Last Updated on September 23, 2021
Last Updated on September 23, 2021
If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.
Thanks to its perfect location in the mountains of North Carolina, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking in Hendersonville and its surroundings. Some of NC’s best trails are found here, and we’re going to share those within an hour’s drive from the Henderson County seat.
Some of the best hiking trails in Hendersonville’s surroundings feature familiar spots in Western North Carolina. They include our favorite hikes in the Asheville area, stops off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and more!
There’s quite a bit of area to cover, so we’ve organized this guide into the following sections:
- Check Before You Go (Local News and Weather Reports)
- Leave No Trace Reminder
- Hiking in Hendersonville and Henderson County (DuPont State Forest and More Trails!)
- Hiking near Hendersonville (Trails Within 1 Hour)
- Forest Heritage Scenic Byway Hikes Within 1 Hour
- Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes Within 1 Hour
- More Things to Do in Hendersonville (Plus Related Posts)
Check Before You Go Hiking in Hendersonville
Before you start driving toward any of these awesome trails, we ask you to please keep up with local news and weather reports.
Some may be unsafe and inaccessible due to various reasons. Please respect local and official guidance (and signage) and plan your visit accordingly.
Leave No Trace Reminder
It is always an important reminder whenever going outdoors to leave no trace. Take any trash you bring with you out and while you’re at it, pick up any you might find!
Many great organizations like the North Carolina Waterfall Keepers help keep our state beautiful, but we all share a responsibility not to harm our outdoor surroundings.
Do your best to keep your impact low, respect those around you, and keep NC wild!
Hiking in Hendersonville and Henderson County (Trails)
We’ve organized these hiking trails in Hendersonville (and nearby) from closest to furthest away in driving time.
Carl Sandburg Home
Distance from Hendersonville: 4 miles (12 minutes)
Hike Distances Vary
If you are seeking more outdoor time, then visit the Carl Sandburg Home. This National Parks site protects Connemara, the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer, and spreads out over 264 acres.
There are 5 miles of hiking trails here, and the two most popular are the Memminger Trail (0.9 miles) and the Glassy Mountain Trail (1.5 miles).
Jump Off Rock Hiking Trails
Distance from Hendersonville: 5 miles (15 minutes)
Hike Distances Vary
Jump Off Rock is a great roadside overlook in Laurel Park. Three hiking trails start from its parking lot.
These hikes range in difficulty and distance, and here they are in order of easiest and shortest:
- Blue (480 feet, 10 minutes, easy)
- Yellow (1,221 feet, 14 minutes, moderate)
- Red (1,239 feet, 25 minutes, moderate)
DuPont State Recreational Forest Hikes
Distance from Hendersonville to Visitor Center Access: 16 miles (26 minutes)
Hike Distances Vary
DuPont State Recreational Forest is the first name that comes to mind when people think about hiking in Henderson’s surroundings. It’s technically shared by Henderson and Transylvania counties, which is why we’ve included it in the former section.
This is easily the best place for outdoor recreation in Henderson County. With 12,500 acres, there are more than 86 miles of well-maintained trails (on gravel Forest Service roads and natural surfaces) and beautiful waterfalls.
Here are a handful of hikes that we highly recommend:
- Triple Falls Loop: This is the most popular hike within DuPont State Forest. It will take you 3 miles round trip to three waterfalls (Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls). The trails to reach these falls are moderate, with a few hills on well-maintained gravel paths. We think that this is the perfect hike for people of all fitness levels, because of the fairly moderate inclines. One exception is the base of High Falls, which requires a bit of scrambling down and back up a spur trail. You enjoy awesome views of it from the trail, but hiking down to the base of the falls is highly tempting.
- High Falls Loop: Another option is to park at the High Falls Visitor Center and hike the 2-mile High Falls Loop. You’ll see High Falls and Triple Falls along this one.
- Hooker Falls Hike: Both the Triple Falls and High Falls loops are among the most popular trails in DuPont State Forest, but Hooker Falls is an easy half-mile hike from the first parking area.
- Bridal Veil Falls Hike (or Bike Ride): Starting from the High Falls Parking Area (continue straight to the right instead of the High Falls Loop), you can hike (or ride a bike) 4.4 miles roundtrip to Bridal Veil Falls. The 120-foot waterfall is excellent for photos and for enjoying a picnick at its base. There will be plenty of signage directing you to the waterfall, and you will also go through the covered bridge that can be seen above High Falls. From there, you’ll turn right down Conservation Road and follow it until turning right at Bridal Veil Falls Road. There are a handful of hills along the way, and Bridal Veil Falls Road is pretty much a straight descent (ascent on the way back). Be prepared to gear up and down if you’re riding.
- Three Lakes Hike: The Three Lakes Hike (0.8 miles) is off Conservation Road and will take you to see Lake Dense, Lake Alford, and Lake Julia. You can also just see Lake Julia by turning left past Bridal Veil Falls Road. The 99-acre lake is the largest in DuPont State Forest. The total distance to Lake Julia is 1.7 miles from the High Falls Access.
Don’t stop at DuPont when you think about hiking in Hendersonville, as there are even more diverse trails to hit. The next one is among the most unique in the area.
Bearwallow Mountain Trail
Distance from Hendersonville: 15 miles (31 minutes)
Hike Distance: 2 miles round trip
Bearwallow Mountain is one of our favorite places to go hiking in Hendersonville’s surroundings. You’ll truly feel like you are in the Sound of Music on top of this mountain bald.
