7 Best Hiking Trails In North Carolina

By Shraddhanvita Tiwari on Dec 11, 2017
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Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina

Image Source: Pexels.com

“Do not follow where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Hiking up the mountainous landscapes is something that has always made me immensely happy. Every time I leave for a "hiking holiday", I feel a sense of freedom inside. Some people hike for exercise, some for witnessing the spectacular views, but for me, hiking is something more than this. It’s a meditation, a state of mind, an unforgettable experience. I love the feeling I get when I’m hiking up the trail and the sun filters down between the leaves of the trees, highlighting different shades of green, red, and yellow. How alive it feels listening to the rustling of leaves, watching the flowers bloom, and breathing the fresh air! 

The vast and varied landscapes of North Carolina have many places to explore. When it comes to hiking, NC has plenty of places where this activity is possible. Here, I’m going to list down some oft-visited hiking trails in North Carolina that are favorite to thousands of backpackers. 

1. Looking Glass Rock Trail

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Pisgah National Forest
Distance: 6.4 miles (Round trip)
Level: Moderate

This is, without doubt, one of the most popular hikes in North Carolina. The lush green landscapes and phenomenal views make this trail a favorite place for many hikers and adventurers. The trail is often crowded on warm weather weekends. Located 45 minutes from the town of Ashville, Looking Glass Rock Trail offers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Parkway. As you begin hiking on the trail, you will see a beautiful series of cascades on your way. After some time, you will reach a flat area where many hikers like to rest and enjoy the soothing air. If you want to see the best of this place, gather some more effort and try climbing up to the Upper Looking Glass Cliff. Make sure that you carry a good amount of water, an extra pair of hiking shoes, and some snacks to munch.

2. Grandfather Profile Trail

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Grandfather Mountain
Distance: 6.2 Miles (Round Trip)
Level: Difficult

Grandfather Profile Trail is one of the prominent hiking trails on Grandfather Mountain. Take this hike to witness the breathtaking views of the Grandfather Mountain Face, Calloway Peak, and Watauga. Some of the attractions on this hike such as the Mile High Swinging Bridge requires a permit. Although this trail is quite challenging, you will not be able to forget its picturesque surroundings filled with aromatic wildflowers and hardwood trees. The trail goes through a picturesque shallow river lined by rhododendron making the path more magical. It is one of the famous hiking trails near Boone in the Western part of North Carolina.

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3. Catawba Falls Trail

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Location: East of Asheville
Distance: 2.7 Miles (Round Trip)
Level: Moderate

The mind-boggling beauty of Catawba River makes this hiking trail one of the most beautiful hiking trails in NC with waterfalls. As you begin your hike on this trail, you will see a scenic waterfall after another at an interval of few minutes. This series of waterfalls, the canopy of rhododendron and pine, and the beautiful stretch of Pisgah National forest create a wonderland around adventurous hikers. The hike crosses a small tributary system and old moss-covered rocks. You have to be careful while walking here as the rocks are little slippery. If you feel tired, and want to reduce the time of your hike, you can take a smaller side trail that descends from the river.

4. Green Knob Trail

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Location: North of Blue Ridge Parkway, Boone
Distance: 2.3 Miles (Round Trip)
Level: Easy

This fabulous hike begins at Sims Pond Overlook and winds through a canopy of towering trees. The trail takes the hikers through the incredible views of valleys, meadows, woods, and creek. Along with several small cascades, the entire path is full of blooming Round-leaved Boneset. Follow the trail further and soon you will enter a bowl-shaped valley that gets filled with vibrant red-color leaves and daisy flea banes. As you reach the end of the trail, you will find some benches under the Oak trees to relax. Here, you will find the trail surrounded by glittering goldenrod.

Must Read For the Hikers:

5. Whiteside Mountain Trail

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Location: NC Highlands
Distance: 2 Miles (Round Trip)
Level: Moderate

This gorgeous hiking trail in North Carolina is located in Nantahala National Forest close to the towns of Highlands and Cashiers. The trail is popular among the hikers as well as tourists due to its short distance and moderate elevation. The trail is visited by a number of travelers all year round although it looks breathtakingly beautiful in Fall. If you are someone like me, who finds solace in the tranquil air of mountains, you must plan a hike here. Surrounded by hardwood forests, Whiteside Mountain Trail offers panoramic views of the Whiteside Mountain ridge. The trail is guarded by cables making it safer to walk. 

6. Linville Falls-Erwin's View

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Blue Ridge Parkway
Distance: 1.9 miles (Round Trip)
Level: Difficult

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Linville Falls-Erwin’s View Harper Creek Falls, Pisgah National Forest. The waterfalls formed by Linville River make it one of the most beautiful hiking trails in eastern NC. The hike begins from Linville Falls visitor centre and takes around 1 to 2 hours to complete. The trail takes you on a tour of giant rocks and picturesque waterfalls, moving around the forests of old-growth hemlock and white pines that you would surely like to capture in your camera. The trail is in close proximity to craggy pinnacle overlook, plunge basin trail, and cascade falls. Although the trail is difficult for the novice hikers, you can make it slow enjoying the spectacular views it offers, and you will not realize when you reach the uppermost part. 

7. Hanging Rock Trail

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Hanging Rock State Park
Distance: 2.5 Miles (Round Trip)
Level: Moderate

Perfect for a "trail vacation" with family, hanging Rock Trail offers extraordinary views of the NC Piedmont and Sauratown Mountains. The trail boasts a waterfall and many panoramic views of the landscape. The reason it is suitable for families is that in addition to hiking, this trail offers a number of activities for all ages that are available all year round. The trail is also dog-friendly. The trail follows the ridgeline to the base of Hanging Rock from where you can take a left turn and move towards the Hanging Rock overlook. Close to this is Moore’s Wall Loop Trail which is another great option for a healthy hike. 

In addition to the above-mentioned hiking trails, the diverse land of North Carolina houses Old Mitchell Trail in Mount Mitchell, Pink Beds Loop in Pisgah National Forest, Flat Laurel Creek-Sam's Knob Trail, Mount Le Conte via Alum Cave Trail in Great Smoky Mountains, and Dupont Waterfalls Trail in Dupont State Forest. While some hikes are easy to handle, some are challenging. Overall, North Carolina offers an opportunity to find new meanings of life while exploring stunning mountains, unforeseen scenery, exquisite wildlife, and thrilling heights. Happy Hiking!

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