Outdoor enthusiasts have plenty of room to roam in Asheville, with Outside Magazine recognizing Asheville as one of the best cities in America for outdoor recreation. Here are some of the attractions:
North Carolina Arboretum
The 434-acre public garden has access to hiking and biking trails along with numerous individual gardens – including a bonsai collection. North Carolina Arboretum is southwest of Asheville near the Blue Ridge Parkway and is open daily except for Christmas. There is no admission charge.
Buncombe County Greenways
Buncombe County Greenways are open pathways that safely connect parks, schools and communities throughout Asheville. Greenways and trails are designated for bicycling, walking and jogging along corridors that connect natural areas, parks, cultural attractions, neighborhoods, schools, community destinations and commercial areas.
French Broad River Greenway
French Broad River Greenway links three of Asheville's parks: Hominy Creek, Carrier and French Broad River. The two-mile asphalt trail follows the river, coursing through a wooded strip of land, through the parks and among some residential and light commercial sites.
Outdoor adventure activities like whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing are popular in Asheville, and the area includes four Class V rapids along with hundreds of Class II-IV stretches on multiple rivers in the area. Those looking for lighter water fare can fish in the many rivers and lakes or visit Sliding Rock, a natural water slide on a 60-foot slab of well-worn rock. Speaking of rocks, climbers come to the region for its many mountain rock faces, most notably Looking Glass Rock, the most popular climbing spot in North Carolina.
Skiing, Paddling and Balloons
Snow skiing is readily available to residents of Asheville, with Cataloochee Ski Area just 30 minutes away. Asheville Adventure Rentals offers a variety of boats and camping gear for river trips and extended hikes. Meanwhile, hot-air balloon tours are provided by Asheville Hot Air Balloons LLC. Flight paths depend on the direction the wind is blowing and balloons usually stay between 200 and 500 feet in the air.
The Asheville Tourists
Asheville residents have had a home team to root for since 1915 when the Asheville Tourists, a Class A farm team for the Colorado Rockies, began playing baseball. Local fans have been filling McCormick Field since 1924. After going through a renovation in 1992, the ballpark now holds 4,000 people.
With three public courses within Asheville and many more just a short drive away, there is no shortage of great places to play golf. The Golf Course at the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa, Asheville Municipal Golf Course, and Crowne Plaza Resort are all open to the public. Private courses in the community are Biltmore Forest Country Club and The Cliffs at Walnut Cove. High Carolina Golf Course is slated to open in early 2013.
Carrier Park offers a bicycle velodrome, roller hockey rink and lawn bowling court. Other interesting features among Asheville parks include a shuffleboard court at Harvest House Center, disc golf at Richmond Hill Park, a climbing wall at the Montford Complex, and dog parks at Azalea and French Broad River parks. Don't forget to visit Mount Mitchell State Park – it features the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.