10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Hikes near Asheville, NC

Douglas Falls in Big Ivy in Barnardsville

Asheville is known for its hiking trails and natural attractions, and some hikes, more than others, get all the attention. Well-worn trails near Asheville are often popular for a reason, but there's something to be said about finding peace, quiet, and solitude in the woods. Here are 10 less trampled, lesser-known great hikes near Asheville where you're more likely to cross paths with a local or native wildlife while you ponder the path less traveled.

Douglas Falls from Craggy Gardens

A scenic hike to Craggy Gardens near Asheville, NC

Craggy Gardens is one of the top places to visit on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. From the National Park Service visitor center and the top of the Craggy Pinnacle hike, the views are virtually unmatched. But Craggy Gardens is also a trailhead for a hike to a 70-foot hidden waterfall: Douglas Falls. It’s a strenuous 6.6-mile roundtrip hike, but for someone who loves adventure it’s worth the refreshing reward.

Graybeard Trail

Graybeard Mountain Trail

Black Mountain is known for its small-town charm and thriving downtown with local shops, galleries and restaurants. The town has also been recognized as the "Prettiest Small Town in America." However, fewer hikers venture to Graybeard Mountain, which offers a birds eye view of the town and incredible scenery. Along the way, you’ll even see a small waterfall. Be advised: it's a 9.5-mile round-trip with 2,400 feet of elevation gain, so set aside five to six hours.

Trombatore Trail

Trombatore Trail in Winter

Bearwallow Mountain is considered one of the best hikes in Asheville. But literally right across the road from the Bearwallow Mountain trailhead is the starting point for a lesser-known hike: The Trombatore Trail. The 5-mile round-trip trail leads to a beautiful pasture at the summit, which is perfect for a picnic. And, you’re likely not to see many other hikers there.

Big Butt Trail

Big Butt Trail

All jokes aside because of the name, Big Butt Trail is a seriously great hike through a high-elevation northern hardwoods forest. It’s a 4.8-mile round-trip hike that's great if you want an up-close glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountain's biodiversity. Bring food for a picnic at Little Butt Mountain along the way.

Pinnacle Park

Pinnacle Park View

Dramatic views await you at the Pinnacle of Pinnacle Park. This day trip provides a challenging hike with unique features along the way. The 7.6-mile round-trip trail is a favorite among local college students at Western Carolina University. In search of solitude? Extend your hike to Blackrock.

Elk Pen to Big Ivy Trail

This 3.1-mile out-and-back trail near Barnardsville is moderately challenging, but can be done in under two hours. It's ideal for birding (especially migratory birds) and wildlife encounters, as it is unlikely you'll see many other people on the trail. March through November is the best time to go, and because there are several creek crossings, take the gravel road when the water is high. 

Daniel Ridge Loop Trail

This 4-mile riverside loop hike near Brevard rewards with a 150-foot cascade. Because the Brevard area is so rife with waterfalls, this one is often overlooked and a bit more obscure to the masses. 

Turkey Pen Gap Loop

Break out the water shoes, because this 4.6-mile roundtrip along the South Fork of the Mills River does involve fording the river, which is also why this Asheville area hike is off-the-beaten-path. The trail climbs around 400 feet, making it an easy to moderate adventure through a hardwood forest. A suspension bridge on the return means you'll only have to wade through the river once.

Mountains to Sea Trail: Folk Art Center

This five-mile hike along the coast-to-coast Mountains to Sea Trail is super close to downtown. From the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 382), it's a steady uphill climb past wildflowers and mushrooms to the top of the mountain, with views overlooking Haw Creek Valley. 

Black Mountain Crest Trail

That the Black Mountain Crest Trail has a reputation of being one of the most difficult trails on the East Coast is reason why it's also less traveled; it's 11 miles long (end to end) and very strenuous. Between the trailhead at Bowlens Creek Road south of Burnsville and the observation deck at Mount Mitchell, summit-bagging hikers who take up this challenge will get to trek the largest collection of 6,000-foot peaks east of the Mississippi and witness jaw-dropping views galore. 

To find the perfect hike for you, check out our Asheville Hike Finder.

Updated February 24, 2024