Last Updated on May 24, 2021
Last Updated on May 24, 2021
Anyone familiar with Buncombe County’s largest town will know that there are almost too many hikes near Asheville to name, with all those surrounding mountains to explore.
That’s why we’ve created this list of hiking trails, sticking to those within an hour’s drive from downtown. Why? Because we think that’s the perfect distance for a quick day trip.
Of course, you’re welcome to pursue hikes that are a bit further away, and our guide to hiking in North Carolina can help you there. That’s where you’ll find hikes closer to Cherokee and Bryson City, those found in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, near Boone and Blowing Rock, and more places that take more than an hour to reach from Asheville.
But for now, let’s get back to our favorite hiking trails near Asheville, listed from easy to the most difficult and many in between. Here’s how we’ve organized them:
- Easy Hikes
- Moderate Hikes
- Difficult Hikes
- Map of Hikes Near Asheville
- More Things to Do in Asheville (and Nearby)
These hikes are sorted by the time it takes to reach them (from quickest to longest) within each section. Any tiebreakers will be decided by distance from Asheville (the closest wins), and rock, paper, scissors will follow.
If you’re a visual planner like us, check out our map of hikes near Asheville.
This post is part of our series on Western North Carolina, with a special emphasis on things to do in Asheville. We featured many of these hikes near Asheville in our NC Bucket List Book. We’ve also featured the awesome waterfalls in the area and our favorite restaurants to fill you up after all this exploring.
Hikes Near Asheville
Hikes near Asheville inside larger trail networks or protected areas (ex. DuPont State Recreational Forest) were grouped accordingly. This is why you’ll notice more hikes counted than headings.
Easy Hikes near Asheville
Laurel River Trail
Distance from Asheville: 36 miles (30 minutes)
Hike Distance: 7.2 miles round trip
One of the flattest hikes near Asheville is the Laurel River Trail in Pisgah National Forest. This one wanders along Big Laurel Creek.
This former logging road-turned-trail is perfect for waterside picnics and also, a great place to fish.
Distance from Asheville: 27 miles (32 minutes)
Hike Distance: 3 miles round trip
Catawba Falls is a 100-foot tall mossy waterfall that flows along the Catawba River and is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina. It’s also an easy hike, as you’ll reach Catawba Falls after a steady three miles with a change in elevation in 465 feet.
The ease of this hike is largely credited to trail improvements courtesy of the US Forest Service. It’s also why you can enjoy these falls after a big rain.
Distance from Asheville: 19 miles (33 minutes)
Hike Distance: 2 miles round trip
Instead of seeing bears as the name might suggest, you will most likely see a lot of cows up here! That’s because Bearwallow Mountain is actually a working farm at 4,232 feet.
Glassy Mountain Trail at the Carl Sandburg Home
Distance from Asheville: 31 miles (40 minutes)
Hike Distance: 2.6 round trip
Starting behind the Carl Sandburg Home in Flat Rock, the hike to Big Glassy Mountain is a wooded trail that climbs to a beautiful granite slab. The 267-acre National Historic Site is free to visit.
We recommend taking your time on the property and stopping to say hello to the famous goats!
Moore Cove Falls
Distance from Asheville: 38 miles (45 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1.5 round trip
Moore Cove Falls lies along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, the same road as Looking Glass Falls. The 1.5-mile round trip trail beyond the falls is beautiful alone. However, we think you’ll love the 50-foot falls that await.
Pink Beds Hike
Distance from Asheville: 31 miles (50 minutes)
Hike Distance: 5.3 miles
The Pink Beds Hike sits further up (or down) the same scenic byway as Moore Cove, and is a longer (yet still easy) 5-mile loop. The hike remains relatively flat throughout and very shady, thanks to generous tree cover.
Naturalists love Pink Beds for its wide variety of flora, including plenty of rhododendrons and mountain laurels that bloom in the summer.