Maintained and preserved by Conserving Carolina, Bearwallow Mountain is a 1-mile moderate trail with mountain views of the Hickory Nut Gorge and even cows.
Our suggestion is to take the trail up and then go down the fire road access. There is a 537-foot change in elevation, but the trail is so scenic you will hardly notice.
Hiking Near Hendersonville (Trails Within 1 Hour)
NC Arboretum Hikes
Distance from Hendersonville: 18 miles (23 minutes)
A few trails here allow bikes, but the Azalea Collection Trail (0.5 miles), the Bent Creek Trail (1.3 miles), and the Carolina Mountain Trail (1.2 miles) are reserved for foot traffic only.
Spend a day (or longer) hiking the NC Arboretum, and you’ll see why this is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in North Carolina.
Distance from Hendersonville: 17 miles (25 minutes)
Hike Distance: Various
The Tryon Garden Club manages this waterfall and its surroundings, including a beautiful forest (known as a Glen).
Reaching it requires a short hike, which some may consider more of a walk. There are also spring-fed streams along the Pearson Family Walking Trail (0.25 miles), which takes you to the gorgeous namesake 90-foot waterfall.
A purchased ticket is required to enter, but your admission goes toward maintenance and future conservation efforts.
Chimney Rock State Park
Distance from Hendersonville: 20 miles (44 minutes)
Hike Distances Vary
Hike the Outcropping Trail (0.4-mile loop) to reach the top of Chimney Rock itself, though an elevator will get you there, too.
The Exclamation Point Trail (0.6-mile loop) is definitely one of the park’s hardest, but it leads to epic views from the edge of Exclamation Point at 2,480 feet. The Skyline Trail (1.1 miles) starts at Exclamation Point and will take you even higher to Peregrine Point at 2,640 feet.
Catawba Falls Trail
Distance from Hendersonville: 50 miles (55 minutes)
The Catawba Falls Trail sits off I-40 (Exit 73), just an hour northeast of Hendersonville. The 100-foot falls are your final destination after a steady 1.5-mile hike (3 miles round trip) along the Catawba River.
Smaller cascades appear along your hike, and there’s an interesting stone foundation from the 1900s-era dam that once produced power here.
Mossy rocks and beautiful rhododendrons surround catawba Falls itself. You can enjoy a full view of the lower cascades at the base.
You can climb to the upper cascades, but this route is extremely strenuous, and it is advised that you have proper footgear to scale to the top.
Forest Heritage Scenic Byway Hikes Within 1 Hour
While officials have closed much of this road and its highlights to keep visitors out of danger, we include hikes along this road, hoping that they will soon open up. Please respect signage and local guidance, no matter when you decide to visit.
Some of the best hiking in Hendersonville’s neighbor to the west (Transylvania County) is found along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. Some of NC’s best waterfalls are here, too, including the roadside Looking Glass Falls and easy-to-reach Sliding Rock.
However, you’ll need to hike to reach Moore Cove Falls (1.5 miles round trip).
The Looking Glass Rock Trail (6.5 miles round trip) and the John Rock Trail (5.7 miles round trip) start around the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. Each hike climbs more than 1,000 feet, so be prepared for long, steep climbs.
Near the Blue Ridge Parkway intersection with US-276 is the Pink Beds Trailhead. The trail is an easy 5-mile loop that gets its name from the blooming pink wildflowers, such as mountain laurel and rhododendron, that dot the path.
French Broad Falls (also known as Mill Shoals) sits on the NC-215 side of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. The namesake falls are the most popular, considering it’s the first thing you’ll see when entering the privately owned property.
Another great waterfall (Bird Rock Falls aka Cathedral Falls) awaits after a short, 1/4-mile trek.
Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes Within 1 Hour
It takes just over an hour to reach popular Blue Ridge Parkway hikes like Graveyard Fields (1 hour 5 minutes), Craggy Gardens (1 hour 7 minutes), and Black Balsam Knob (1 hour 10 minutes), but here are a few more within an hour’s drive of Hendersonville.
Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower (MP 409.6) juts out alongside the Parkway and is reachable within a 7/10 to 8/10 of a mile hike (1.5 miles roundtrip). You can get some nice 360-degree views from the stairs, too.
Mount Pisgah was once owned by George Washington Vanderbilt (of Biltmore fame), and today, it’s a popular stop Blue Ridge Parkway stop (MP 408).
You can eat and stay at the Pisgah Inn & Restaurant, and you can also hike the 16-mile Shut-In Trail. This leads to Mount Pisgah’s summit, with plenty of birding opportunities and exquisite scenery along the way.
Ready to Go Hiking in Hendersonville (and its Surroundings)?
Enjoy the scenic beauty and outdoors by getting out and hiking in Hendersonville and its surroundings! This mountain town is the perfect base, surrounded by wonderful trails and ways to escape in nature.
With waterfalls in DuPont State Forest, stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and more, we think you’ve got it made if you’re ever in this area.
Are you ready to hit these trails?! If you know the area, we’d love to know about your favorite spots to go hiking in Hendersonville. Let us know in the comments section or by email!
More Things to Do in Hendersonville (Plus Related Posts)
Beyond hiking in Hendersonville, there are plenty of other things to do in the area!
Gem mining is also another fun and exciting thing to do in Henderson County. Elijah Mountain Gem Mine is the area’s best, where you can pan for rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts, and more in their outdoor or indoor water flumes.
Beyond those fun things to do, here are some additional articles that include great hiking trails near Hendersonville.