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Asheville’s Top 10 HIKES

Asheville’s Top 10 HIKES:

My completely biased opinions of the best hikes around Asheville.

  1. Graveyard Fields

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.

  1. Sam Knob

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!

  1. Black Balsam

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!

  1. Buck Spring Trail

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.

  1. Laurel River Trail

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.

  1. Max Patch

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.

  1. 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.

Asheville’s Top 10 HIKES

  1. 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.

  1. The Pink Beds

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

  1. Cradle of Forestry

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.

Asheville’s Top 10 Neighborhoods: Favorite Asheville Neighborhoods

Asheville’s Top 10 Neighborhoods:

My completely biased analysis of Asheville neighborhoods based on where I have or would want to live.

  1. Biltmore Lake

I love Biltmore Lake and when we could make it happen, Jimmy and I moved there four years ago.  For me, it was about the beautiful setting around little Enka Lake and the six miles of walking trails throughout the neighborhood. Bonus: Biltmore Lake abuts National Forest, so you can hike for days!  Located in Candler, about 15 – 20 min drive west of downtown Asheville. While on the edge of the city limits, this is definitely one of Asheville’s Top 10 Naeighborhoods.

  1. North Asheville

I lived in three different locations in North Asheville (technically, the area north of I240). I will always love this historic part of town.  Close to everything, but with established neighborhoods with lots of different types of homes.  Great areas to walk around Beaver Lake or wandering around the side streets. North Asheville includes the areas of Lakeview Park, Grove Park, the UNCA area as well as more generally “north Asheville.”

  1. West Asheville

I admit some bias in these first three neighborhoods, because I have lived in each of them. West Asheville is technically everything west of downtown in the city of Asheville. However, many people mean more specifically the Haywood Rd corridor, which is what I am referencing here.  We enjoyed our years in funky, hip West Asheville.  We could walk to a number of good restaurants, and we were a quick shot back into town. Once its own town, imaginatively called West Asheville, this is a unique part of Asheville that is like a town within a town due to having a “main street” – Haywood Rd – that gives it cohesion and the cool vibe of restaurants, stores, and businesses.

  1. Biltmore Park

Want to live, play, shop in one place? Biltmore Park is a planned urban community with extensive housing ranging from apartments and condos to million plus homes connected to a “town center.”  The commercial area is a vibrant district of shops, restaurants, a movie theater and more, with a nice mix of locally owned business and franchises such as REI, Barnes and Noble, Ann Taylor, etc.  Great south Asheville location near schools, the airport, and interstate access.

  1. Montford

Adjacent to downtown, this is Asheville’s premier historic neighborhood, with part of it being a designated Historic District.  With most of the homes built in Asheville’s original boom, between 1900 and 1929, there is still a variety of styles and sizes. A great neighborhood to stroll around or to walk to downtown, Montford is unique and absolutely one of Asheville’s Top 10 Neighborhoods.

  1. Eastmoor

A relatively small neighborhood nestled alongside the Swannanoa River in a mountain cove, I love Eastmoor for its tranquility and natural setting.  Some lots back up to Warren Wilson College hiking trails, too!

  1. Haw Creek

Do you know what a cove is?  Just like in the water, a mountain cove is open on one end and surrounded by mountains.  As you travel east from downtown Asheville, there are three coves: Chunns Cove, Haw Creek, and Riceville.  The Blue Ridge Parkway loops by all of them up above, and each is a beautiful area with a more rural feel but still close to Asheville proper.  Haw Creek is an area of diverse homes in a super location.

  1. Laurel Creek

Super location off Hwy 74A southeast of town, Laurel Creek is a beautiful wooded neighborhood with a mix of single-family homes, condos, and townhomes.  It has some amenities like pool, clubhouse, and tennis courts, and it is a peaceful setting that is still a super easy hop back to downtown.

  1. Beaverdam Run

This one is a little different in that it is a condo community.  It is nestled near the end of Beaverdam Rd in north Asheville, so it is a pretty easy drive to all the conveniences north and to downtown.  What I love about it is the amazing landscaping throughout, and it has some great amenities such as indoor heated pool, clubhouse, rec room, pickleball and tennis, etc. The HOA fees are daunting, but they cover a lot, and it is a beautiful community.  Some of the homes have stunning views of the Beaverdam Valley, and the homes are quite varied in size and price. This is one of Asheville’s Top 10 Neighborhoods, especially for retirees looking for low-maintenance living and community activities.

  1. Ballantree

Just of Sweeten Creek Rd in South Asheville, Ballantree is an established neighborhood of mostly 1970s/80 homes.  Big yards, nostalgic homes, and a convenient location.

Also check the neighborhood map on my home page: www.AtHomeInAsheville.com