Asheville has garnered accolades for lots of things: Craft beer and food festivals. Conservation of natural resources. And for the health and wellness of its citizens. Why are Asheville residents so fit, you ask? Perhaps it’s easy access to some of the best outdoor experiences in the country. With thousands of miles of gorgeous trails crisscrossing the Blue Ridge Mountains and a vast network of streams and waterfalls, the Asheville area is a dream destination for hikers.

Best of all, Asheville offers plenty of hiking trails for everyone at every fitness level. Take a family-friendly hike with the kids or enjoy a multi-day backpacking adventure. It’s up to you.

We’ve picked some of our favorite Asheville area hiking trails and have categorized them so you know what to expect before you head out. There really is a perfect trail for everyone.

Covered Bridge in the Botanical Gardens  at Asheville

Covered Bridge in the Botanical Gardens at Asheville

Botanical Gardens at Asheville

Located just under 2 miles miles north of downtown Asheville, the Botanical Gardens at Asheville is home to a shady half-mile loop. As you meander along, be sure to check out as many of the 600+ species native plants as possible. The garden is also home to over 50 species of plants that are rare, uncommon, or endangered, so please stay on the marked trail.

The best time to visit is April to about mid-May during peak wildflower blooming season–a real delight! However, rest assured that the gardens are beautiful all year long.

Explore the Visitors Center then stroll out to the trail. Head left to the birdwatching platform or pick the path that leads to the beautiful bridges. Head to the right and you’ll descend a bit (perfect for strollers and wheelchairs) and cross the bridge. You can then ascend a bit towards the Peyton Rock Outcrop or go left and enjoy the rest of the level trail.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance from Downtown Asheville: 1.5 miles
Length: 0.5-mile loop
Elevation Gain: 30 ft.
Pet-Friendly: No
Facilities & Parking: Paved and gravel parking lot, Visitor Center has gift shop, water fountain, bathroom
Highlights: Native plants, stream, scenic bridges

Bass Pond at Biltmore Estate

Bass Pond at Biltmore Estate

If you’re staying at any of the Biltmore Estate Properties (which we highly recommend), be sure to stroll at least a portion of the stunning trails that meander through and around the property. No matter which trail you choose, you’ll enjoy views such as agricultural fields, the French Broad River, and a plethora of native trees and blossoms.

Once at Biltmore, start off from the estate house, the Biltmore Lagoon, Bass Pond, the Inn, or Antler Village. There are a number of trail options, so we recommend picking up a trail map from Antler Hill Village & Winery. You can also access a Biltmore Trail map here.

Highlights include the very leisurely Westover Trails for views of Biltmore’s woodland beauty. Or try Deer Park Trail with access to the estate gardens and Bass Pond. Or the longer Farm Trail which runs along the French Broad River.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Distance from Downtown Asheville: 2 miles
Length: 1.7- 6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 233 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Yes- Leashed dogs
Facilities & Parking: Parking lot, bathrooms at Antler Hill Village or Biltmore Properties
Highlights: Mountain views, woodlands, landscaped gardens, French Broad River, farm fields (grapes), abundant native plants and animals, birdwatching

Hooker Falls

Hooker Falls

Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls Hike

About an hour south of Asheville you’ll find the Dupont State Forest, also known as The Land of the Waterfalls. The scenery is so magnificent here it’s been featured in some big-time Hollywood blockbusters, so you know the trails are worth your time. This hike is a fun and relative easy way to enjoy 3 waterfalls in one area, for triple the fun!

Start at the Hooker Falls parking lot and about ¼ mile from the trailhead is Hooker Falls. With a 12-foot drop it’s not the most breathtaking waterfall, but it’s still lovely.

Hooker Falls

Hooker Falls

From there, turn back the way you came and cross the pedestrian bridge. Follow the trail along the Little River to the to the base of Triple Falls and enjoy the overlook. Or, continue on to the steps leading out to the rocky area of the falls and enjoy the view. Have déjà vu? If so, it may be because the falls appeared in The Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans.

High Falls

High Falls

From this point, continue ascending the trail and veer left towards High Falls. There’s also an overlook, picnic area, and a scenic covered bridge, all relatively close together. If you’ve packed a lunch, it’s a great way to enjoy the view and relax before returning.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Distance from Downtown Asheville: ~40 miles (50-60 minutes)
Length: Hooker Falls – 0.4 miles each way
    Triple Falls – 0.5 mile from Hooker Falls parking lot
    High Falls – 0.5 mile from Triple Falls
Elevation Gain: ~160 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Yes- Leashed dogs
Facilities & Parking: parking lot, Porta Potty
Highlights: Waterfalls, wooded trails, bird watching

High Falls

Black Balsam Trail bald

Black Balsam Knob on the Art Loeb Trail

This is the quintessential Blue Ridge Parkway hike and a definite Asheville must-do for outdoor lovers. The 360-degree views from the Black Balsam bald are some of the best Blue Ridge Parkway views you’ll find.

