Are you looking for the best Asheville hiking trails near the city? Then you’re in the right place! Whether you are planning a weekend getaway in Asheville or driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, there are some great hikes near Asheville. Asheville is a major city along the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
The Blue Ridge Mountains run from Virginia to just about the Tennessee border near Asheville. They are also part of the Appalachian Mountain Range, which runs through several Eastern US states. So there is plenty of opportunities for hiking near Asheville thanks to the mountain landscape.
Most of the Asheville hiking trails on this list are right around the Asheville city limits. But a few of them are a bit farther away. The furthest you’ll have to drive through is about an hour and that drive will still be pretty scenic. We’ve made sure to include hiking trails near Asheville at all skill levels.
That means you’ll find a selection of easy, moderate, and difficult hikes on this list. There are also Asheville waterfall hikes, Appalachian Trail sections, and peaceful garden hikes. So, let’s take a look at the 15 best Asheville hiking trails near the city!
15 Best Asheville Hiking Trails Near The City (Waterfalls + Blue Ridge!)
Asheville Botanical Gardens Trail
If you are looking for one of the best easy Asheville hikes, then head to the Asheville Botanical Gardens. The Asheville Botanical Gardens Trail is a super easy 1/2 mile loop. The path is paved and fairly even throughout the garden, so it is perfect for those who don’t want to, or can’t, hike on a rocky uneven trail. Off of the main 1/2 mile loop, you’ll find other paved sections of trail that take you to different areas of the garden before connecting back to the main loop.
As you wind through the garden you’ll be able to admire some beautiful landscapes. There is a meadow with a gazebo, native plants, and wildflowers, as well as bridges and a bird garden. One of the most popular areas of the garden is the covered bridges surrounded by lush greenery. At the bird garden, there is a viewing platform where you can admire the birds without disturbing them. It is a beautiful and easy Asheville hiking experience that is right in the heart of the city.
Black Balsam Hike on Art Loeb Trail
The Black Balsam Hike is accessed via the Art Loeb Trail. The hike encompasses a climb to the summit of Black Balsam Knob. The trailhead is south of Asheville just between Asheville and the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains. The Art Loeb Trail actually connects to several smaller trails in the Asheville area. At 1.4 miles the Black Balsam Hike is categorized as a moderate hiking trail.
This Asheville hiking trail has views that make the moderate rating absolutely worth it. You’ll walk through a dense forest of balsam fir trees, gorgeous rocky hills that are filled with wildflowers during certain times of the year, and then mountain balds. Mountain balds are essentially areas of mountains that have no trees. It is just grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs for miles. You’ll end up about 6,000 feet above sea level looking down at one of the most beautiful areas of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Catawba Falls Trail
On the Catawba Falls Trail, you’ll hike to one of the prettiest waterfalls near Asheville. The Catawba Falls trail is an Asheville hiking trail that is about half an hour outside of the city. The hike is three miles, round trip, and is categorized as moderate. While you hike to the falls you’ll hike along the Catawba River and several smaller falls. As you get closer to the main falls, you’ll find a footbridge that is a popular photo stop before getting to the falls.
Just past Catawba Falls, there is the option to extend your hike. We only recommend this option for more experienced hikers. While it is only an additional half-mile, it is extremely strenuous and almost completely uphill. If this is something that doesn’t bother you, then go ahead and continue the hike to view the Upper Catawba Falls. The Upper Falls has a 50-foot drop that is surrounded by trees and is really beautiful if you are able to make the hike.
Craggy Pinnacle Trail
The Craggy Gardens are one of the best things to do in Asheville, and you can hike there. You can find the Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 364.4-367.6. There are three hiking trails you can take, but the easy to moderate Craggy Pinnacle Trail is one of the most popular ones. The trail typically takes about 20 minutes to hike and the thing that makes it more moderate is the roots and rocks sticking up in the trail.
When you reach the end of the trail before turning back around, you’ll be greeted with 360-degree views of the valley below. As you walk along the trail you’ll hike through tunnels of rhododendron, which is one of the most notable things to see at Craggy Gardens. They bloom in late summer, but they are beautiful all year round. There are also twisted birch trees, wildflowers, heaths of blueberries, and a stunning rocky landscape. It is one of the best hikes near Asheville.
