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Hiking in Asheville, North Carolina: The 20 Best Trails in 2023

Hiking in Asheville, North Carolina is something all outdoor lovers must experience once in their lifetime!

Imagine strolling through meadows speckled with wildflowers while crossing over creeks with beautiful waterfalls, munching on wild berries, and summiting high, breezy cliffs with panoramic mountain views!  You can enjoy all of this and more around Asheville, North Carolina!

Whether you go in the summer when the flowers are in bloom are head out in the fall when North Carolina is decked out in yellow, red, and orange you are bound to find something both beautiful and memorable!

Here are the 20 best Asheville hiking trails to satisfy all types of outdoor enthusiasts.

Hiking in Asheville, NC: The 20 Best Hikes

Hiking in Asheville North Carolina
Photo Credit: Mickey Estes; Pixabay

1. Looking Glass Rock Trail

Extending from southern Pennsylvania down through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, to Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia, the Blue Ridge Mountains have some of the most scenic hiking trails along the east coast.

The Looking Glass Rock Trail located in the Pisgah National Forest, is one of the best hiking trails in the area offering beautiful views of the famous Blue Ridge Parkway and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Named for the way that the light reflects off the very large rock you will find along the trail, this is one of the more popular hiking trails in the area so it can get quite busy. It makes a great winter hike – just watch for icy and slippery rock faces!

Know before you go: It can be very steep and strenuous in parts so this trail is not recommended for beginner hikers.

Distance from Asheville: 45 Minutes 

Elevation Gain: 1700 feet 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Length: 2.6 miles

2. Rattlesnake Lodge Trail

This trail does not have panoramic views or jaw-dropping summits of some of the other hikes near Asheville, but it offers the unique experience of exploring the ruins of Rattlesnake Lodge.  This ruined lodge was named for its living room ceiling that was covered in Rattlesnake skins!

Know before you go: this trail follows the popular “Mountain to Sea Trail” making it easy to add on for a unique hiking experience. 

Distance from Asheville: 20 mins

Elevation Gain: 882 Feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 3.7 Miles

Related Content: Fall in Virginia: 15 Best Spots for Fall Foliage in Virginia

3. Log Hollow Falls Trail

As you may have guessed from the name, this trail leads to some amazing waterfalls – Discovery Falls, Logging Road Falls, Upper Log Hollow Falls, and Log Hollow Falls. The trail used to be an old logging road which is where it got its name.

Know before you go: The namesake waterfall, Log Hollow Falls, is just a half mile from the trailhead making it an easy in-and-out trail if you’re getting tired for the day but still want to see some of the many waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest.

Distance from Asheville: 1 hour

Elevation Gain: 347 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 2.5 miles

4. Moore Cove Falls Trail

If you’re looking for an easy yet beautiful hike, Moore Cove Falls is where you need to be. This is one of the easiest hikes in the Asheville area but also one of the most scenic. Think of bridges with lush greenery, beautiful wildflowers, and a wooden platform that leads to a stunning 50-foot-tall waterfall!

Know before you go: This is one of the few waterfalls in the area that allows you to go behind it. Just exercise caution as the rocks can be quite slippery. We recommend using waterproof hiking shoes for this trail.

Distance from Asheville: 50 mins

Elevation Gain: 154 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.2 Miles

5. Craggy Gardens Trail

If you’re driving down the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway this trail makes an easy stop to get out and stretch your legs. It also happens to end at a beautiful picnic area making it a great lunch stop.

Knowing for its wildflowers and rhododendrons in the Spring and wild blueberries and blackberries in the late Summer, this easy hiking trail in Asheville, NC offers hikers incredible views of both Mount Mitchel and Mount Craig.

Know before you go: If you think that fall foilage in southern Virginia is gorgeous, then you definitely want to head a few more hours south to North Carolina. The Craggy Gardens trail is known as one of the best trails near Asheville to see foliage. If you can check it out during the fall, when the leaves change, you are in for a treat!

Distance from Asheville: 40 mins

Elevation Gain: 574 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 2.2 mile

Recommended Content: Best Hikes on the East Coast

6. Mount Pisgah Trail

hiking in blue ridge mountains
Photo Credit: YarnSeasons; Pixabay

Mount Pisgah is one of the most iconic mountains in the area and it can be seen from downtown Asheville.  While this trail is not for the faint of heart, hikers will be rewarded at the end of their hike with a wooden observation deck featuring sweeping views of Cold Mountain, Looking Glass Rock, and Frying Pan Mountain.

