This guide will cover Asheville hiking trails with mountain peaks, woodland scenery, and plunging waterfalls. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a hiking newbie, there’s a hike near Asheville in this article for you to discover!
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Hikes Near Asheville
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15 Best Hikes Near Asheville
DuPont State Forest Three Waterfall Hike
A family-friendly waterfall hike nestled in DuPont State Forest
DuPont State Forest is home to some of the best Asheville hiking trails. It doesn’t provide mountain views like the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it has an abundance of family-friendly forest hikes. This park is also home to several of the most stunning waterfalls near Asheville.
One of the best, most popular hikes in DuPont State Forest is the Three Waterfall Hike. This moderate, family-friendly hike takes you to three cascades: Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls.
The trails here are flat in some places, and steeper in others. Although this Three Waterfall Hike is quite popular with visitors, I still highly recommend it. It’s easy to access, well-marked, and perfectly scenic.
If you’re looking to do a longer hike after hitting up all three waterfalls, keep going until you reach the covered bridge above High Falls. From here, you can hike two more miles up to Bridal Veil Falls. This will make for a hike that’s about 7-8 miles roundtrip.
Max Patch Loop
An expansive summit located on the Tennessee-North Carolina Border
If you don’t have it in you to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, no worries. Instead, opt for this hike at Max Patch Loop! A part of the Appalachian Trail, this Tennessee–North Carolina border hike is scenic and classically Appalachian.
The summit is technically a “bald,” meaning there are no trees here. Instead, you get a wide open summit with tall grasses and native wildflowers. Max Patch is the perfect place to have a picnic, camp, and take in awe-inspiring views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
📚 Related Reading: Hiking Essentials Checklist (26 Things to Pack on a Hike)
Art Loeb Trail to Black Balsam Knob
A high elevation hike where you can walk a ridge of the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Art Loeb Trail to Black Balsam Knob is one of my favorite hikes near Asheville. Its moderate difficulty level makes it a great option for most visitors, and the scenery here is truly spectacular.
Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, this Black Balsam hike begins with a walk through a Balsam grove. Then, it climbs up through a rocky area with tall grasses, where mountain views start to come into sight. Next, you’ll walk a meadowed ridgeline to reach the summit of Black Balsam Knob. Here, you’ll see stunning panoramic views.
What sets the Art Loeb Trail apart from other Asheville hikes is the refreshing, peaceful, and awe-inspiring feeling you’ll get from hiking it. It’s a must-do!
Craggy Gardens Pinnacle
See blooming rhododendrons on this easy, yet stunning mountain hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway
Craggy Gardens Pinnacle is a short, mile-high hike near Asheville. It takes you through lush, wooded areas and past stunning wildflowers and berry bushes, up to a scenic overlook of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. Although short in distance, the vibrant greenery and scenery is what really sets this hike apart.
Craggy Gardens is especially known for its show of bright rhododendrons that bloom in early summer. And although this attraction gets busy in early summer because of this, it’s absolutely worth seeing if you can.
The hike’s trailhead is located just past the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center. Find it on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the best places to visit in North Carolina.
👉 Pro Tip: Want to spend a day high up on the Blue Ridge Parkway? I recommend visiting Craggy Gardens Pinnacle and then heading up to nearby Mount Mitchell State Park. Or, consider taking a tour of the area!
A peaceful forest waterfall along the Catawba River, just east of Asheville
Catawba Falls Trail is located east of downtown Asheville. It’s near Old Fort and past Black Mountain, one of the best mountain towns in Western North Carolina.
This hike is relatively easy with a few steady climbs along the Catawba River. Suitable for most visitors, the Catawba Falls Trail is the perfect hike to take your family and pet on, and share a picnic on the rocks.
The waterfall at Catawba Falls is tumbling and beautiful, with water cascading over moss and plant-covered rocks. It’s one of the best hiking trails near Asheville if you’re looking to escape into a zen and idyllic forest atmosphere.
👉 Pro Tip: Catawba Falls is currently closed for improvements, but is set to open back up in spring 2023. Check the website for updates.
An iconic Pisgah National Forest hike that rewards you with 360-degree views
In the mountain range surrounding Asheville, Mount Pisgah is one of the area’s most iconic peaks. Mount Pisgah Trail is located within Pisgah Forest, and only an hour from Asheville. The hike itself is a moderate climb and a good afternoon workout. You can expect to climb mountain stairs, pass lush greenery, and catch some incredible views as you hike to the peak.
Mount Pisgah is quite popular in the summer and fall, since its high elevation gives way to an incredible vantage point. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic, 360-degree views of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains.
👉 My Favorite Gear: Good hiking shoes are a must when doing steeper, more difficult treks like this one.
Enjoy trees, waterfalls, and rivers on this high elevation valley hike in Pisgah National Forest
Graveyard Fields is a loop trail and waterfall hike located high up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Pisgah Forest. This is one of the most popular waterfall hikes near Asheville.
Graveyard Fields has two waterfalls: an upper and lower falls. The trail loops to connect both, but Upper Falls is the farthest away. I recommend snapping a picture of the map in the parking lot, just so you can stay on track.
What really sets Graveyard Fields apart is the fact that it’s a high elevation valley. The mountain views and waterfalls here are truly beautiful. The meadowed greenery will make you feel totally encompassed by nature.
📚 Related Reading: Graveyard Fields is an especially cool trail to hike in the fall since you can see so much foliage. Read our guide for more information on the best time to visit Asheville!
Daniel Ridge Falls
A peaceful, hidden waterfall hike tucked away in Pisgah National Forest
Tucked away in Pisgah Forest is this more local, hidden hiking trail. Daniel Ridge Falls is a moderate loop trail with a beautiful waterfall that cascades down many rock tiers. It’s a great trail for visitors who are looking to go a bit off the beaten path and avoid crowds.