Glassy Mountain Trail
You can find the Glassy Mountain Trail at the Carl Sandburg Home, which is a National Historic Site and House Museum just outside of Asheville. It is one of the best easy Asheville hikes in the area and is also full of beautiful views. The Glassy Mountain Trailhead can be found just behind the historic home. If you would like a trail map, feel free to ask any of the park rangers for one.
The Glassy Mountain Trail is fairly easy and there are several offshoots and loops that are attached to it. You can take a loop around the serene lake, meander through dense forest, or stick to the main trail. The most difficult part of the hike is a small climb to an area with lots of trees. It’s not very steep, but that is something to keep in mind when you plan your hike. The rest of the trail passes alongside historic barns, beautiful fields, and more. It is one of the best Asheville hiking trails in the area.
Cold Mountain Summit Hike
If you are looking for a difficult hike to enjoy while you are hiking near Asheville, check out the Cold Mountain Summit Hike. Cold Mountain became more popularly known after the movie, Cold Mountain, came out in 2003. The Civil War-era drama had visitors flocking to see the peaks of the famous Cold Mountain. You can also hike to the peaks of Cold Mountain via the Summit Hiking trail.
This is definitely not a hike near Asheville for beginners. It is a 10.6-mile roundtrip hike that is known for being one of the more strenuous hikes in the area. If you plan to hike Cold Mountain’s summit, you’ll need to set aside 6-7 hours to do so. What makes the hike so difficult is the 3,000 feet of elevation you climb as you hike. It has no official trail, but there is a well-worn path that many experienced hikers use. For those looking for a challenge, this is one of the best day hikes near Asheville.
Mile High Swinging Bridge Trail
The Mile High Swinging Bridge Trail can be found at the attraction, Grandfather Mountain. It is a popular hike near Asheville that features a swinging bridge. The swinging bridge takes you across one part of the mountain peak to the other over a dense forest. Despite the swinging bridge, the Mile High Swinging Bridge Trail is actually a fairly easy hiking trail.
Inside the Grandfather Mountain attraction, you’ll find a visitor center where you can purchase a ticket for the entire attraction. That includes access to all the trails on the park, the Mile High Swinging Bridge, a petting zoo, and even a gift shop and snack bar. You can hike up to the Bridge Trail, but you can also take the elevators up to the trail. It is not very long, just .3 miles, but you’ll get to say you walked across America’s Highest Suspension Footbridge!
While you are here, check out the nearby Rough Ridge Hike And Overlook which is also on Grandfather Mountain!
Bridal Veil Falls Trail
You can access the Bridal Veil Falls Trail in the DuPont State Forest. This is one of the best easy hikes near Asheville if you want to see a beautiful waterfall. If you park at the High Falls parking area, you’ll have easy access to the trailhead. The trail itself is mostly a wide gravel trail and it is actually a popular mountain biking trail.
You’ll walk for about 4.4 miles in total and there are very few if any inclines on the path. As you walk down the trail you’ll see other trailheads that branch off from the main Bridal Veil Falls Trail. Most of them are also pretty easy, they just add more walking time to your trip. If you want to hike the full 7 miles, you can also see the High Falls and Triple Falls.
Hard Times Loop Trail
The Hard Times Loop Trail is just a short 15-minute drive away from downtown Asheville. It passes through Bent Creek Experimental Forest and the North Carolina Arboretum. You can find the trailhead on Hard Times Road, one of the old forest service roads. The trail is an easy hike with little to no elevation gain. You’ll mostly just be wandering through the dense and beautiful Pisgah National Forest.
To hike the Hard Times Loop Trail, give yourself plenty of time. It is about 6 miles long and can take anywhere from 2-3 hours to walk if you aren’t rushing through. Make sure you pay attention to your surroundings because at one point you’ll be able to see a glimpse of the Asheville skyline and even the Biltmore Estate. It is easily one of the best Asheville hiking trails.
Hooker Falls Trail
The Hooker Falls Trail is in the DuPont State Forest and is one of the easiest Asheville waterfall hikes. The Hooker Falls Trail is part of a larger trail system in DuPont State Forest. It includes the Bridal Veil Falls Trail, which we previously mentioned on this list. From the parking lot, you’ll only hike .25 miles before you reach the falls. There is little to no elevation gain, just gorgeous views. When you reach the end of the short trail, you’ll see Hooker Falls.