Know before you go: the first ½ mile or so of the hike is going to seem easy. However, from then on, it’s going to be quite a steep ascent so be prepared! 

Distance from Asheville: 40 mins

Elevation Gain: 750 Feet.

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 2.6 miles

7. Glassy Mountain Trail

This trail offers hikers a 2-for-1 experience as it begins at the beginning of a National Historic Site – The Carl Sandburg Home. Once you’re done exploring the home you can head up for a relatively easy trail to find views of iconic Mount Pisgah and South Carolina.

Know before you go: There are 5 miles of trails on the Carl Sandburg Home property, so this makes for a great spot to spend the entire day exploring!

Distance from Asheville: 50 mins

Elevation Gain: 523 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.3 Miles

Related Content: Practical Guide to Backpacking Virginia’s Three Ridges Loop

8. Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Located in the DuPont State Forest, the main feature of this trail is the 120-foot waterfall.  While there are many trails to get to the falls, we recommend you take the Bridal Veil Falls Trail as there are also multiple other falls on that trail if you want to extend your hike.

Know before you go: These falls were featured in the movies “The Last of the Mohicans” and “The Hunger Games”

Distance from Asheville: 1 ½ hours

Elevation Gain: 587 Feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 4.4 Miles

9. Beacon Heights Trail

While this short “hike” is less of a hike and more of a nice walk, it makes the list because it features multiple overlooks with stunning views of the Linville Gorge, Table Rock Mountain, and Mount Mitchell.  It’s easy to get off the Blue Ridge Parkway so it makes a nice stop for lunch and to snap a few photos. It also makes a nice detour stop if you’re going from Raleigh to Asheville for the weekend!

Know before you go: This short hike follows the “Mountains to Sea Trail” for a little bit and then will veer to the left to the overlooks with spectacular views.

Distance from Asheville: 1 ½ hours

Elevation Gain: 150 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: .8 Miles

10. Max Patch Loop

This trail is unique in that it features tree-less mountains at the summit! What it lacks in trees it makes up in beautiful wildflowers, making it a popular picnic spot. This trail is part of the Appalachian Trail and is located near the Tennesse-North Carolina Border. Hikers will be rewarded with views of 3 mountain ranges – The Black Mountains, Great Balsams, and Great Smoky Mountains.

Know before you go: this spot is known as one of the best spots to stop along the Appalachian Trail, which is great for those who aren’t ready to hike the entire 2000+ mile length of the trail!

Distance from Asheville: 1 hour

Elevation Gain: 308 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.5 Miles

11. Graveyard Fields Trail

This trail is known for its tree stumps that were all cut down and now resemble tombstones.  Along the trail, you will find meadows, flowers, and wild blueberry bushes in the late Summer. If you continue along the trail, you will also find Graveyard Falls.

Know before you go: if you plan to go blueberry picking, the limit is one gallon per day.

Distance from Asheville: 1 hour

Elevation Gain: 450 Feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 3.5 Miles

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12. Devil’s Courthouse Trail

Named for the way the summit looks like a menacing face when you see it from the base of the mountain, this is one of the most popular hikes near Asheville. It’s short but offers incredible, panoramic views of multiple states.

Know before you go: while this trail is short and paved, it is quite steep so don’t let its 1 mile distance fool you!

Distance from Asheville: 1 hour

Elevation Gain: 272 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1 Mile

13. Graybeard Trail

This difficult trail is not for the beginner hiker due to its path that grows increasingly steep as you continue. However, hikers who push through will also be increasingly rewarded with spectacular views of all 7 peaks of the Black Mountains, known as the “Seven Sisters.”

Know before you go: This trail is known as one the best places to see fall colors in North Carolina, so try to plan your visit for late September or into October.

Distance from Asheville: 30 mins

Elevation Gain:  2400 Feet 

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 8.8 Miles

14. Bearwallow Mountain Trail

Asheville NC hikes
Photo Credit: Annette Meredith; Pixabay

Bearwallow trail is another great spot for those who prioritize beautiful scenery with hikes that are on the shorter and easier side. The summer features a grassy meadow, grazing cows, a historic fire lookout and tower, and views of Mount Mitchell, Mount Pisgah, and more surrounding mountain ranges. 

