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Many families travel to the Blue Ridge Mountains for the ultimate ‘Great Outdoors’ experience. Hiking is a great way to connect as a family and see the best of the mountains, but children don’t always share the same invigoration and stamina for hiking that adults do. With thousands of miles of hiking trails near Asheville (many of which are in national forests or parks), it’s hard to know which ones are kid friendly hiking trails. Below are our favorite trails that aren’t too long or too strenuous and offer some kid friendly highlights along the way, like waterfalls, picnic areas, paved trails for strollers and more. See our hiking tips for kids below. See our Top 20 Family Vacation Ideas for more things to do.

15 Kid Friendly Trails near Asheville

Kids in Parks: Educational Trails in the Blue Ridge

Kids in Parks is a growing network of trails with free activity guides for children and families. Together, you'll engage with the outdoors by identifying trees and birds, viewing the forest from… read more

Kids in Parks is a growing network of trails with free activity guides for children and families. Together, you'll engage with the outdoors by identifying trees and birds, viewing the forest from the perspective of animals and searching for natural features. Children can record their adventures online and receive prizes.

Tom's Creek Falls

This 80-ft., two-tier waterfall is accessed via an easy hike in Pisgah National Forest (near US Highway 221) north of Marion. It's a great hike for families. One of the few waterfalls with an… read more

This 80-ft., two-tier waterfall is accessed via an easy hike in Pisgah National Forest (near US Highway 221) north of Marion. It's a great hike for families. One of the few waterfalls with an accessible trail and observation deck for those with walking challenges.

Lake Junaluska Walking Trail

(2.3 or 3.8 miles, easy) Our top accessible, paved hiking trail near Asheville, with a walk around a beautiful lake at the Conference and Retreat Center, surrounded by mountains and historic… read more

(2.3 or 3.8 miles, easy) Our top accessible, paved hiking trail near Asheville, with a walk around a beautiful lake at the Conference and Retreat Center, surrounded by mountains and historic buildings. They are open to the public and welcome everyone to walk the 2.3-mile loop with many natural sights along the way.  

NC Arboretum Hikes

(Many options, easy to moderate) Located just 10 miles south of downtown, the Arboretum has 10 miles of easy to moderate walking and biking trails. Our pick is the Natural Garden Trail, a one-mile… read more

(Many options, easy to moderate) Located just 10 miles south of downtown, the Arboretum has 10 miles of easy to moderate walking and biking trails. Our pick is the Natural Garden Trail, a one-mile loop starting from the Plants of Promise Garden to the Core Area Gardens. 

Asheville Parks & Greenway

Just a couple miles from downtown and Biltmore, find two parks along the river connected by the French Broad River Greenway: Carrier Park and French Broad River Park. Picnic, bike, hike and play… read more

Just a couple miles from downtown and Biltmore, find two parks along the river connected by the French Broad River Greenway: Carrier Park and French Broad River Park. Picnic, bike, hike and play.

Biltmore Estate Hiking Trails

(Many options, easy to moderate) There are 23 miles of trails, for all fitness levels, to explore at Biltmore. You can walk several miles around the gardens near the house, including a half-mile… read more

(Many options, easy to moderate) There are 23 miles of trails, for all fitness levels, to explore at Biltmore. You can walk several miles around the gardens near the house, including a half-mile stroll around the Bass Pond. Our favorite hike at Biltmore is the 1.3-mile Deer Park Trail, offering great views of the house.

Blue Ridge Parkway Top 15 Short Hikes

Find our favorite short hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. Also see ranger-led guided hikes held weekly in summer and fall.

Find our favorite short hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. Also see ranger-led guided hikes held weekly in summer and fall.

Flat Rock Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway

(6/10 mile, easy) Hike a loop trail to a flat rock summit with expansive views and great picnic spots. Hidden away at Milepost 308.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway - near Linville Falls. 