The Daniel Ridge Falls Loop Trail goes upstream along the Davidson River and passes by a number of small river cascades. The trail itself can be rugged at times, so be careful. If you’re looking to mountain bike, this is a great trail for that, too!
A hike southeast of Asheville that leads to a lush meadow with far-reaching views
If you’re looking to picnic and spend time relaxing outdoors, Bearwallow Mountain is one of the best Asheville hiking trails. Bearwallow Mountain Trail is located in the upper Hickory Nut Gorge, only a short, 35-minute drive from downtown. It’s a family-friendly hike that’s perfect year-round.
The trail to reach Bearwallow Mountain is reasonably short, but steep, so keep that in mind. You’ll pass streams and greenery before you ascend to the beautiful meadow. This hike offers the perfect spot to sit back and enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My recommendation is to pack a picnic blanket, snacks, and spend the afternoon soaking up the scenery.
⛰️ Do You Know Why the Blue Ridge Mountains Look Blue? It’s one of 23 interesting Asheville facts I wrote about!
Mount Mitchell Trail
One of the most challenging yet rewarding Asheville hiking trails that takes you to the highest peak east of the Mississippi
For backpackers and serious hikers, Mount Mitchell Trail is a bucket list adventure. The out-and-back trail starts from Black Mountain Campground.
You’ll hike through incredible forests and breathtaking vistas. You’ll climb some serious heights, too, with an elevation gain of 3,694 feet! The end prize of this hike is reaching Mount Mitchell’s summit, which is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
This Asheville hiking trail can easily be done in one day, in about 7 hours. However, it’s great for backpacking over a couple of days. Plus, visiting Mount Mitchell State Park is one of the best things to do in North Carolina.
👉 My Favorite Gear: For a more strenuous hike like this one, hiking poles are a good idea.
Perfectly lush and easy forest hikes near downtown Asheville
Located adjacent to Asheville’s North Carolina Arboretum and Lake Powhatan is Bent Creek Experimental Forest. This hiking area is a great option for families who want a little nature escape near Asheville.
The forest landscape in Bent Creek is less steep and has fewer obstacles than other hikes near Asheville. This makes it really great for families with young children, as well as older folks. At the Bent Creek Trailhead, you’ll find a variety of trails with varying difficulty levels.
For a scenic, easy hike, I highly recommend Homestead Trail. For more experienced hikers, Shut In Trail is a good option at 16.3 miles long. Bent Creek also offers good mountain biking trails for beginners and intermediate riders.
👉 Pro Tip: Lake Powhatan Recreation Area & Campground is adjacent to Bent Creek, and is an ideal spot for RV and tent camping. REI has some great camping tents, perfect for a fun family camping trip here at Bent Creek.
Looking Glass Rock
A stone-faced monolith with wide open views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Pisgah National Forest
Looking Glass Rock is an iconic part of the Pisgah Forest landscape. Known for its smooth, rounded rock face, this natural landmark towers above the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s truly a sight to see from nearby overlooks. But, the view from the top of the hiking trail is just as rewarding.
Looking Glass Rock Trail is a more difficult hike. There’s a fair elevation gain, as the trail climbs over 1,700 feet. There aren’t any rivers or waterfalls you’ll pass on your way up, either. It’s all about the beautiful and expansive view from the top.
👉 Pro Tip: Be careful while you do this hike. It has some pretty steep and dangerous drop-offs. This is also not a hike to bring your pet on, so leave them at home.
One of North Carolina’s most iconic waterfalls known for its rugged, dramatic terrain in Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
With its dramatic plunge and rugged, rocky terrain, Linville Falls is the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina. It’s found in the Linville Gorge Wilderness, one of the best day trips from Asheville.
This beautiful waterfall hike is doable for visitors of all ages because there are two main trails you can take from the visitor center. The first is Erwin’s View Trail which takes you to four overlooks, and is a moderate hike. The second option is Linville Gorge Trail, which is more difficult, but takes you to the base of the waterfall (just know you can’t swim here).
👉 Pro Tip: Linville Gorge is full of scenic and dramatic Asheville hiking trails. Check out Hawksbill Mountain, Table Rock Mountain, and Shortoff Mountain when visiting.
Grandfather Mountain Trail
This strenuous, spectacular hike in Grandfather Mountain State Park is the perfect challenge for expert hikers
You probably know of the family-friendly attraction, Grandfather Mountain. Although located within the state park, Grandfather Mountain Trail is a whole other ball game. This difficult trail is for expert hikers only. Make sure to claim your free permit at the trailhead prior to hiking.
The trail goes along the mountain ridge between the mile high swinging bridge and Calloway Peak. The trek is rugged, steep, and has many cables and ladders involved. Nonetheless, special hiking equipment isn’t required.
Grandfather Mountain Trail takes about 5-6 hours to complete. If you’re not afraid of heights and up for the challenge, this hike has a great pay off. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful and dramatic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Moore Cove Falls
Set in Pisgah National Forest, this easily accessible, family-friendly hike leads to a waterfall you can walk behind
Moore Cove Falls Trail is one of the easier, more mild Asheville hiking trails. It’s located in Pisgah Forest just past Looking Glass Falls. It’s a great option for families who want a simple walk while sightseeing near the town of Brevard.
This hike has only one gentle slope, but is otherwise pretty level. It passes by creeks and you’ll be surrounded by trees. When you reach the end of the trail, you’ll find Moore Cove Falls. As long as you’re careful, you can actually walk behind the cascade! For the coolest experience, visit in the spring and summer when the waterfall is more flowing.
That’s it for the best hikes near Asheville! I hope this guide helped you pick out some potential trails to visit in Western North Carolina.
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