Dupont State Recreational Forest
Distance from Asheville: 38 miles (50 minutes)
We’ll mention two hikes inside DuPont State Forest, but want to note that there are roughly 90 miles of trails here in total.
Bridal Veil Falls
Hike Distance: 4.4 miles round trip
Bridal Veil Falls is the first of a few Hunger Games film locations inside DuPont State Forest. Now, there is a much smaller Bridal Veil Falls that sits beside the road near Highlands (and Dry Falls).
This one is a 120-foot cascade over a large rock face. Much of the hike to reach Bridal Veil Falls is via a gravel road, which also makes this an easy waterfall to get to by bike.
Hunger Games fans might also want to know about the Henry River Mill Village in Burke County. You can also refer to it as District 12 and while this is not a hike, it’s a great place to learn some history.
Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls
Hike Distance: 2.2 miles round trip
This triple waterfall hike is one of the best near Asheville! The second in Dupont State Forest that we’ll mention starts with Hooker Falls, before ending up at Triple Falls and High Falls during an easy 2.2-mile out-and-back hike.
Movie fanatics might also recognize these falls from The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans.
Tom’s Creek Falls
Distance from Asheville: 42 miles (53 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1 mile round trip
Tom’s Creek Falls is north of Marion and a very easy, even kid-friendly, hike. the furthest east waterfalls we’ll mention in this post. You’ll reach the 80-foot two-tiered waterfall after a half-mile walk, though you’ll want to stop along the way for looks at the river flowing alongside the trail.
As you reach Tom’s Creek Falls, you’ll notice quite a bit of shiny mica that’s well-known in this area.
Skinny Dip Falls
Distance from Asheville: 33 miles (54 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1 mile round trip
Skinny Dip Falls is one of our favorite hikes near Asheville, mainly for its swimming hole that sits just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Start across the Parkway from the Looking Glass Overlook (Milepost 417) and you can enjoy some of the coldest water on the hottest summer days.
In total, it’s an easy 1-mile round trip that will take you through roots and rocks, between the parking lot and swimming hole.
Black Balsam Knob
Distance from Asheville: 38 miles (1 hour)
Hike Distance: 2 miles
The mountain balds in Asheville are some of the most incredible in the Appalachians, and Black Balsam Knob is one you should check out. Starting on the Art Loeb Trail, you’ll encounter your first bald after half-a-mile. Continue another half-mile to reach the top of Black Balsam Knob.
There is an option to continue on the aforementioned Art Loeb Trail and make your journey a 5-mile loop.
Black Balsam Knob is the first of many Blue Ridge Parkway stops we’ll mention in this guide. It’s also one of a couple of hikes near Asheville that helped land this area on our list of favorite spring break destinations in North Carolina.
Roaring Fork Creek Falls
Distance from Asheville: 47 miles (1 hour 7 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1 mile round trip
Roaring Fork Falls (aka Roaring Fork Creek Falls) is a beautiful Yancey County waterfall that sometimes gets overlooked by Crabtree Falls, which we’ll get to very shortly. Roaring Fork is about 30 minutes from downtown Burnsville and sits at the base of Mount Mitchell.
The hike to Roaring Fork Creek Falls is an easy one-mile round trip with marvelous rewards. You’ll be greeted by a 100-foot long cascade, with room to dip your feet in the water.
Not many people can come here at one time because only 5 to 6 cars are able to park at the trailhead.
Setrock Creek Falls
Distance from Asheville: 36.5 miles (1 hour 11 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1 mile round trip
The Setrock Creek Falls trailhead is at the Black Mountain Campground, just down the road from Roaring Fork Falls. Like its neighbor, you can reach the 75-foot Setrock Creek Falls after a short, half-mile hike.
For part of the trek, your trail will be joined with the 12-mile round trip Mount Mitchell Trail. That one will take you to the summit of Mount Mitchell, and will explain why the parking lot may seem busier than what you find at Setrock Creek Falls.