Located a little over an hour Northeast of Asheville, Black Balsam is perfect for a day trip, overnight camping, or even for energetic young kids. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an overnight stay, be sure to prepare, as the temperatures on the mountain can be up to 20 degrees cooler than in downtown Asheville. And because it’s an open hilltop, pack the sunscreen and windbreakers, too. As an added bonus, if you’re there in blueberry season (mid to late August), you’ll have plenty of juicy berries to pick along the trail.

From the parking lot of the Art Loeb Trail, head through the wooded trail over some rocky terrain. Soon you’ll be in an open meadow with stellar views. After taking it all in, ascend a bit to the top of Black Balsam Knob. By now, you’ll have gone about a mile and can turn around OR (recommended) advance another 1.5 miles along the Art Loeb Trail to Tennent Mountain, another bald with great views. Then, continue along the Ivestor Gap Trail, which loops back to Black Balsam Knob Road for a total of 5 miles.

Ivestor Gap Trail

Ivestor Gap Trail

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Distance from Downtown Asheville: ~38 miles (65 minutes)
Length: 2 miles round trip to Black Balsam. Optional longer hike or loop.
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Yes- leashed dogs
Facilities & Parking: Marked parking on shoulder of Black Balsam Knob Road. Bathrooms and larger parking area near the end of Black Balsam Knob Road near Sam Knob trailhead.
Highlights: 360-degree views of Blue Ridge Mountains, mountaintop meadows, spring wildflowers, blueberries, great for tent camping.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail

Craggy Pinnacle Trail

Craggy Pinnacle Trail

In this case, the trail name tells the story: Craggy and dramatic rock formations. Glorious 360-degree views from the pinnacle. The scenery here will knock your socks (Band-Aids and all) off.

Located about 20 miles northwest of Asheville, Craggy Pinnacle is one of the best hikes near Asheville with great views. A steep drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway takes you to Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, where you can enjoy the views and the summer rhododendron. From there, head to the Craggy Dome parking lot at Milepost 364.1 and the trailhead will be on the left. There are stone steps up to Craggy Pinnacle, and they’re steep. But the views at the top are so totally worth the climb. You’ll see the Blue Ridge Parkway, seemingly endless mountains and a view into Tennessee, and even Asheville’s water reservoir.

The elevation is high here, so dress warmly and prepare for sun and wind. And, as always, stay on marked trails to avoid harming the area’s fragile and endangered plants.

Difficulty: Moderate (steep climb)
Distance from Downtown Asheville: ~20 miles (40 minutes)
Length: 0.6 mile each way. 1.2 miles total
Elevation Gain: 250 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Yes- leashed dogs
Facilities & Parking: Parking lot. Restrooms at Craggy Gardens Visitor Center
Highlights: Sunset and sunrise views, rhododendron blooms in June, mountain laurel blooms in Spring, bright fall foliage

Max Patch Trail

Max Patch Trail

Head about 48 miles northwest of Asheville to the Pisgah National Forest and you’ll find one of North Carolina’s most popular Appalachian Trail hikes–the Max Patch Trail.

The Max Patch bald was cleared for pasture in the 1800’s. Today, it’s a 350-acre tract of land on a mountaintop with 360-degree views. In fact, many people say it’s one of their favorite Blue Ridge Mountain views. You’ll really feel on top of the world here.

There are two ways to get to the top of Max Patch from the parking lot. First is the direct 1.4 mile hike to the top. It’s a gentle ascent along a narrow dirt path. Even the young kids can do it. Option two is the 2.4-mile loop that winds through some woods and can get a bit rocky. On the plus side, you get a reprieve from the gusty winds that lash the bald. On this route you’ll see the Appalachian Trail crossing this loop and continuing across the bald.

Once at the top, relax and take in the views of Mount Mitchell to the east and the Great Smoky Mountains to the west. Afterwards, enjoy a picnic, fly a kite or frisbee, or do some yoga that’ll look great on Instagram.

Camping is permitted along the loop trail, but not at the summit. Also, it’s ultra-windy here, so prepare accordingly. And heads up (or down), as lightning is a real danger on the open summit, so avoid this area if there’s a storm chance.

Difficulty: Barely Moderate (But influenced by weather)
Distance from Downtown Asheville: ~48 miles (70-75 minutes)
Length: 1.4 or 2.4 mile RT, each trail
Elevation Gain: ~430 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Yes- leashed dogs
Facilities & Parking: Gravel lot, no restrooms
Highlights: 360-degree views; sunset and sunrise views; seasonally abundant blueberries, blackberries, and wildflowers

View of Grandfather Mountain from MacRea Peak

View of Grandfather Mountain from MacRea Peak

Grandfather Mountain Trail

Located about an hour and a half from Asheville, this trail really is the grandaddy of hikes. It’s been called one of the most technical hikes—without equipment—east of the Mississippi. The pace is often slow; expect chutes where you progress hand-over-hand. There are also several spots where you must use the provided ladders and cables. If you’d prefer to skip the ladders to MacRae Peak, choose the slightly more sheltered Underwood Trail.

