Ah, the hiking in Asheville! It’s home to some of the best trails in the Eastern part of the United States. Several of the hikes on our list are located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and some are further outside of the city. Lots of locals will refer to trailhead parking lots being located at a certain mile marker off the Parkway so we’ve included them in here as well when applicable.
We’ve also shared distances (round-trip) and difficulty (easy, moderate, strenuous) so that you can make an informed decision before you head out on an adventure! Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and remember to Leave No Trace!
15 BEST HIKES NEAR ASHEVILLE NC
1. Mount Pisgah
Drive from Asheville: 35 miles / 51 minutes away
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.42105, -82.74984
This is one of the most popular hikes in the area. The trailhead is located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile 407.6 and has a fairly large parking lot to accommodate the weekend crowds. The trail is rocky in sections and though it’s only a mile and a half up to the summit (5,721 feet), some sections are strenuous. There is a large tower at the top but the view is still incredible.
2. Craggy Gardens Trail
Drive from Asheville: 19.6 miles / 39 minutes away
Distance: 1.6 miles round-trip
Trailhead Address: 364 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Black Mountain, NC 28711
The trail, which is a Natural Heritage Area, starts at the Visitor Center. About a quarter mile into the hike, you’ll pass under a trail shelter that offers shade from the sun during warmer months. If you keep hiking for another half mile or so you will come to a bald that in mid-June is pink and purple with the flowers of the Catawba rhododendron. This trail is worth visiting year round. In the fall, the mountain ash produces a red berry that is a photographer’s delight. In the winter, many of the trees are covered in ice, which gives the mountain a shimmering, frosted look. No matter the season, please stay on the trail as this is a fragile eco-system and one that is damaged by human footsteps.
3. Craggy Pinnacle Trail
Drive from Asheville: 19.6 miles / 39 minutes away
Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
Trailhead Address: 3641 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Barnardsville, NC 28709
Want an awesome view but don’t want to be in the woods for half a day? No worries, this trail is short (3/4 of a mile to the top) and sweet. There are a few trees at the summit so you can bring along a hammock for the best rest of your life. Full disclosure: it climbs 252 feet in elevation and is not flat, but you get a head start on the elevation because the parking lot sits at 5,640 feet.
4. Looking Glass Hike
Drive from Asheville: 38 miles / 53 mins away
Distance: 6.5 miles roundtrip
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.30372, -82.79346
Wake up early, get to the trailhead before everyone else does to set forth on one of the most popular hikes in the area. About two miles into the hike you’ll come to a flat rock area or clearing used for helicopter landings for rescuing rock climbers. This is a good place to rest but don’t quit here, the view coming up is more than worth it. This is one of my favorite hikes in the area. The elevation is only 1,700 feet but it feels like you’re much higher. My first time there, I felt like we were out west.
5. DuPont State Forest
Drive from Asheville: 39 miles / 1 hr 7 mins away
Distance: 3 miles
Trailhead Address: 89 Buck Forest Rd, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718
There are 86 miles of trails here! Located between Brevard and Hendersonville, it’s a 40-mile drive from Asheville. This is a 3-mile hike taking you to 3 separate waterfalls (Hooker, Triple, and High Falls). The park is free and open 5 am to 10 pm, so bring breakfast for a sunrise hike or watch the sunlight fade and the stars appear for a night picnic. If you’re looking to avoid crowds here, visit early in the day or during the week.
6. Max Patch Hike
Drive from Asheville: 52 miles / 1 hr 16 mins away
Distance: 1.4 mile loop (crosses the summit) / 2.4 mile loop (circles the mountain)
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.79638, -82.95855
When Caroline’s parents came to visit, we took them hiking here. Her dad said that it was the highlight of his entire trip. Getting there (and back) can be tricky because the turnoffs are not marked well. We recommend taking notes or snapping photos at the turns. It can look very different on the drive back out and several sections of the road are gravel lanes. As her dad will vouch, the view is more than worth it. Can you even imagine a 350-acre grassy bald with panoramic views?
7. Graveyard Fields Loop
Drive from Asheville: 35 miles / 58 minutes away
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.32091, -82.85291
Several hundred years ago, high winds toppled the trees leaving stumps that resembled gravestones across the valley. A wildfire in 1925 scorched all growth here after recently being logged and the area has been slow to recover since. There are two waterfalls here in a mile-high valley surrounded by wildflowers. The colors as the leaves change in the fall are glorious with 360-degree views of 6,000-foot peaks.
