25 Best Hikes in North Carolina
North Carolina is home to some of the tallest mountains east of the Mississippi and while they may be half the size of some of the peaks out west, they’re just as much fun to hike. What North Carolina lacks in massive, rocky peaks it more than makes up for in rolling hills, waterfalls, and unbeatable sunsets. If you haven’t already, it’s time you added North Carolina to your adventure bucket list. Check out some of our favorite hikes across the state and get ready to hit the trail!
1. Catch a Sunset on Green Knob
9.08-mile out-and-back with roughly 1368 feet of elevation gain
Soak in views of the Middle Prong Wilderness and Mount Hardy on this beautiful section of the Mountain to Sea Trail. This adventure features forests, babbling brooks, waterfalls, and wide open meadows.
2. Hike Deep Gap Trail at Mt. Mitchell State Park
8.24-mile out-and-back with approximately 2310 feet of elevation gain
This adventure guarantees spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and some of the tallest peaks in the Appalachian Range. Wear layers and sturdy hiking boots should you choose to climb to several different summits– they can be both windy and colder at the top.
3. Summit Calloway Peak in Grandfather Mountain SP
6.31-mile out-and-back with approximately 1991 feet of elevation gain
Challenge yourself to summit one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains! It’s no surprise that the view at the top makes it all worth it. Day permits are required for this hike.
4. Hike to Clingman’s Dome
1.23-mile out-and-back with roughly 330 feet of elevation gain
Challenge yourself to hike to the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains and be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the Smokies. And not only is the hike itself beautiful, but the drive to the trail is along a route of scenic vistas– ridges and valleys galore!
5. Hike the Art Loeb Trail
30.07-mile point-to-point with approximately 7457 feet of elevation gain
On this scenic adventure, summit the iconic Cold Mountain and climb Shining Rock Mountain’s beautiful quartz towers.
6. Hike Looking Glass Rock
5.43-mile out-and-back with about 1572 feet of elevation gain
This adventure will reward you with supreme views of the Appalachian Mountains in all seasons. Along the way, expect to see pretty wildflower fields and a cascading creek. Looking Glass Rock is also a popular spot for world class climbing.
7. Hike the Sam Knob Loop
3.84-mile loop with about 807 feet of elevation gain
This adventure in the Pisgah Ranger District features waterfalls, swimming holes, and great fishing opportunities for brook trout. With two summits facing both east and west, plan a trip to watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset from up top!
8. Hike the Craggy Pinnacle Trail
1.03-mile out-and-back with approximately 285 feet of elevation gain
This adventure is only about 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. Escape the city for some time in the mountains where you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding terrain.
9. Hike to Linville Falls
0.98-mile out-and-back with roughly 177 feet of elevation gain
For minimal effort, this is an awesome opportunity to view an impressive waterfall among a beautiful forest landscape. Easily accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is the perfect quick retreat into nature without all the time and strain of a more extensive hike.
10. Hike to Paradise Falls
1.5-mile out-and-back with roughly 220 feet of elevation gain
This spot is a hidden treasure deep within a narrow ravine below Wolf Creek Lake. Though it’s pretty under the radar, especially since it’s not the easiest to find, it’s a stunning oasis that features a swimming hole and cliff jumping opportunities. It makes for the perfect afternoon in what might feel like your own personal paradise.
11. Hike to Grassy Ridge Bald in the Roan Highlands
4.84-mile out-and-back with about 932 feet of elevation gain
Experience rocky, forest, and hilly terrain on this adventure while soaking in views of rolling hills that seem like they extend forever. Wear sturdy hiking boots to more comfortably and safely trek through the rocky areas.
12. Hike to Catawba Falls
2.19-mile out-and-back with approximately 394 feet of elevation gain
Get going on this adventure to an impressive 100-foot waterfall near Asheville. If you want to extend your stay, check the availability at the Catawba Falls Campground. After getting your steps in, crack open a cold one at the nearby Pisgah Brewing Co.