(6/10 mile, easy) Hike a loop trail to a flat rock summit with expansive views and great picnic spots. Hidden away at Milepost 308.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway - near Linville Falls. 

Chimney Rock Hikes for Kids

Great Woodland Adventure trail has 12 Wildlife Discovery Stations along a half mile winding hike. Meet live animals at the Discovery Den at the trailhead. Take the elevator to the Chimney top for… read more

Great Woodland Adventure trail has 12 Wildlife Discovery Stations along a half mile winding hike. Meet live animals at the Discovery Den at the trailhead. Take the elevator to the Chimney top for amazing views. The Hickory Nut Falls Trail is easy for most.

Holmes Educational State Forest

(.5-3.5 miles, easy to strenuous) Hike a variety of trails and learn about the forest in this largely unknown gem near busy DuPont State Forest. Open mid March-mid November, find a tranquil and… read more

(.5-3.5 miles, easy to strenuous) Hike a variety of trails and learn about the forest in this largely unknown gem near busy DuPont State Forest. Open mid March-mid November, find a tranquil and diverse forest along with picnic tables and exhibits. 10 miles from downtown Hendersonville.

Mt. Mitchell Balsam Trail

(3/4 mile loop, easy) Take a loop hike through the dense, aromatic fir forest high atop on the summit of Mt. Mitchell. Great place for a cool walk on a hot summer day.

(3/4 mile loop, easy) Take a loop hike through the dense, aromatic fir forest high atop on the summit of Mt. Mitchell. Great place for a cool walk on a hot summer day.

Hiking at Carl Sandburg Home

(Up to 5 miles, easy to moderate) The trail network at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in the village of Flat Rock takes you through the farm by ponds, barn with goats, historic home and… read more

(Up to 5 miles, easy to moderate) The trail network at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in the village of Flat Rock takes you through the farm by ponds, barn with goats, historic home and to the top of Glassy Mountain. Free admission.

Cataloochee Valley Hiking

There are many hiking trails in beautiful Cataloochee Valley, home to the elk. A quick favorite is the one-mile Rough Fork Trail along the cascading stream.

There are many hiking trails in beautiful Cataloochee Valley, home to the elk. A quick favorite is the one-mile Rough Fork Trail along the cascading stream.

Cradle of Forestry

(2 miles loop, easy) Walk paved, accessible trails to see restored buildings from the early 1900s and learn about how forestry began in the United States. Perfect for strollers, wheelchairs and … read more

(2 miles loop, easy) Walk paved, accessible trails to see restored buildings from the early 1900s and learn about how forestry began in the United States. Perfect for strollers, wheelchairs and scooters.

Kid Friendly Hiking Tips

  • Kids require flexibility, so it’s important to keep your expectations realistic for your child’s age. 
  • Be sure your little one wears layers, some hikes are at higher elevations- which can range in temperatures as much as 20 degrees.
  • Pack plenty of water, snacks and a backup change of clothes. 
  • Pack a small first aid kit.
  • Hike first thing in the morning when kids are well rested and have high energy levels. 
  • Make it a game! Help kids stay engaged with games like scavenger hunts, counting objects, i-spy, etc. 
  • Register your little ones with Kids in Parks so they can log hikes and earn prizes. 
  • Allow stops for a closer look at things. “What does it look, feel, sound, taste, smell like?” Encourage discovery of bugs, leaves, bark, moss, animal prints, etc.
  • Have fun! Kids take their cues from adults. If you’re having fun, they’re having fun.

See more pages from our Family Guide: Top 20 Family Vacation IdeasWaterfalls for Kids | Biltmore for Kids | Family-Friendly Hotels & Lodging | Top 20 Indoor Activities for Kids | Hands-On Learning & Children's Museums | Kids in Parks | Places for Kid's Birthday Parties | Overnight Summer Camps | Day & Half-Day Summer Camps | Kid-Friendly Restaurants | Family Date Ideas

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