8. Sliding Rock
Drive from Asheville: 35 miles / 59 mins away
Distance: A short walk from the parking area
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.3115, -82.78723
Sliding rock is an exhilarating natural water slide. Caroline’s dad slid over this rock when he was a kid! Right off the road is a 60-foot long smooth sloping boulder with 11,000 gallons of water flowing per minute. At the end of the slide is an 8 ft deep swimming hole, so make sure you can swim. The water temperature stays chilly (between 50-60 degrees), so it’s extremely popular on hot summer days and the lines can get long. When lifeguards are on duty (seasonally), it’s $2 admission.
9. Mt. Mitchell Summit Trail
Drive from Asheville: 37 miles / 1hr 9 mins away
Distance: 1/10 mile
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.76544, -82.26508
Mt. Mitchell is the highest mountain in the Eastern United States. The summit is located within Mt. Mitchell State Park, which is free to enter and is easily located off the Parkway. Not feeling up for a hike today but still want the view? You can actually drive almost all the way to the top for a panoramic view.
Pro Tip: If you’re up for a longer day of hiking, consider the Mount Mitchell Trail which is 5.6 miles long and considered strenuous. It’s steep in sections but the views are more than worth it.
10. Sam Knob Hike
Drive from Asheville: 37 miles / 1 hr away
Distance: 2.2 miles roundtrip
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.32572, -82.882
Sam Knob is great for a spectacular view since it sits at an elevation of 6,045 feet and is located on a bald with rocks and shrubs (read: very little stands in your way of a panoramic photograph). The trail starts out as gravel, gives way to a boardwalk, and then turns into singletrack with big rocks.
Pro Tip: The view at the top is fantastic but be sure to bring sunscreen since there is very little shade at the top.
11. Rattlesnake Lodge Trail (part of the Mountains to Sea Trail)
Drive from Asheville: 14 miles / 20 minutes away
Distance: 2.8 roundtrip
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.669750, -82.471250
The MST or MTS Trail is an 1,150-mile trail that runs east/west from the mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. The entire trail is not finished, but it is still the longest trail in the state of North Carolina. Want to hike the MTS but don’t have a few months to devote to the trek? Park off Ox Creek Road and hike a section of it! Dr. Chase Ambler built this summer home for his family in 1904 and was in use until 1926 when it burned down. You will see remains of a spring house, pool, main reservoir, ‘the Shack’, cow barn, and main lodge. Though right on the Parkway, this hike quickly veers away from it so that little traffic noise can be heard the further along the trail you get.
12. Shut In Trail
Drive from Asheville: 10 miles / 16 min away
Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Trailhead Address: 3938 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Arden, NC 28704
The Shut-In Trail was constructed by George W. Vanderbilt (he also constructed the Biltmore Estate!). It starts at NC Highway 191 near Bent Creek and goes to the Mount Pisgah Parking Area. The entire trail is 16.3 miles long and there is even a pretty famous running race that takes place on this trail on the first Saturday in November. Most people don’t want to do the entire trail because overnight camping is not allowed along the Parkway, so day hikes are common. Park at the French Broad overlook, milepost 393.8. The trail starts at the Parkway’s entrance/exit ramp for NC 191.
13. Lake Powhatan at Bent Creek
Drive from Asheville: 10 miles / 16 mins away
Distance: 1.5 mile roundtrip
Trailhead Address: 375 Wesley Branch Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Bent Creek is part of the original 1,100 acres purchased by George Vanderbilt of the Biltmore Estate. Park at the Lake Powhatan recreation area and from here you can navigate an easy wooded walk that takes you around the lake. Fishing and swimming are allowed, so bring an ice chest filled with snacks to spend an entire afternoon or book a campsite and make it an overnight!
14. Black Balsam Knob
Drive from Asheville: 37.6 miles / 1 hr 4 min away
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.32558, -82.88198
If you hike this, you’ll be climbing the 23rd highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6,000 feet. Actual elevation? 6,214. The views are as good as you imagine at this height. In the winter, some of the trees get covered in ice and will give the mountainside a silvery look. The parking lot is conveniently located at Mile 420.2.
15. Devil’s Courthouse
Distance: 1 mile roundtrip
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.30288, -82.89568
If you’re into old folklore, this is the hike for you. The rock profile has led locals to call it “devilish.” It’s also home to a cave where, in Cherokee lore, the devil holds court. This hike is short and is located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile 422.4. It’s great if you don’t have a lot of time but still want a great view. It’s short (a half mile) but also steep and strenuous. Elevation? 5,720 feet!
Pro Tip: The trail is paved but flip flops are not recommended.