15 of the Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina

15 of the Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina

North Carolina is brimming with natural beauty, and while most people might immediately think of the Atlantic Coast as North Carolina’s best natural feature, there are actually plenty of options to explore here, including hiking trails!! With plenty of mountains, forests, and waterfalls to explore, North Carolina is a paradise for hikers. Read on to discover 15 of the best hiking trails in North Carolina!

Best Easy Hiking Trails in North Carolina

For those hoping to plan a hiking for the whole family or those just starting out, it’s best to choose easier trails that won’t put too much pressure on younger or older family members who may want to join them. Here are five easy trails to start your North Carolina hiking trip!

1. Hickory Nut Falls Trail, Chimney Rock If you have ever watched “The Last of the Mohicans”, you will recognize the beautiful waterfall at the end of this familiar trail. There are benches and other rest areas scattered along the Hickory Nut Falls Trail as you go, providing ample opportunity for you and your family to take a break if needed. The total hike is about 1.4 miles, so as long as you keep your pace and enjoy the ride, you should have no problem crossing this trail off your NC hiking bucket list!

2. Moor’s Wall Loop Trail ، Hanging Rock State Park

Moor’s Wall Loop Trail is another great option if you’re looking for an easier hike in North Carolina but want to start with more moderate hikes. While it’s not particularly difficult to hike, it’s about 4.7 miles long, so it would be an even longer hike. However, it’s just worth checking out Hanging Rock that this state park is named after!

3. Sendero de Crabtree Falls Circular, Blue Ridge Parkway

If you’re not ready to tackle Moor’s Wall but still want to challenge yourself a bit, Crabtree Falls is the perfect choice! The 2.5-mile Crabtree Falls Loop Trail is a happy intermediate between Hickory Nut Falls and Moor’s Wall: it’s longer than Hickory Nut and steeper in places, but still offers an amazing view of some truly amazing waterfalls. It is much shorter than the Moore’s Wall.

4. Vista de Irwin, Linville Falls

Erwin’s view leans toward the comfort side of the easy scale. At just 1.7 miles away, it’s a better option for those still building their walking ability, and offers plenty of value for your money – you’ll be able to stop and see Linville Falls from four different lookouts! Erwin’s View Trail will take you to Upper Falls, Chimney View, Gorge View, and of course, Erwin’s View. You won’t miss a single corner of this waterfall on your North Carolina hiking trail!

5. Tom Creek Falls

Just a mile round trip, the Toms Creek Falls Trail is our easiest hiking tour. This is ideal for hikers or hikers with young children or adults who may not be able to travel longer distances or climb steep hills. They have even built an observation deck, which makes viewing the waterfalls easier and safer for everyone!

Best Moderate Hiking Trails in North Carolina

Have you conquered the easier paths and are now looking to climb up the difficulty ladder? We have five medium difficulty tracks prepared for you!

1. Devil’s Court, Blue Ridge Parkway

Although Devil’s Courthouse is only a mile high, it is considered a moderate hike because the trail consists entirely of a steep incline. Because of this give and take, this is a good first step to go from easy to moderate. But be careful! According to Cherokee legend, a giant named Judaculla makes his home in this part of the mountains.

(Note that Devil’s Courthouse is also a nesting place for endangered peregrine falcons. Climbing the lookout wall is strictly prohibited, as it can cause these peregrine falcons to escape their nests. Stay on track not to disturb these beautiful birds!)

2. Jalen Fowles Trail

At just under two miles, the Glen Falls Trail is another short North Carolina hiking trail, but it makes up for this shortfall in length with steepness. It’s a steep trek up to the falls and all uphill on the way back, so come prepared for some intense climbing! But as with all North Carolina waterfalls, the views you’ll experience on this trail are worth the more intense trek.

3. Rainbow Falls, Pisgah National Forest

Rainbow Falls is 3 miles high and is considered moderate due to its steeper path and somewhat rugged terrain. The trail is mostly unpaved so make sure you are equipped with appropriate shoes for this height. Once you reach your destination, thanks to the viewing area next to the falls, you can enjoy this amazing 150ft waterfall from every angle! If you’re lucky, you can even catch a glimpse of the rainbows that gave this waterfall its name if the sun hits the spray properly.

4. Fields Cemetery, Blue Ridge Parkway

Another gem on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Graveyard Fields located about 3 miles away, will take you through beautiful fields of wildflowers, views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and even a few waterfalls. Although considered moderate, the trail is paved and there are restrooms along the trail, so this might be a good first step into a temperate hiking area if you’ve previously stuck with easier trails.

5. Pisgah Mountain, Pisgah National Forest

Last on the list of North Carolina’s temperate hiking trails, the Mount Pisgah Trail is a short but arduous trek; The powerful climb to the top does not stop, it consists of very difficult and rocky terrain. However, the views from the top are absolutely unbeatable, giving you an unparalleled view of the national forest below.

The Best Advanced Hiking Trails in North Carolina

Are you ready to truly prove yourself as a wanderer? Read on if you’re ready to take the toughest hiking trails available in North Carolina!

1. Mirror Rock, Pisgah National Forest

First on our list of advanced hiking trails in North Carolina is the Looking Glass Rock Trail in Pisgah National Forest! At 6.5 miles round trip, this is not a hike for the faint of heart, but the trail is clearly marked and the beauty of the drive is well worth it. When you reach the Upper Looking Glass Cliffs, you will be met with an expansive view of the mountain forest below. Just make sure you don’t get too close to the edge; It can be slippery!

2. Parque Dugton, Autopista Blue Ridge

Next is Dogton Park! Doughton Park actually consists of seven different trails, the most extreme of which are the Cedar Ridge and Bluff Ridge trails. Bluff Ridge is the steepest, but Cedar Ridge is the longest. Both rides offer stunning views of the forest, but Cedar Ridge leads to Grassy Gap Fire Road and Bluff Ridge leads to Basin Cove.

3. Bright Rock, Pisgah National Forest

Our next challenging trail to hike in North Carolina is Shining Rock! Climbing along Shining Rock Creek will take you 4.5 miles of trails to the top. Shining Rock earns its name, and you won’t be disappointed in the splendor of this part of Pisgah National Forest.

4. Grandfather’s Mountain, Cordillera Blue Ridge

Next on our list is Grandfather Mountain! The Grandfather Trail is only 2.4 miles long, but much of that is very challenging terrain to climb, which requires a bit more gear and caution. If you are an experienced hiker and are comfortable with a more serious challenge, this is a great place to test your resolve!

5. Harbor Creek Falls, Pisgah National Forest

Last but not least on our list of the best hiking trails in North Carolina is Harper Creek Falls. As with all of the other North Carolina waterfalls on this list, the beauty is worth it. At 8.5 miles, this is the tallest hike on our list and it’s not an easy climb. But fate won’t let you down, and no matter what, being able to brag about completing nearly ten miles of a challenging trail is quite an achievement!

gear to go

suitable shoes

No matter what level of North Carolina hiking you choose to participate in, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing the right footwear! Even simple hiking can result in sprained ankles or knees if you fall, and many of these trails lead to waterfalls, where the trails can become more slippery.

· water

Hiking in North Carolina can be hot and humid, so be sure to bring plenty of water! Staying hydrated is key when hiking, especially at heights where you may be more prone to motion sickness.

· Band aid

Always carry a first aid kit with you on your hiking trips! The last thing you want is to be injured in a forest or on a mountain and have no way to cure it.

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