The 15 Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina!

North Carolina may very well be the state with the most variety when it comes to hiking locations. Whether you’re one with nature or an amateur adventurer, North Carolina has a trail for everyone. Here are 15 places to consider for your next hike. 

1. William B. Umstead State Park, Raleigh, NC

With trailheads on both sides of the park and three manmade lakes, visiting William B. Umstead State Park is a must for cyclists, runners, hikers, campers, and equestrians alike. Its canoe and rowboat rentals, fishing docks, cabins and campgrounds, and picnic areas are sure to meet all your outdoor needs.

2. Crowder’s Mountain, Kings Mountain, NC

Outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, is the 1,625-foot summit of Crowder’s Mountain. Trails of varying difficulties are marked along the mountain, with the shortest and steepest being the Backside Trail. Before visiting, check the map so you can plan how long you want your journey up the mountain to be.

3. Graveyard Fields

Beyond the Blue Ridge Parkway are the Graveyard Fields trails, a loop that winds through a valley to secluded waterfalls. The hike is lined with a log fence and is under four miles long, making it one of the many outdoor experiences near Asheville, North Carolina, perfect for a daytrip.

4. Kings Pinnacle, Crowders Mountain State Park, NC

Crowder Mountain State Park’s highest peak, Kings Pinnacle, is a less-traveled trail known for its dense and unique foliage. Rhododendron bushes and hardwood trees surround the hike. The southern limit of the Bear Oak and the native home of the Mountain High-Bush Blueberry is a hidden haven for hikers old and new.

5. South Mountains State Park, Connelly Springs, NC

South Mountains State Park is one of North Carolina’s most rugged backcountry areas. An 80-foot waterfall, mountain streams, elevations up to 3,000 feet, and more than 40 miles of trails combine for endless adventure.

6. Buffalo Creek Greenway, Smithfield, NC

Smithfield, North Carolina, is home to the Buffalo Creek Greenway, a paved trail that meanders about three miles to the News River Walk. The trail is wheelchair-accessible and 10 feet wide to accommodate all its visitors including bicyclists.

7. Chestnut Oak Nature Trail, Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury, NC

One of Hanging Rock State Park’s trails in Danbury, North Carolina is a short, one-way known as Chestnut Oak Nature Trail. Less than a mile in length, this trail is a great option for hiking with family members of all ages.

8. Grandfather Mountain

Close to Linville, North Carolina, is the nearly 6,000-foot Grandfather Mountain. The non-profit site has the steepest slope of the eastern Blue Ridge Mountains and hosts daily events like group wildlife encounters and sunrise watching.

9. Green Knob Trail, Blowing Rock, NC

Although considered to be a difficult hike spanning nine miles, the Green Knob Hike leads to a remote part of the Pisgah National Forest at a 5,000-foot elevation. Along the hike are many massive forests of firs, spruces, beeches, oaks, and other trees.

10. Flat Laurel Creek, Cecil, NC

The Flat Laurel Creek hike loops around the creek’s headwater basin and connects to side-hikes that lead to a waterfall. It’s not far from Graveyard Fields, but it’s considerably more private, even with its gentle climbs. 

11. Eno River State Park

With five access areas through Durham and Orange counties, the Eno River State Park is a popular spot for locals seeking to camp, hike, canoe, kayak, or fish. Nearly 30 miles of hiking trails can be traveled with the shallow stream in sight.

12. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Robbinsville, NC

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is regarded as one of the United States’ best examples of old-growth forests, of natural preservation. Many of its trees are over 400 years old and 100 feet tall. To further protect the forest, it may only be visited by travelers hiking on foot.

13. Tanawha Trail

Paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway on Grandfather Mountain is the Tanawha Trail. The 13.5-mile trail named after the Cherokee word meaning fabulous hawk or eagle leads hikers by ancient ecosystems, boulder fields, and streams with a bird’s eye view.

14. Pisgah National Forest, Nebo, NC

The first American school of forestry is in the Pisgah National Forest, a hardwood forest of 500,000 acres. Mile-high peaks, slopes, and waterfalls encircle two of the first designated wilderness areas in the eastern states.  

15. Appalachian Trail

It’s no surprise that a trail traversing 14 states and 2,190 miles attracts three million people each year. Plan your hike on the Appalachian Trail by choosing North Carolina on the interactive map.

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