Asheville’s Top 10 HIKES:
My completely biased opinions of the best hikes around Asheville.
This one is popular for a reason. It is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville at mile marker 418. You feel like you are on top of the world yet in a valley. There are waterfalls and creeks, and in season, blueberries. This is a super hike for the whole family, with no strenuous or even moderate areas and lots of water to play in. Because of all this, it is busy all the time. Go early in the morning during the week to avoid crowds. But Graveyard Fields is definitely one of Asheville’s Top 10 Hikes.
Just past Graveyard Fields going south from Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find two more superior hikes from the same parking area at the end of the Black Balsam Knob Road at mile marker 420. This one also gets very crowded, so get there early or late. The easy to moderate Sam Knob Trail takes you to the top of a rock outcropping at 6000 feet elevation. A bit of climb toward the end, and watch out for rattlesnakes, but it is worth it!
Leaving from the same parking area as Sam Knob, the easy Black Balsam trail will take you to the top of a ridge with vistas all around. You are roughly up above the Graveyard Fields Trail. There isn’t shade, so be prepared for that and as always, take water with you.
These three trails are very close together and within 45 minutes drive from Asheville along the magnificent Blue Ridge Parkway. You may consider camping in the area or staying at the nearby Pisgah Inn, a rare lodging option right on the BRP!
This one leave right from the parking lot at the Pisgah Inn, so add it to your list while you are in that area. Best to have two cars through. You can park one at the other end of this 6.2 mile meandering trail on US 276 about three miles south of the BRP. Leaving from the Pisgah Inn, there are some steep switchbacks. But then the trail is a glorious walk through the woods and is very gradually downhill. I would not want to walk it back from the end, though.
Absolutely one of Asheville’s top ten hikes. The Laurel River is northwest of Asheville, near the town of Hot Springs. This trail is a lovely walk along a beautiful river. It terminates where the Laurel intersects the French Broad. Distance out and back is about 7 miles however, you can go as far as you want and turn around any time. It is an easy walk with some rough spots on the trail.
Max Patch is a bit of a drive, but it is worth it! This magnificent bald on the NC/TN border is spectacular. There is an easy loop hike or you can hike part of the Appalachian Trail.
- Hawksbill Rock Trail
North of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this one forks off the MTS Trail just below the Craggy Gardens picnic area. It is a moderate rolling walk through lush forest. It goes past Hawksbill Rock, but that is my turn-around point. The views from the rock are peaceful and beautiful. There is a short scramble to get up the trail to the rock.
- Bent Creek/NC Arboretum
Bent Creek is an experimental forest adjacent to the NC Arboretum. This is the closest area to Asheville with miles of hiking and mountain biking. Located less than 20 minutes from downtown, this is a super popular area for locals and visitors. Bent Creek is the only place on this list actually in Asheville. So Asheville’s top 10 hikes are all really right in Bent Creek.
The Pink Beds is a great place to take the kids because here is a huge flat picnic area and an easy trail. There are two distance options on the loop trail. The highlight of the trail is the wetlands, created by beavers about 25 years ago. But the entire trail is just a lovely walk through the woods. It is on US 276 North of Brevard or South from the Blue Ridge Parkway
There is a short interpretive trail here, but it isn’t really a hike. It is a must-visit and wonderful with kids. You will learn so much about the history of the mountains, forestry, and life in Western North Carolina.