A naturalist narrows down five must-try hikes in the Asheville area.
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or just bought your first pair of hiking boots, Asheville and its surrounding areas offer a roster of hikes you are sure to enjoy.
“Hikers love the feeling of being lost in the wilderness,” says Jenny Gruhn of Asheville Hiking Tours. “These are some of my favorite hikes less than an hour from Asheville.”
1. Whiteside Mountain
This 2.5-mile loop climbs to an elevation of nearly 5,000 feet, meandering through a hardwood forest along a path partially along a boardwalk. Hikers will come up on overlooks that offer panoramic views of the valley below.
2. Big Creek Trail/Mouse Creek Falls
Created to haul lumber down the mountain, what was once a railroad grade is now a 4.2-mile hiking trail. Hikers are rewarded with views of wildflowers as well as Midnight Hole, an emerald-green pool filled by a small waterfall.
3. Little Bradley Falls
This up-and-back 1.8-mile trail is a great option year-round for a moderate hike featuring lots of shad etrees, old ruins and a 50-foot waterfall.
4. Sam Knob
Near the Blue Ridge Parkway, this hike is 2.2 miles roundtrip, with steep slopes made easier by switchbacks. A meadow of wildflowers gives way to panoramic views at the summit.
5. Mount Mitchell
The highest point east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell was one of the nation’s first state parks. The trails here range from short hikes to challenging treks.