Hooker Falls is one of the prettiest waterfalls near Asheville and is very accessible. At the bottom of the falls is a large swimming pool that you can enjoy during the warmer months. Because of its ease of accessibility and super cool swimming pool, it is a popular attraction in the summer. So keep that in mind when you are planning your hike. There is also an observation deck you can stand on to view the falls.
Max Patch Trail
In the Pisgah National Forest, you can find the trailhead for the Max Patch Trail. The Max Patch Trail is ranked as a moderate hike, so it might not be the best option for beginners. However, what makes the trail moderate is the elevation gain, so if you think you can handle that, we absolutely suggest hiking the Max Patch Trail.
The entire trail is 1.5 miles round trip. As you hike you’ll see some beautiful Appalachian landscapes. Depending on when you visit, you’ll see miles of wildflower fields, berry patches, and rolling valleys. The Max Patch Trail is one of the most iconic hiking trails near Asheville. No matter when you hike it, you can expect beautiful views.
Chestoa View Overlook Trail
The Chestoa View Overlook Trail is an easy trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is actually a short trail that leads you to one of the best overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. At Milepost 320.8 you’ll find a parking area for the Chestoa View Overlook. From the parking area, you’ll find a small sign that points to the trailhead. You’ll only walk a quarter of a mile, but there are some steep steps, so keep that in mind.
At the end of the trail, you’ll walk down steps to the actual Chestoa Overlook. It is a paved and rock-walled viewing area that offers an absolutely stunning view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You’ll be able to look down into Linville Gorge Wilderness Area and parts of the Pisgah National Forest. If you are looking for a short and simple hike that packs the most impact in terms of views, then this is one of the best hikes near Asheville for that.
Moore Cove Falls Trail
The Moore Cove Falls Trail leads you to one of the only Asheville waterfall hikes where you can actually hike behind the waterfall. You can access the trail via a parking area about a mile north of the Looking Glass Falls on US 276. It is part of the Pisgah National Forest. The parking area is not super obvious, so make sure you are keeping an eye out for it. When you park, you’ll find informational boards that tell you about the trail. That’s how you’ll know you’re in the right place.
The hike itself is fairly easy. There is little to no elevation gain and the trail itself is nicely maintained. You won’t spend a lot of time tripping over rocks or roots. Because of this, it is one of the most popular Asheville hiking trails for families. It is about 1.5 miles round trip and at the end of the trail, you’ll get to walk right up to the Moore Cove Falls. You can even walk behind the falls themselves if you want.
Roan Mountain Hike
The Roan Mountain Hike is part of the Appalachian Trail on Roan Mountain. It is rated as easy to moderate, so it might not be great for beginners unless you are up for a bit of a challenge. If you are up for a challenge, you will be greatly rewarded with some stunning views along your hike. You can access the trail via the parking area at Carver’s Gap.
The trail itself is about 5 miles roundtrip and typically takes 3-4 hours to hike. There is some slight elevation gain, but it is gradual and there isn’t a lot happening at one time. As you hike you’ll see beautiful fields of wildflowers, mountain balds, and wild berry bushes. You’ll also get to see beautiful views of the rolling mountains and valleys that surround Roan Mountain.
Beacon Heights Trail
The Beacon Heights Trail is a short but moderately difficult Asheville hiking trail. It is just under a mile round trip, but it is extremely popular. Because it is short and not too difficult, you’ll find that during the peak travel seasons, the Beacon Heights Trail can get pretty crowded.
Because it is near Grandfather Mountain, you’ll get some beautiful views of the valley and mountains near Grandfather Mountain. On the horizon, you can see Mount Mitchell and Table Rock Mountain. At the end of the trail, you’ll find two large rock overlooks that people often use to sit and admire the view. It is a great hiking trail near Asheville to admire some beautiful panoramic views.
There are so many beautiful Asheville hiking trails for you to explore and enjoy. Whether you are looking for quick and easy hikes that still have stunning views or difficult day hikes that challenge your sense of adventure, there is a perfect option for your next hiking near Asheville trip.