Easy Hiking Trails Near Asheville, N.C.

Find gorgeous mountain vistas without breaking a sweat. Suitable for kids and beginner hikers, these trails are typically less than three miles with an elevation gain of only 700 to 800 feet. Short and low-impact trails require limited skill and don’t pose much of a challenge.

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*Travel Time is repesented by the distance from downtown Asheville

Asheville Botanical Gardens Trails

  • Distance from Asheville: 1.5 miles
  • Length: 0.5-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

Just north of downtown, the 10-acre Asheville Botanical Gardens at the University of North Carolina at Asheville is an urban oasis with a shady half-mile loop trail that highlights 600 species of plants native to the Southern Appalachians. Reflecting Asheville’s character, this botanical garden isn’t too formal. You’ll often find students here writing in journals, sketching or doing yoga and kids playing the creek or people picnicking. For a quick introduction to the mountain landscape, it can’t be beat. More Info

Bearwallow Mountain Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 19 miles; 30-35 minutes from downtown
  • Length: 1-mile trail to the meadow; 0.7-mile gravel access road
  • Difficulty: Moderate

A open mountain meadow, Bearwallow Mountain is perfectly picturesque and ideal for picnicking. More Info

Big Butt Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 45 minutes
  • Length: 4.8 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: Difficult

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 says "Little Butt 3 miles," a slight overestimation. Little Butt is our destination; Big Butt, itself, is overgrown and without a view. More Info

Biltmore Estate Trails

  • Distance from Asheville: 2 miles
  • Length: 1.7 to 6 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Biltmore’s trails are accessible to those who have either an annual pass or ticket. Once you’re on the estate, you can choose to start your hike from the house, the Lagoon, the Bass Pond, the Inn or the area near Antler Hill Village. Possibly the best option is to pick up a trail map from the Outdoor Center at Antler Hill Village. More Info

Black Balsam Hike on Art Loeb Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 36 miles (1 hour)
  • Length: 2 miles round trip to Black Balsam (with options to add on to create a longer hike or loop).
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Surrounded by wilderness, this tree-free ‘bald’ is an easy-to-moderate, family-friendly hike, ideal for picnicking or blueberry picking. More Info

Bridal Veil Falls Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: About 38 miles; 50-60 minute drive
  • Length: 1.88 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Fans of The Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans were introduced to Bridal Veil Falls in Dupont State Forest on the silver screen. Hikers can easily take in the view, too, with this easy, scenic stroll through the woods. With plenty of exposed rock around the falls, this is a great picnic spot. More Info

Catawba Falls Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 25 miles; 30 minutes
  • Length: 1.5 miles each way; 3 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: Easy

Catawba Falls is relatively close to downtown Asheville (just 25 miles away) and offers stunning beauty thanks to a series of cascades that, together, are 100 feet tall. The U.S. Forest Service recently has made the easy-to-moderate trail even more enjoyable by adding two new footbridges so that you no longer have to rock hop across the river to enjoy the falls. The hike is just three miles round trip. More Info

Cold Mountain Trails

  • Distance from Asheville: For trailhead to longer, less strenuous hike, about 53 miles; 60-70-minute drive For trailhead to shorter, more strenuous hike, 33 miles, 50 minutes
  • Length: 18 miles round-trip on the easier hike, 10.6 miles round trip for strenuous hike
  • Difficulty: Difficult

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. With an average of 7 to 10 hours on the trail, this adventure requires preparation and commitment, but rewards with solitude and remarkable views. More Info

Craggy Pinnacle Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 24 miles; 35-minute drive
  • Length: 1.2 miles total (.6 mile each way)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

A short, easy-to-access hike through a rhododendron thicket brings you to the pinnacle and 360˚views, glorious sunsets or morning mist on the mountains. More Info

Daniel Ridge Loop Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 39 miles; 50-55 minutes
  • Length: 4-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate

With so many waterfalls in the Brevard area, Daniel Ridge Falls (a 150-foot cascade on Lanning Branch that’s also called Tom Spring Falls and less frequently, Jackson Falls) is often overlooked. Take advantage of its relative obscurity to have this peaceful riverside loop trail all to yourself. A mountain biker may whizz by you, but otherwise, all you’ll hear is rushing water and birdsongs along your way. More Info

