually through meadows, past gorgeous views of nearby peaks, toward the park's tallest point. Remember to stay on the wide, winding path, instead of taking the steep side footpaths that shorten your hike. Continued use of these footpaths could damage native plants and cause erosion to this historic land. The main trail reenters the forest and continues until Flat Top Tower can be found 2.7 miles from the Manor. Enjoy the 360-degree views of distant mountains and gorges before heading back down to the start.


Trout Lake Loop & Rich Mountain Trail

This easy, loop trail around a gorgeous man-made lake can easily be completed in about 30 minutes. To extend the hike, start at Moses Cone Manor for a round trip that takes about 2 hours. 

Starting at the parking area on Shull's Mill Road, a narrow footpath near the back of the parking lot leads towards the lake. The path quickly connects to a main gravel trail. Turn left to continue around the lake. After only a couple tenths of a mile, a fork in the trail leads left to Rich Mountain (4 miles to the peak from there) and right around the lake - take the path to the right. You'll cross over the lake's dam before reaching another intersection with Rich Mountain Trail, this time leading up to Moses Cone Manor. Keep to the right and the footpath will soon run into the paved parking area road leading back to your car.

From Moses Cone Manor, head left on the trail towards a tunnel that leads under the parkway. At the fork in the trail, follow signage towards Trout Lake and Rich Mountain leading left and descending into the trees. The trail is mostly forested and usually very quiet. Cross the unpaved Flannery Fork Road at 0.6 miles and continue towards the lake. Rich Mountain Carriage Trail intersects shortly after and continues toward the right along Trout Lake Trail for around 0.5 miles.

After crossing the lake's dam, the Rich Mountain trail diverts to the right while Trout Lake Loop turns left. After 0.3 miles the trail converges with the parking area road but continues towards the left before reaching the busier Shulls Mill Road. Don't miss the sharp right turn back up to Moses Cone Manor after a couple of tenths of a mile. 


A lake is framed by two large blooming rhododendron bushes.


Bass Lake Loop

Check out our Bass Lake Trail Guide to discover another easy loop and directions to the Maze and Apple Barn on Moses Cone's estate.


Help preserve these historic trails by planning ahead, keeping on the desinated paths, respecting the plentiful wildlife in the area, being considerate of others, and packing out any and all trash.

Click through the images below to learn more about how to help Preserve the Awe of the environment around Boone!