Fall is quickly approaching and where else to enjoy the beautiful foliage of autumn but the panoramic hiking trails of Asheville? For just about a two hour drive to the mountains, you can experience the world renowned beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains and some of the best hiking trails in North Carolina. Whether you’re waterfall hunting, planning a family picnic or just looking to get some fresh air, these hiking trails in Asheville will get you out and active.
Max Patch Appalachian Trail
This moderate hike stretches 1.4-2.4 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail near Hot Springs. When you reach the top, you will have a 360-degree view of the mountains. This medium level hike also has a lovely picnic spot. On a cooler night, bring tents and enjoy an overnight camping trip.
Skinny Dip Falls
Explore the Blue Ridge Parkway with this moderate to hard to Skinny Dip Falls swimming hole. While the 3/4th mile trail has some steep parts, it is easy to cool off after jumping into the 6-ft. Deep swimming hole under the falls. There are many dry places to enjoy a picnic or just soak up the day as well.
Black Balsam Knob
Enjoy the Art Loeb Trail in a moderate hike to the bare mountains of Balck Balsam Knob. This hike can be anywhere between 1 and 10 miles, depending on your preference. The 360-degree panoramic view showcases the bald mountains of the Blue Ridge. This is a superb picnic or camping location.
If you’re feeling a challenge, take on the short but steep hike to the Devil’s Courthouse. After a half-mile hike, you will reach the 360-degree panoramic of the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains. The trail is right off of the overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and has mostly paved trails.
Craven Gap Trail
Explore the famous Mountains-To-Sea trail with this classic Asheville hiking trail right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just 15 minutes from downtown, this moderate 4.8 mile round trip hike is a must when visiting Asheville. Explore the forest of North Carolina and the native wildflowers and lovely foliage during the fall.
If you’re looking for a short hike to a beautiful waterfall, Graveyard Fields is the hike for you. Named after the stumped trees that resembled gravestones, this easy ⅓ mile hike to the Lower falls is perfect for a family of small children or just looking to get outside. You may also choose to continue the four-mile loop to the Upper falls which is slightly more strenuous.
3-Mile Waterfall Hike in DuPont State Forest
This easy, flat 3-mile hike is DuPont State Forest’s most popular trails. This trail takes you to Hooker, Triple and High falls. These falls are the perfect place to bring the whole family and have a picnic or to enjoy a swim at the pools below the falls. These trails are pet friendly and most popular on sunny weekends.
Looking Glass Rock
If you’re looking for a challenge, gear up for a strenuous climb on this 6.5 mile round trip hike to the top of Looking Glass Rock. The summit sits in the Pisgah National Forest and climbs almost 1,700 feet in elevation behind the mountain. At the top, you will have a 180-degree view of the neighboring mountains.
Roan Mountain on the Appalachian Trail
Experience a series of five summits on this unique 1-7 mile hike near the North Carolina-Tennessee state line. The Roan’s Highlands knobs and bluffs make for a vast view, but the trail is most known for its famous Catawba rhododendron gardens. Hike almost 6,300 feet in elevation and enjoy the beautiful Appalachian Trail.
Rough Ridge Hike
This moderate to strenuous yet short ⅓ mile hike of the Tanawha Trail right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway showcases the famous Grandfather Mountain and Linn Cove Viaduct. This hike features a boardwalk over the unique and delicate high elevation vegetation. There are large boulders to sit on and enjoy a picnic once you reach the top.
Words by Gina McCallie