Enjoy the great outdoors of the North Carolina mountains with these paved trails, perfect for wheelchairs, strollers, scooters and those with mobility challenges. These are also great for small children and those on crutches while recovering from surgery. These walking and hiking trails are located throughout western North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains, all within an hour's drive of Asheville.
Lake Junaluska: Our top pick for accessible trails is the lakeside stroll (pic above) with views of the Great Smoky Mountains. We especially love the long bridges and many viewpoints with sitting areas along the way. Another section includes their "Rose Walk" with hundreds of fragrant blooms during the summer. It's fully paved and mostly flat with one short uphill section. The figure 8 path allows you to take a 2.3-mile or 3.8-mile walk. This Methodist conference center is open to all and free to visit. Read more about the Lake Junaluska Trail.
Cradle of Forestry: Our other top pick for paved trails with big views in our mountains is at this heritage site deep in Pisgah National Forest. This birthplace of forestry has three paved trails (3 miles total) that takes you through forests and past many historic buildings, exhibits and even a locomotive. They are open April through early November. While you are there, see fascinating exhibits about the forest and watch a documentary about Biltmore's Forestry School. It's near the roadside Looking Glass Falls. Read more about Cradle of Forestry.
Point Lookout Trail: This 3.6-mile greenway follows an old road up the ridge through Pisgah National Forest. Since it's a gradually uphill climb most of the way, it's not recommended for wheelchairs. But it's great for scooters or walking with strollers. It's mostly wooded with a few distance mountain views along the way. Read more.
South Mountains State Park: The Hemlock Nature Trail is a 3/4 of a mile wheelchair-accessible loop along the Jacob Fork River and a forest. Displays along the way tell about the area's plants and animals. There's also a picnic area and the fabulous High Shoals Falls trail if other members of your traveling group wants a more adventureous hike. Read more.
Mt. Mitchell: It's wonderful that everyone can drive to the top of the highest summit in the eastern USA. Enjoy views from the parking area or take the 1/2-mile paved trail to the observation deck at the very top. The ADA accessible trail is a gradually uphill climb, so you'll need some strong arms to help you. Also find a picnic area and museum at the top. Dress warmly since it's usually 15-20 degrees cooler there than in Asheville. Read more.
North Carolina Arboretum: Explore the gardens (including the quilt garden above) on paved paths. Don't miss the bonsai garden! Wheelchairs are available for visitors to borrow at no charge in the Education Center and the Baker Exhibit Center. Read more.
Roan Mountain: To escape the summer heat, head to this mile-high ridge famous for their natural rhododendron gardens (peak bloom in mid June). Stroll along the half-mile sidewalk trail in the Recreation Area in Pisgah National Forest, complete with picnic tables. This area is open Memorial Day Weekend through September. Take a jacket even in July! Read more.
Asheville Greenway: The French Broad River Greenway is the best in-town paved trail. It's 2.8 miles and connects several parks along the river for additional exploration. Park at Carrier Park (220 Amboy Road). Looking from Amboy Road, head left on the trail for French Broad River Park or head right for a wooded riverside hike to Hominy Creek. Read more about these parks.
Waterfalls: Also see our Top 10 Roadside Waterfalls for best places to go for easy viewing for all.