The trail climbs to Grandfather Mountain’s three peaks: MacRae Peak, Attic Window Peak, and Calloway Peak at 5,964’. This is also where the Profile Trail ends. All three peaks are within 1.5 miles of each other, but you can turn back at any point, as it’s an in-and-out trail. If you decide to do the hike in a day, make sure you check the parking lot closing times. They vary seasonally. There are a few primitive campsites if you’d rather say a night or two. Be sure to get a permit at the Visitor Center.

From the parking lot, you can either start off on the Grandfather Trail extension or take the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Taking the bridge adds 0.3 mi., but it’s worth seeing.

Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain

Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain

It’s a difficult hike and not for the inexperienced, but there’s great variety along the trail. Expect forest, exposed cliffs, craggy outcroppings, and chutes and ladders leading to phenomenal views.

Difficulty: Strenuous
Distance from Downtown Asheville: ~70 miles (90 minutes)
Length: 2.4 miles each way to Calloway Peak
Elevation Gain: 800 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Yes- leashed dogs
Facilities & Parking: Parking lot. Bathroom at Visitor Center. Also restaurant, fudge shop, wildlife viewing areas, Mile High Swinging Bridge
Highlights: Panoramic Views, rock walls, spring rhododendron

Devil’s Courthouse Overlook

Devil’s Courthouse Overlook

Devil’s Courthouse Hike

A little over an hour southwest of Asheville you’ll find the Devil. Specifically, at milepost 422.4 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Well, maybe you won’t find THE Devil, but just his courthouse. Legend has it Old Scratch holds court in the cave underneath the rock.

Thankfully, there’s nothing devilish about the views. As soon as you park, check out the impressive rock outcropping looming above. Along the way up, you’ll enjoy a shady and mossy forest of sweet-smelling balsam fir. There are also many rare high-altitude plants.

The hike up to the summit is mostly paved and pretty short, but don’t be fooled. The climb up is steep and unrelenting (no flat or level breaks). You’ll notice a spur trail on the left that links to the Mountains to Sea Trail. Keep climbing up, though, and soon you’ll reach the overlook. Do not go beyond the rock wall formation of the overlook, as this is a sensitive area and home to peregrine falcons.

The burning thighs and butt are worth it, because the views from the summit are pretty incredible. Sweeping panoramas stretch in all directions, offering views of nearby peaks in the Pisgah National Forest. You’ll also see into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. There are plaques at the summit so you’ll know exactly what you’re seeing.

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Distance from Downtown Asheville: ~35 miles (65-70 minutes)
Length: 1 mile round trip
Elevation Gain: 272 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Yes- leashed dogs
Facilities & Parking: Parking lot off Blue Ridge Parkway. No restrooms.
Highlights: Perfect sunsets, Long-range views, woodlands, rock outcroppings, wildflowers, peregrine falcons

View of Hot Springs, NC from Lover’s Leap on Appalachian Trail

View of Hot Springs, NC from Lover’s Leap on the Appalachian Trail

Lover’s Leap Loop Trail

If you’re staying in Asheville and are looking for the perfect day trip, head northwest to the tiny town of Hot Springs (pop. ~560). Lover’s Leap trail is part of the famed Appalachian Trail and leads you to a group of rocky outcroppings where the views are postcard and Instagram perfect.

The hike departs from downtown Hot Springs and there’s free public parking for hikers along Andrews Avenue. (Pro Tip: Forgot something? Head to Bluff Mountain Outfitters on Bridge St. for any last minute essentials.) Follow the AT’s white blazes over a bridge crossing the French Broad River and you’ll see the towering Lover’s Leap summit straight ahead.

Keep following the AT and you’ll reach Surprise Falls, then follow the river for a bit, past the camping areas. Then you’ll ascend a well-marked trail and encounter a few switchbacks, which make the climb easier.

Along the ridge, there are lovely views of the sights below. The second outcropping along the ridge is Lover’s Leap. Craggy rocks aside, this is the perfect spot to sit and take in the view. After you’ve refreshed, continue up to the last outcropping. Right after it, take a left from the AT to remain on the Lover’s Leap trail to Silver Mine. Walk the back side of the ridge to the Silver Mine parking area. Head left to return to the bridge and your starting point.

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Distance from Downtown Asheville: ~36 miles (45 minutes)
Length: 1.6-mile loop
Elevation Gain: 500 ft.
Pet-Friendly: Yes- leashed dogs
Facilities & Parking: Free public parking. No restrooms.
Highlights: Hardwood forest, high cliffs, panoramic views of the French Broad River and the town of Hot Springs, NC

We hope you’ve enjoyed some of our favorite hikes near Asheville. Of course, with a myriad of trails, this list is in no way a comprehensive list. But if your Asheville vacation includes a hike, we hope this’ll get you started. See you on the trail!