Deep Creek Waterfall Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: About 65 miles, 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Length: 5-miles loop (or shorter if only doing sections)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Deep Creek is one of the most beloved areas in the Smokies, known for offering the opportunity to see three beautiful waterfalls. Take a 5-mile loop hike to see them all or craft a shorter hike. Deep Creek is also known for its popular tubing sections -- one of which passes directly in front of one of the waterfalls! The Deep Creek trail was an old logging road used around the turn of the 20thcentury. Splash dams were built along the creek to float timber down to the sawmills in the area. More Info

Devil's Courthouse Hike on Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Distance from Asheville: About 37 miles, 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Length: 1 mile round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

From the parking area at Devil’s Courthouse Blue Ridge Parkway, you can see your destination above you: an imposing rock outcropping that dares you to climb it. Rise to the challenge: from atop this edifice, you’ll have the world at your feet, with views to the north, south and west. After all, the summit of Devil's Courthouse is at 5,720 feet. More Info

Douglas Falls Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: Trailhead for short hike: About 32 miles (1 hour 10 minutes); Trailhead for longer hike: About 20 miles (40 minutes)
  • Length: 1 mile round trip (short); 6.6-miles round trip (long)
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate to Difficult

Tucked away in the beautiful Big Ivy area of Pisgah National Forest, the 70-foot Douglas Falls offers the rare opportunity to walk behind a waterfall. The waterfall drops from an overhanging cliff and features an impressive rock wall in the background. More Info

Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: About 25 miles, 40 minutes
  • Length: About 1.5 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Fryingpan Tower is the tallest fire tower in Western North Carolina. So, even though the hike isn't difficult, this hike may not be for those who are afraid of heights. The only way to see the views on this hike is by climbing the tower. More Info

Glassy Mountain Trail at the Carl Sandburg Home

  • Distance from Asheville: Around 31 miles; 40 minutes
  • Length: 1.3 miles from the house to the top of Big Glassy Mountain
  • Difficulty: Easy

Carl Sandburg, “the People’s Poet” bought his historic home Connemara in 1945. After he died, his wife donated the property to the National Park Service and now this 267-acre National Historic Site preserves his legacy. This great day trip from Asheville combines history, nature and (especially interesting for kids) lots of goats. More Info

Grandfather Mountain Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: 70 miles, 90 minutes
  • Length: 2.4 miles each way to Calloway Peak
  • Difficulty: Difficult

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” trail because it involves a number of cable-assisted and ladder-access area. Scale these peaks for the adventure of it, but don’t take the challenge too lightly: this is for experienced hikers. More Info

Graveyard Fields Loop Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 40 miles; 1 hour
  • Length: 3.5 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Waterfalls, rhododendron, fall color, summer blueberry picking and high-elevation meadows and forests: there’s a reason just about everyone who hikes near Asheville has been to Graveyard Fields. This family-friendly hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway has something for everyone and several hiking options. More Info

Graybeard Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: 18 miles; 25 minutes
  • Length: 4.8 miles from trail head to summit (9.5 miles roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Difficult

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 the Seven Sisters. Graybeard Trail is challenging, but rewards effort with incredible views. Stop by the Montreat Store on your way to the trailhead for a free trail map. More Info

Hard Times Loop Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: 15 minutes
  • Length: 6 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

This gentle trail takes hikers through Bent Creek Experimental Forest and the North Carolina Arboretum, with great views of mountain ridges and Lake Powhatan, as well as a glimpse of the magnificent Biltmore House. More Info

Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: About 38 miles; 50-60 minute drive
  • Length: Hooker Falls, .4 miles each way Triple Falls, .5 mile from Hooker Falls Parking Lot High Falls Trail, .5 mile from Triple Falls 2.2 miles total for all three falls
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Dupont State Forest is the best place to discover why Brevard and Transylvania County is called “The Land of the Waterfalls.” Get a sampler of some of the area’s wonderful waterfalls with a (mostly) easy hike to Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls. Accessible enough for kids, the trails that connect the falls are scenic and include picnic spots. Fans of The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicanswill recognize some of the scenery. More Info

