We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Although, I’m a little biased. Many of my couples travel here from all over the country, and I get asked often for hiking trail recommendations. I thought I would finally take the time to write up a list of my favorites.
Note: I wrote this guide for those who enjoy hiking, not necessarily for the most “photographic” spots for photographers. Some of these trails offer incredible views, but some are just a nice path through the wilderness.
// Located near Hot Springs on the Appalachian Trail. About 1.5 hours from Asheville.
// Easy hike. Less than a mile to the summit.
// The trail is very open on top of a hill.
// Known for the 360º views, beautiful sunsets, and tall fields in the summer.
Black Balsam Knob
// About an hour from Asheville (off of the Blue Ridge Parkway).
// Wider trail, so it feels less congested.
// Moderate trail. 1.5 miles round-trip, or you can continue on the Art Loeb trail for a few more miles.
// Known for the pine tree forests, grassy hills, and beautiful views.
// One of the most popular locations in Asheville area because of its close proximity to the city (40 minutes from Asheville).
// Attracts many tourists and locals, so the location is not as private as other trails.
// Relatively easy trail for hiking with a moderate climb. 1.4 miles round-trip.
// Known for the epic sunsets, insane fog, and craggy trees.
Please note that the park service has become more strict with keeping visitors on the trail to protect the fragile plant life that grows on the rocks. Please help this effort by not climbing over the rock wall at the top!
// About 30-40 minutes from town.
// A moderate to difficult 2.3 mile hike. The trail steadily climbs to the top, but it is an easy return to the parking lot.
// If you can make it on this trail when the Mountain Laurel bloom (mid-June), it is heaven. There are several spots where they form a tunnel, and the effect is stunning.
// The view from the top is beautiful, but the ugly old tower kind of ruins it. I still wanted to mention the trail because the ascent is so lovely.
Roan Mountain (Carver’s Gap)
// About 1.5 hours from Asheville.
// Because of the altitude, it can be very cold in the early spring + late fall. Open year-round.
// Moderate trail. About 1.5 miles to the first summit.
// Known for the lovely fields, pine tree forests, and stunning views.
// Close to Blowing Rock. About 1.5 hours from Asheville.
// Moderate trail. About a mile to the first overlook but can continue on to the top of the trail for another .5 mile or so.
// Known for the 300º views.
// Another popular tourist trail but for good reason. The views along the trail are absolutely stunning. In the summer the rhododendron are everywhere.
// The trailhead is just under an hour from town.
// The trail splits about .25 mile in. You can fork right and go to the Lower Falls (less than a mile) or left to head to the Upper Falls (3.2 mi round-trip). The lower falls is typically busy, but it is still a beautiful spot to visit, especially if you are short on time or if you are hiking with kids.
// In Black Mountain, just over 30 minutes from town.
// Slightly over 2.5 miles roundtrip. Easily can shorten this trail, as there are several waterfalls along the way.
// The first 3/4 of the way is very mild-moderate. The last bit is a scramble. We take Kitt and Poa often, but we never make it to the end because of that last section of trail.
// Heavily wooded trail that follows the river with waterfalls along the way.
Skinny Dip Falls
// 45 mins from Asheville. About a mile out and back.
// This is a super easy trail with a waterfall to finish. It’s a popular tourist trail, and you will probably find people swimming in the river during the summer.
// This trail is located on the edge of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, about an hour from Asheville.
// While the trail continues to Mouse Creek Falls, you can stop at Midnight Hole 1.5 miles in. It’s a steady ascent from the parking lot. I did this trail with a friend and four kids under the age of five, and we barely made it to the first falls.
// I recommend hiking early in the morning, as this swimming hole becomes incredibly busy later in the day.