Moderate Hikes near Asheville
Distance from Asheville: 19 miles (28 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1.4 miles round trip
If you’re looking for quick hikes near Asheville between lunch and that satisfying afternoon beer, try Lookout Mountain. This one is a 1.4-mile round trip hike in Montreat that starts slow and then picks up in elevation.
You can enjoy views of the Seven Sisters on this hike. And fall foliage might be one of the best reasons to go, but this hike is good throughout much of the year.
Distance from Asheville: 20 miles (40 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1.2 miles
Panoramic views from Craggy Pinnacle are just one of the reasons we love this awesome set of hikes near Asheville. The Craggy Gardens are about 3,500 feet higher in elevation than Asheville very popular, especially in June when the rhododendrons bloom.
There are a few trails here worth mentioning, and we’ll start with the moderate Craggy Pinnacle Trail (1.2 miles round trip) that leads to some pretty epic views.
There’s also the Craggy Gardens Trail (1.9 miles round trip), which runs through tree-covered, rhododendron-filled paths. It runs into the more strenuous Douglas Falls Trail (8 miles round trip) shortly after you start.
Follow that last one and you’ll eventually reach the 70-foot namesake waterfall.
Mount Pisgah Trail
Distance from Asheville: 24 miles (40 minutes)
Hike Distance: 2.6 miles round trip
The 5,721-foot peak of Mount Pisgah is easily recognizable throughout much of Asheville. And if you flip the script and climb Mount Pisgah, you can peer down into downtown Asheville on a clear day.
This hike is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 407 and your change in elevation is about 750 feet.
Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower
Distance from Asheville: 26 miles (43 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
The Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower was built in 1941 by the United States Forest Service and the hike to reach it is gravelly and a steady climb up.
From the tower, you’ll see Cold Mountain, Looking Glass Rock, and more via stunning panoramic views. While the actual top of the tower is locked and closed to visitors, you can climb the first five flights of stairs to get some epic looks at your surroundings.
Distance from Asheville: 41 miles (48 minutes)
Hike Distance: 0.2 miles round trip
Soco Falls can be seen from a viewing platform that’s about 100 feet from the parking lot but reaching it can get tricky, especially if it’s recently rained.
And honestly, we think the best views come from a short hike and scramble to the bottom. We listed this hike as moderate only because the path down requires the use of established ropes on a narrow path.
The parking area is small, too, so be prepared. Like many other people, Soco Falls is easily one of our favorite waterfalls to stare at for as long as possible.
Distance from Asheville: 45 miles (53 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Waterrock Knob is the last hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway if you’re headed south toward MP 469. And it fits the “best for last” billing because this is one terrific spot for hiking.
And if you don’t feel the Summit Hike, the views from the parking area at 5,719 feet are worth the drive! Of course, venturing up to the top will get you even better views.
The hike is steep, gaining 412 feet in elevation over a half-mile. However, on a clear day, you can see even the highest mountains in the Smokies.
Mount Mitchell State Park
Distance from Asheville: 35 miles (54 minutes)
Mount Mitchell is the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi and highest in the Black Mountains. Inside Mount Mitchell state park, you’ll find trails for every level of hiker. For starters, you can enjoy the observation deck’s panoramic views after a few hundred-yard stroll on the Summit Trail (0.3 miles round trip).
There’s more challenging Balsam Nature Trail (0.75-mile loop), and then you get into the tougher stuff. The strenuous Old Mitchell Trail (4.4 miles round trip) takes you from the park office to the top and the Deep Gap Trail (8.6 miles round trip) hikes both peaks of Mount Mitchell and Mount Craig.
Finally, the Mount Mitchell Trail (12 miles round trip) begins at the Black Mountain Campground where you start for Setrock Creek Falls and ends at the summit.
We think Mount Mitchell is the perfect introduction to Yancey County and all the things to do in Burnsville.
John Rock Trail
Distance from Asheville: 38 miles (55 minutes)
Hike Distance: 5.7 miles round trip
You’ll climb over 1,000 feet in elevation over 5 miles when hiking John Rock inside Pisgah National Forest. The trailhead starts at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and you’ll pass an offshoot trail that leads to Cedar Rock Falls.