John Rock Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 38 miles; 55 minutes
  • Length: 5.7 miles total (via the bypass)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

From the parking lot of the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, head toward the left of the parking lot, to the paved Forest Road 475c. From here, you’ll start the Cat Gap Loop Trail (#120). You’ll cross a bridge and enter a forested area. The trail will level out for a while and you’ll have several more creek crossings as well as some that involve rock hopping.  You’ll come across a spur trail (.25 mile) to the left, leading to Cedar Rock Falls. It’s a pretty little break in the hike. More Info

Max Patch Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 40 miles; 70-75 minute drive
  • Length: 1.4 or 2.4 mile round trip on each trail
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Max Patch is a “bald,” the Southern Appalachian name for a hilltop without a single tree.  While this mountain isn’t naturally bald (it was cleared for grazing in the nineteenth century), it’s certainly naturally beautiful. Some call it “the crown jewel of the Appalachian Trail,” the famous footpath which crosses it at the top. Bring a picnic, a Frisbee or a kite and plan on practicing yoga in the idyllic scenery here near Hot Springs. More Info

Laurel River Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 36 miles; 30 minutes
  • Length: 3.6 miles to the end, but can be hiked to any length
  • Difficulty: Easy

There’s something about the Laurel River Trail that feels hidden and undiscovered, even if you’re sharing this former rail-bed trail with others. Take a picnic, bring your dog and wear your swimsuit if it’s summer. There are many places to sit out on the rocks and soak in the sun. This is a family-friendly hike that even small children can handle. Combine it with a visit to Hot Springs just 10 minutes farther away for a full-day outing. More Info

Moore Cove Falls Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 38 miles; 45 minutes
  • Length: .7 miles each way in and out, 1.4 miles total
  • Difficulty: Easy

The trail starts with a lovely wooden bridge over the creek, followed by a set of stairs down. The hardest part of this trail is in the first 1/10th of a mile. After that, it’s wide and mostly downhill into a cool, shady forest. In the spring, there are a variety of shade-loving flowers here such as jack-in-the-pulpit and trillium. There are ferns all year round. Several more wooden bridges on the way traverse over the babbling creek. There are only a few relatively steep spots with built-in steps along the way. More Info

Mountains-To-Sea-Trail at Craven Gap

  • Distance from Asheville: About 7 miles, 15 minutes
  • Length: 4.8 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate

With thousands of acres of wilderness close to Asheville, where do you start to explore? For an introduction to the splendor of mountain scenery, try Craven Gap off the Blue Ridge Parkway, just 15 minutes from downtown. It’s a hike that families can enjoy. It's also the only place a president has set foot on the Parkway: President and Mrs. Obama hiked here in 2010. More Info

Mount Pisgah Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 35 minutes
  • Length: 2.6 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Pisgah can be seen from many places throughout the Asheville area. In fact, many of Biltmore's windows perfectly frame this iconic peak. Once you reach the summit, you'll have a great view of another of the area's most iconic peaks: Cold Mountain. More Info

Linville Gorge East Rim Trails

  • Distance from Asheville: 60 miles; about 2 hours
  • Length: 1.5 to 2.4 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Difficult

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 gear like to spend time in solitude. West Rim trails tend to go down into the gorge, but along the East Rim, you’ll find a number of trails that climb up to incredible views or feature a series of drops and climbs along the way. The spectacular scenery is worth the challenge if you’re up for it and prepared. More Info

Little Cataloochee Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 45 miles; 70-minute drive
  • Length: 6.1 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderate

For nearly a century, Big and Little Cataloochee valleys in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were home to generations of farming families. Hike past abandoned (but mostly restored) homesteads and churches that were once full of life. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter Cataloochee’s most interesting new residents: the herd of elk that now graze the meadows and roam these wooded hills. More Info

Looking Glass Rock Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 36 miles; 45-50 minutes
  • Length: 6.4 miles total
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

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 with both hikers and rock climbers, especially during winter when there’s less concern about the heat radiating off the rock. Challenge yourself to a partially steep hike and you’ll be rewarded with amazing 360˚-views in every season. Just think of the pictures you’ll get from the top. More Info

