Amazingly, there are 3,000+ miles of free, public hiking trails near Asheville, including 1,600 miles in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, 850 miles in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and many more along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in state parks and forests. Where to begin? (Pic above is Hawksbill Mountain.)
Here are our favorite hikes near Asheville in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. We feature hikes for all skill levels. When selecting hikes and walks, we use the following criteria:
- The hike trailhead is easy to find.
- The trail is safe, marked, and maintained.
- Does not require any special equipment, technical skills or shoes.
Note: Many of our picks are along the Blue Ridge Parkway (also see our Blue Ridge Parkway Top 10 Quick Hikes). This makes for great convenience except in the winter months when the parkway is closed in the higher elevations.
You can also narrow your search by region:
- East (Black Mountain , Chimney Rock, Morganton)
- North (Burnsville, Hot Springs, Madison City, Mt Mitchell)
- South (Brevard, Hendersonville, Saluda, Tryon)
- West (Bryson City, Cherokee, Highlands, Sylva, Waynesville)
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (includes more options for West)
- Blue Ridge Parkway (includes more options for North and West)
ADA Hiking Trails
Several area trails are designated as accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). One is a 1/4-mile trail at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also, Mt. Mitchell has a ADA 1/4-mile paved trail from the parking area to the observation tower, although it's uphill.
Western North Carolina Mountains Hiking Tips
- Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Do research ahead and print instructions on hikes (since cell reception in the mountains is limited.)
- Go early to avoid crowds and heat.
- Take extra clothes and rain gear, in case of a quick weather change. Higher elevation hikes can be 15-20 degrees cooler than the city. Wear layers and good hiking shoes.
- Stay on marked trails. Do not disturb any wildlife or plantlife.
- Take plenty of drinking water. Although it may be tempting, don't drink from the streams.
- Take a cell phone in case of emergency. Coverage is surprising good on some mountaintops, although it is very spotty in valleys.
- Take hiking maps and snacks, especially if you are going on a longer trail.
- If you have an emergency along the Parkway, call 1-800-ParkWatch. Otherwise, call 911.
- Trail lengths can be misleading if the trail has a big elevation gain. We do have the highest mountains in the eastern USA.
- Dogs are allowed on most hiking trails (on a leash), except in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. See Pet Friendly Asheville.
- Follow principles of Leave No Trace.
- Support protection groups like Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy