Difficult Trails

Incredible mountain views are the payoff, but to earn them you’ll have to put your skills to the test. Rugged terrain, geological obstacles, and dramatic climbs in elevation are the real deal here. Hikes could be as long as ten+ miles, or could climb over 2,000 feet in elevation.

Big Butt Trail

Big Butt Trail

by Danny Bernstein

Two trails start at Walker Knob Overlook. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail with its characteristic white circles starts from the middle of the parking area. This hike on the Big Butt Trail goes up from the left side, in back of a wooden sign which … read more

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain Trails

by Joanne O'Sullivan

Local author Charles Frazier made this 6030-foot-high peak in the Great Balsams famous with his 1997 novel of the same name. The 2000 movie version won the hearts of even more fans. Hikers love it too, but it’s not a journey to take lightly. … read more

Grandfather Mountain Trail

Grandfather Mountain Trail

by Joanne O'Sullivan

Called the most technical hike east of the Mississippi (without climbing equipment), the hike to McRae’s Peak, Attic Window and Grandfather Calloway Peak at Grandfather Mountain is also affectionately called the “chutes and ladders” … read more

Graybeard Trail

by Joanne O'Sullivan

Founded as a retreat center in the 1890s, Montreat later developed as a conference center for the Presbyterian Church and also includes a college. The area’s steep wooded trails offer access to views of the peaks of the Black Mountains, called … read more

Linville Gorge East Rim

Linville Gorge East Rim Trails

by Joanne O'Sullivan

Called “the Grand Canyon of the East,” Linville Gorge drops 2,000 feet to the Linville River. Part of the nearly 12,000-acre Linville Gorge Wilderness, this is unspoiled country where rock climbers and backcountry campers with serious … read more

Looking Glass & Parkway in Fall

Looking Glass Rock Trail

by Joanne O'Sullivan

Looking Glass Rock is a white-granite “pluton” (igneous rock), rising to nearly 4,000 feet from the floor of Pisgah National Forest . Visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway , Mt. Pisgah and even the Black Balsam, it’s hugely popular … read more

Lover's Leap in Fall

Lover’s Leap Loop Trail

by Joanne O'Sullivan

Taking its name from a local legend, the Lover’s Leap Trail in Hot Springs offers a bird’s eye view of the French Broad River and the mountains beyond it. Following the Appalachian Trail for a stretch, you’ll hike to a series of … read more