Lookout Trail Hike in Montreat

  • Distance from Asheville: About 18 miles, 25 minutes
  • Length: 1.4 miles round trip (with the option of adding other trails for a longer hike)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If traveling from downtown Asheville, you can be stepping on the Lookout Trail in Montreat in about 25 minutes and, after a brisk hike, stepping off it under an hour later. Rock outcroppings near the peak make for perfect picnicking, and the horizon is dotted with the peaks of the Seven Sisters of the Black Mountains. Fall color is spectacular here, but the views are impressive any time of year. The trail is steep and includes a few scrambles at the top, but the views are well worth the effort. More Info

Lover’s Leap Loop Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: 35 miles; 40-45 minutes
  • Length: 1.6 Miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult

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 rock outcroppings where you can enjoy the view, a picnic and a breather from the somewhat strenuous hike. More Info

Lunch Rocks Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 15 minutes
  • Length: 4.9 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate

This section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) leads from the Folk Art Center to a beautiful view of the Haw Creek valley at Lunch Rocks. After your hike, be sure to stop into the Folk Art Center to discover art and handicrafts made by local artists. More Info

Pink Beds Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: 31 miles, 50 minutes
  • Length: 5.3 Miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Nature lovers flock to the Pink Beds Loop Trail in Pisgah National Forest. The sounds of the rushing creeks and bird song add a peaceful, unhurried feeling to the atmosphere. Evidence of wildlife—such as the beaver dams seen on the ponds—is all around on this winding woodland trail. More Info

Pinnacle Park Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: 47 miles, 50 minutes
  • Length: 7.6 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Looking for a challenge? Dramatic views await at The Pinnacle, a rock outcropping that sits at elevation 5,008 feet. When you reach the summit, you'll see the town of Sylva below, with the Smokies in the distance and the Plott Balsam mountain range in the foreground. You’ll get a serious workout on this uphill-all-the-way hike, which is especially popular with students at Western Carolina University (located just 15 minutes away). More Info

Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: About 57 miles; 1 hour, 30 minute drive
  • Length: 1.5 miles each way to Rainbow Falls, an additional 1 mile round-trip to Turtleback Falls
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Horsepasture River thunders down a 125-foot drop spraying up a mist that creates rainbows that sparkle in the sunlight. This magical sight can be seen at Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park, one of the best Western North Carolina waterfall hikes. More Info

Riverside Cemetery Hike

  • Distance from Asheville: 1 mile; 5 minutes
  • Length: 3.5 miles of paved roads inside the gates
  • Difficulty: Easy

Designed in 1885 in the park-like Victorian style, Riverside Cemetery is the final resting place of some of Asheville’s most prominent citizens, including Thomas Wolfe.  Set on 87 shady acres, Riverside is a walk through Asheville’s past on smooth, paved trails, past over a dozen family mausoleums and impressive statuary. Stroll through this serene landscape for traces of Asheville’s early days. More Info

Roan Mountain Hike on the Appalachian Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: 64 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Length: About 5 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Considered one of the most scenic areas on the entire Appalachian Trail, this section starting from Carver’s Gap (elevation 5,512) takes you across three spectacular unique grassy hilltops (known as "balds") with unimpeded views. More Info

Sam Knob at Black Balsam Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: About 53 miles; 60-70-minute drive
  • Length: 2.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

An alternative to the popular Black Balsam Knob hike that can be accessed from the same parking lot off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sam Knob will win your heart with high mountain meadows and long-range wilderness views that rival any in the region. More Info

Trombatore Trail

  • Distance from Asheville: 19 miles, 30-35 minutes
  • Length: 5 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Steep wooded slopes, mountain creeks, open fields and long-range views: this trail has a little bit of every type of terrain that you'd find in the Hickory Nut Gap area. Since the trail is new (completed in 2014) and not well known, you’re unlikely to have to share the payoff view at the summit with other hikers. More Info

Wildcat Rock Trail in Hickory Nut Gorge

  • Distance from Asheville: 18.5 miles, 30 minutes
  • Length: 3 Miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult

The Wildcat Rock Trail features a waterfall, long-range views, caves and wildflowers. Wildcat Rock TrailCompleted in 2017, the three-mile (each way) trail is the result of years of conservation efforts between a local couple and several conservation groups. More Info

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