Know before you go: The trail is one mile each way or follow a gravel road back to the parking lot if you want to do it as a loop.

Distance from Asheville: 35 mins

Elevation Gain: 611 Feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 2 Miles

15. Mount Mitchell Trail

Winding among a dense, spruce-fir-packed forest you’ll find a very rocky and steep trail that leads to a high mountain peak.  This trail should only be traversed by experienced climbers due to the elevation and tricky nature of the hike.  Those who brave it will be rewarded with an observation deck featuring panoramic views of the surrounding Black Mountains.

Know before you go:  this trail leads to the highest peak east of the Mississippi River!

Distance from Asheville: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Elevation Gain: 3,600 Feet

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 11.4 Miles

16. Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Trail

The mostly gravel trail is named after the historic 700-foot-tall steel lookout tower, this hike is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and will also allow the hiker to see Looking Glass Rock, Mount Pisgah, and Cold Mountain. 

Know before you go: dogs are welcome but must be leashed.

Distance from Asheville: 50 mins

Elevation Gain: 357 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.5 Miles

17. Sam Knob Trail

Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find Sam Knob Mountain. This trail winds through a wildflower-filled meadow and into a lush forest and ends with stunning, picturesque views of Devil’s Courthouse and Black Balsam Knob.

Know before you go: due to the mountain’s high elevation, it stays relatively cool and breezy even in the summer making it a popular spot to beat the North Carolina Heat.

Distance from Asheville: 1 hour

Elevation Gain: 492 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 2.5 Miles

18. Hawksbill Mountain Trail

This hike ends at a summit with 360º panoramic views of the Linville Gorge which are some of the best views you will find while hiking in Asheville, NC.  If you go on a clear day, you can even see the skyline of Charlotte which is 90 miles away!

Know before you go: Peak fall colors in the gorge are the third or fourth week of October so time your visit accordingly if you want to see North Carolina all dressed up for fall!

Distance from Asheville: 1 ½ hours

Elevation Gain: 695 Feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 2.4 Miles

19. Black Balsam Knob Trail

For hikers looking for something easier, you will love this minimal-elevation trail that offers amazing views of Shining Rock Mountain. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll hike through a beautiful Balsam forest and summit on a bald mountain top covered with beautiful wildflowers.

Know before you go: This hike is part of the Art Loeb Trail (below) which starts at milepost 420 just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Distance from Asheville: 1 hour

Elevation Gain: 300 Feet

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.4 Miles

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20. Art Loeb Trail

Last on the list is the hardest trail of the bunch. This trail is for those looking for a serious, multi-day hike. The trail winds through the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Pisgah National Forest, crosses the Black Balsam Peaks, and finishes at Cold Mountain. There are many campsites along the way to stop as this is a multi-day adventure.

Know before you go: There are many smaller hikes along the Art Loeb Trail, such as the Black Balsam Knob Trail above, if you’re not up for the multi-day adventure. 

Distance from Asheville: 45 mins

Elevation Gain: 6500 Feet

Difficulty: Very Hard

Length: 28.5 Miles

FAQ

Best Hikes in Asheville NC
Photo Credit: Susan Clark; Pixabay

Is Asheville, NC good for hiking?

Being central to many mountains and national forests, Asheville is an incredible home base to use for hiking in North Carolina.

Does Asheville, NC have waterfalls?

Yes! Pisgah National Park, just outside of Asheville, is known as the “Land of Waterfalls” with more than 300 of them!

What is so special about Asheville?

Asheville is a funky, hipster mountain with incredible art, restaurants, and food.  As it’s nestled in the mountains it’s also a top spot for nature lovers. The diverse culture and things to do in Asheville is what makes it so special. 

Conclusion: Hiking in Asheville North Carolina

With plenty of forests, mountains, meadows, and waterfalls, hiking around Asheville is a nature lover’s dream!

Whether you are looking for something short, something with sweeping views, something challenging, or even a multi-day adventure you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for when hiking in Asheville.

Be sure to stop in the city itself to check out the incredible culinary scene – you will have worked up an appetite after all that exploring! 

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