From hardcore hikes to leisurely strolls, wanders in the wood to rambles in the parks, there are plenty of tracks and trails in the Tar Heel State to keep all kinds of walkers happy. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to lace up those boots and embrace the great outdoors with our list of the best walks in North Carolina.
7 of the Best Walks in North Carolina
1. Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail
At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers magnificent 360° views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The walk is a steep half-mile climb to the tower at the top. It will take about one hour to walk up to the top.
Located within Pinnacle Park, this walk is more of a hike and is definitely challenging, but the payoff is worth it. The six-and-a-half-mile trip gains roughly 2,800 feet (850 meters) of elevation, but once you reach the top, you’ll find sweeping views of the craggy forest-covered mountains that make it all the effort worthwhile.
3. Roan Highlands Grassy Ridge Bald
The Roan Highlands Grassy Ridge Bald is located along the Appalachian Trail and is five miles long. As you walk, you’ll enjoy wide-open views of the rolling Roan Highlands with its grassy fields carpeted in wildflowers. At the top, you’ll have sweeping 360-degree views of Round Bald, Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge Bald.
4. Paradise Falls
If you want to go chasing waterfalls, Paradise Falls is the perfect walk for you. This is a fast out-and-back trail that’s only a mile and a half long, so it’s an easy one for an afternoon adventure. Thanks to its relative seclusion, it’s also the perfect summer swimming spot too. Make sure you pack a picnic and a towel and make the most of the beautiful natural surroundings.
5. Catawba Falls
Another wonderful walk for waterfall lovers. If you’ve spent any time in Asheville, no doubt you’ll be familiar with Catawba beer, which takes its name from the Catawba River. This three-mile out-and-back trail is a refreshing walk with a beautiful reward. As you walk along the scenic headwaters of the Catawba River you’ll pass historic buildings, for instance, remnants of a 1920s hydropower dam that provided power for the town of Old Fort. On this walk, you’ll cross a few streams, so wear sturdy boots.
6. Art Loeb Trail
The Art Loeb Trail is a 30.1-mile walking trail located in Pisgah National Forest. Due to its location within Pisgah National Forest, this walk is at a lower elevation and, therefore, opens longer throughout the year thanks to milder weather than on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This trail climbs four peaks including Cold Mountain and the quartz rock formations of Shining Rock Mountain. The Art Loeb trail uses the same path as the Mountains to Sea trail along portions of its length.
7. Graveyard Fields
Located near Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Graveyard Fields is a popular trailhead which also has a great swimming hole that many people hike to during the summer. When the leave change colour in the autumn, the landscape looks like it’s on fire with all the shimmering red, orange and gold leaves. This walk tends to get crowded, especially during the weekends in the summer, so get there early or plan to park farther away from the trailhead.