13. Hike to the Summit of Shortoff Mountain
4.64-mile out-and-back with about 1178 feet of elevation gain
This hike features gorgeous views of the Linville Gorge and surrounding peaks. It’s also a rock climber’s dream as it has some of the largest walls in the south. Plan to reach the summit at sunset for a breathtaking display.
14. Hike to Lower Cascade Falls
0.75-mile out-and-back with approximately 105 feet of elevation gain
Enjoy the day exploring Hanging Rock State Park’s beautiful 35-foot waterfall. The trail winds through both pine and hardwood forests, but also features steps made of wood and stone. Bring a bathing suit to hop in the swimming hole at the bottom of the falls during the warmer months.
15. Hike Rough Ridge
0.5-mile out-and-back with roughly 92 feet of elevation gain
Though a quick little hike, this adventure boasts stunning views of the valley. It’s a family and dog friendly trail and is ideal for watching the sunrise or sunset.
16. Hike Charlie’s Bunion
4.32-mile out-and-back with approximately 1640 feet of elevation gain
Charlies Bunion is a beautiful rock outcropping amidst the Smoky Mountains. The views are marvelous and there’s also an opportunity to hop on the Appalachian Trail.
17. Hike Andrews Bald
3.55-mile out-and-back with about 1200 feet of elevation gain
This adventure features wide open grassy fields, incredible views of the southern Smokies, and Fontana Lake. This is a rather popular trail, so it would be best to set foot early to avoid large crowds.
18. Hike to Rainbow Falls in Gorges SP
3.91-mile out-and-back with roughly 778 feet of elevation gain
This is a beautiful waterfall adventure along a river in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Aside from Rainbow and Turtleback Falls, there are other trails and waterfalls to explore so keep a lookout.
19. Hike to the Wesser Bald Fire Tower
2.36-mile out-and-back with about 807 feet of elevation gain
This adventure leads you to a 30-foot fire tower. At the top, you’ll get to take in the beauty of 360 degree unobstructed views of the Nantahala National Forest, Fontana Lake, and the Little Tennessee River Valley. This is an incredible spot for night photography– it’s the perfect place for capturing stars against the dark night sky.
20. Hike to Janes Bald
2.64-mile out-and-back with about 581 feet of elevation gain
Hike along the Appalachian Trail and traverse across grassy balds. The views are fantastic and the journey features grasslands, pine forests, and stunning rhododendrons.
21. Hike to Pinnacle in Pinnacle Park
5.98-mile out-and-back with roughly 2142 feet of elevation gain
Breathe in the fresh air and reward yourself with incredible vistas at the highest point in Pinnacle Park! The mountainous/hilly terrain seems like it goes on forever at the top.
22. Hike to Huckleberry Knob
1.77-mile out-and-back with about 295 feet of elevation gain.
This adventure is located on the Scenic Cherohala Skyway. It crosses two beautiful balds and offers panoramic views of the surrounding Cerokee and Nantahala National Forests. Bring a jacket for when you get to the top as it can be a few degrees cooler.
23. Hike to Hemphill Bald
16.12-mile out-and-back with approximately 3481 feet of elevation gain
This extensive trail features beautiful wildflowers and sweeping views along the way. It can be accessed year-round and is a great spot for hikers and backpackers alike. It’s sure to make you break a sweat!
24. Hike to Black Balsam Knob via Art Loeb Trail
1.56-mile out-and-back with about 305 feet of elevation gain
This is a gorgeous adventure through meadows featuring fantastic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Note that there isn’t much tree coverage so you’ll be exposed to the elements. Wear sunscreen and check the weather! Bring a blanket and some food for an idyllic picnic.
25. Day Hike Tennent Mountain
3-mile out-and-back with roughly 285 feet of elevation gain
This is a great hike to do if you want to catch the sunrise! Afterwards, head over to the nearby Pisgah Inn to treat yourself to a delicious breakfast post hike. There’s nothing better than feasting after your morning activity!