The North Carolina Mountains are a hidden east coast treasure. In these mountain lies so many stunning views, magical waterfalls, and plenty of hiking trails that are perfect for anyone in the family!
Linville Falls is one of my favorite places to hike in North Carolina! These falls are the most popular within the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it’s easy to see why. There a few different trails that take you to different viewpoints of the falls. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to swim in the falls at any point, but you can still get stunning views from several places along the trails. The Visitor’s Center can be found at mile marker 316 along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Milepost 316.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Chimney Rock State Park is another personal favorite of mine! There are plenty of different hiking trails within the park, and all of the views are amazing! The most popular view is that from the Chimney Rock itself. At the top of the Chimney is a large American Flag with views overlooking Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. You can hike up to the very top via the Outcroppings trail or take the elevator to the base of the last couple flights of stairs.
431 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC 28720
Looking Glass Rock & Falls
Looking Glass Rock boasts stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The main trail runs 6.5 miles round trip and climbs 1,700 ft in just over 3 miles to the top. After your hike, Looking Glass Falls is a great place to cool off. The falls are made up of a 60 foot waterfall that collects into a small reservoir at the bottom. It has quickly become a very popular swimming hole in the warmer months.
National Forest 475 Rd, Brevard, NC 28712
This out and back trail in Tuckasegee, NC is a mile and a half total trail that leads directly to these beautiful falls. Don’t let the short mile and a half fool you, the hike is more challenging than it seems. There are also deep, secret swimming areas at the top and bottom of the falls. Paradise falls are tucked deep away within the gorge so it may prove difficult to find, but well worth the adventure. The best views of it are from the base of the falls.
12296 NC-281, Tuckasegee, NC 28783
The Rough Ridge hike is a short hike up to the summit, which provides a boardwalk with incredible views of the mountains, including Grandfather Mountain and the Linn Cove Viaduct. There are even some large bolders that are perfect for relaxing after your hike. This hike is part of a larger 13 mile hike, Tanawha Trail. Due to conservation efforts, pets are not allowed on this part of the trial.
Parking Area: Milepost 302.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
In early summer, the Crabtree Falls trails fill with wild flowers, making the already enjoyable hike even more so. There are two different trails to get you to the falls, an easier 3 mile out and back hike or a more difficult 3.5 mile loop. Both will give you stunning views of the woodland nature as well as the 70 ft waterfall!
Milepost 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Craggy Pinnacle & Gardens
Just shy of one mile, the Craggy Pinnacle Trail is suitable for all skill levels and takes you through beautiful wild flowers. In the late spring into summer, the rhododendron’s are in full bloom and cover the area, making Craggy Gardens known for this bloom. There are a few different trails that are accessible from the visitor’s center. Find more information and the map here.
Milepost 364 (pinnacle trail) and 364.5 (visitor center and trails) on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Sam Knob Trail
This 2.5 mile out and back trail sits in the Pisgah National Forest and features a waterfall and incredible views. The trailhead starts at the end of the Black Balsam Knob Road and summits the mountain at 1.3 miles. If you want more adventure after complteining this trail, there are several hike’s nearby! These include Graveyard Fields at milepost 418, Skinny Dip Falls at milepost 417 and Devil’s Courthouse at milepost 422.
Milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Dry Falls trail is short and kid friendly, but nonetheless stunning. On this quarter mile hike walks behind a 65 foot waterfall on the Cullasaja River. The Dry falls trail wakes you through a scenic forest that holds many different views of this incredible waterfall. The rocks around the waterfall and on the trail can get very slick, and the water moves fast, so be extra careful as it can be extremely dangerous!
US Hwy 64 (GPS 35.068367, -83.238500 // N35 04.102 W83 14.310
High Falls & Triple Falls
High Falls is a 150 foot waterfall in DuPont State Recreational Forest. The High Falls trail itself is a bit over a mile, but connects to the High Falls Loop that takes you to see Triple Falls as well. The main loop trail connects to Triple Falls Trail that leads toward Hooker Falls. At the base of High Falls, if the water is not too high, you can go rock hopping to get a more up close view of the falls! The majority of this connection of trails is suitable for bikes, horses and hikes.
1300 Staton Road – Cedar Mountain, NC 28718
Grandfather Mountain State Park is a fan favorite for North Carolinians. There is so much to do within the park that includes hiking, wildlife habitats, a nature museum, and more. One of the top attractions within the state park is the mile-high swinging bridge. This bridge is the highest suspension bridge in America and is 228 feet across. If you can stomach the hight, you can see incredible views of the Linville peak from the bridge. In addition to the bridge, there are a ton of hiking trails! If you just want to hike, you can avoid the entrance fees by entering trails at two specific off-site trailheads (more info here). A trip to Grandfather Mountain is never complete without visiting the wildlife habitats to see the bears, bald eagles, and more wildlife in their natural habitat!
2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Rainbow Falls & Turtleback Falls
Rainbow Falls is another 150 ft waterfall, that especially after rainy weather, can show a fabulous rainbow! To reach the Rainbow Falls, you’ll take a mile and a half hike from the Grassy Ridge Parking area in Gorges State Park. The falls can be seen from all angles and once you reach the Rainbow Falls, you can continue on the trail up to Turtleback Falls. To get all the way to Turtleback Falls, it’s 3.5 mile roundtrip. Although not prohibited, swimming at the base of Turtleback Falls is not advised as it can be extremely dangerous.
976 Grassy Ridge Rd, Sapphire, NC 28774
This hike is one of, if not the most popular trail on the Appalachian Trail. Rather than being full of trees Max Patch is a grassy summit full of wildflowers, wild blackberries, and more! The hike itself is a moderate almost 2 miles loop that takes you up to the grassy summit. It is also a great place to bring a blanket and have a picnic in the luscious grass overlooking the mountains. The rolling hills turn into mountains and on a clear day you can see Mount Mitchell and other notable peaks.
Max Patch Rd, Hot Springs, NC 28743
Stone Mountain State Park has over 16 miles of trails and over 20 miles of designated trout waters across 14,000 acres of land. The top trails within the par is the Stone Mountain Loop Trail, Wolf Rock Trail, Lower Parking Lot to Stone Mountain Falls, Middle Falls and Lower Falls Trail, and so much more! They range in difficulty level, so there is something for everyone in the family
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak within the Appalachian Mountains. The Summit Trail hike will take you all the way up to the highest point, where you can see 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are also several other hiking trails within the state park for all to enjoy! Mount Mitchell State Park is free to visit and open 7 days a week, year round.
Milepost 355.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
South Mountains State Park
South Mountain State Park offers visitors almost 50 miles of trails that are available to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. In addition to the many trails available, you can access an 80 foot waterfall and mountain streams. The different trails very in length and difficulty, making it an enjoyable place for everyone! The scenery as you walk along the mountain creek towards to falls, or through the woods to a mountain summit, is absolutely amazing!
3001 South Mountain Park Ave.
Connelly Springs, NC 28612