Please careful when you reach the stone face of John Rock, as it’s a 200-foot from the cliff.
Distance from Asheville: 49 miles (59 minutes)
Hike Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
Crabtree Falls is one of our absolute favorite hikes that you’ll access off the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 339). Beyond the fun hike, there’s a 70-foot waterfall to marvel at for as long as you’d like.
Just get here as early as possible, because this one is on many people’s bucket lists, not just ours! The hike is a moderate 2.5-mile loop, though you can take the shorter, rockier way back. However, the loop is much more scenic on the return, and easier in my personal experience.
Distance from Asheville: 39 miles (1 hour)
Hike Distance: 1 mile round trip
According to legend, the rock at the Devil’s Courthouse summit has a cave where Satan holds court. Whether or not you believe those old tales, the hike to Devil’s Courthouse offers beautiful views of the mountains after a mostly paved half-mile climb.
From the summit of 5,720 feet, you can see North Carolina, but also South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. This is a great hike to combine with Graveyard Fields and Black Balsam Knob.
Distance from Asheville: 40 miles (1 hour)
Hike Distance: 3.5 miles round trip
One of the most frequented stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway is Graveyard Fields. Not only does it have wide open spaces for stretching your legs, but this is also a popular trail that leads to one of the best waterfalls near Asheville.
Speaking of those clear areas, that’s where the name Graveyard Fields came from, due to a 1925 fire. This hike will get you to two waterfalls, with one that is very easy to access and another that is more elusive.
Difficult Hikes near Asheville
Big Butt Trail
Distance from Asheville: 20 miles (45 minutes)
Hike Distance: 5.6 miles round trip
Starting at the Walker Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 358), Big Butt Trail isn’t a remix of Sir Mix A-Lot’s greatest hit. Instead, the butts are large rock outcroppings that are abundant on this long and strenuous trail.
Stop at Misery Point (what a name!) and Little Butt before turning back around at Big Butt.
Lover’s Leap Loop Trail
Distance from Asheville: 35 miles (45 minutes)
Hike Distance: 1.6 miles
The only hike on our list that follows the Appalachian Trail is Lover’s Leap. This one is a short but strenuous hike.
And the name suggests, it’s said that a woman with a broken heart leapt from the rock to her demise. Aside from the sad story, you will start in the town of Hot Springs along the French Broad River.
From there, you’ll hike to a beautiful viewpoint that’ll show off beautiful surroundings, including the spot where you began.
Looking Glass Rock
Distance from Asheville: 37 miles (46 minutes)
Hike Distance: 6.4 miles
Climbing over 1,700 feet in elevation in 3 miles, the Looking Glass Rock Trail is one of the most difficult yet rewarding hikes near Asheville. The rock may look like it would be impossible to hike, though many professional rock climbers do scale it!
However, you can reach the top of Looking Glass Rock from the backside.
West Fork Trail in Pinnacle Park
Distance from Asheville: 47 miles (50 minutes)
Hike Distance: 7.6 miles round trip
Pinnacle Park in Sylva offers amazing looks into Jackson County from an old logging road. The 3.4-mile hike along West Fork Trail climbs 2,000 feet in elevation, with some rocky and uneven sections.
When you reach the pinnacle, you will be rewarded with incredible panoramic views that will take your breath away!
Ready for These Hikes Near Asheville?
From the easiest to the most difficult, we’re absolutely ready for more of these hikes near Asheville. But we weren’t asking ourselves, here. What about you? Are you ready to dig into these wonderful trails?
We just hope you enjoy them as you begin or continue exploring this awesome part of Western North Carolina. And if you’ve been on some of these mountains, we’d love to know which are your favorites?
Also, please let us know if there’s a path (or more) that we need to explore and eventually add to the mix. Just let us know in the comments section or contact us via email if that better suits you.