Best Trails of North Carolina

This list represents the most popular trails in North Carolina (learn more about Top Trails). Use this list to plan your next North Carolina outdoor trip. Select a state and/or activity below to find even more top trails.

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#1. Mount Mitchell


Mt. Mitchell—the highest peak east of the Mississippi—is a crowning part of the Blue Ridge Parkway experience. The only motorized access to the mountain is from the Parkway, at Milepost 355.3, and the…
From the guidebook "Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway"
Asheville, NC - Hiking - 12 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#2. Chasteen Creek Loop


This loop travels watercourses and ridges of the Bradley Fork watershed. Leave Smokemont Campground and make your way up Bradley Fork, then turn up Chasteen Creek, where a waterfall awaits along a sid…
From the guidebook "Day & Overnight Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Cherokee Indian Reservation, NC - Hiking - 17.4 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#3. Uwharrie National Forest Trails


Uwharrie National Forest is an increasingly attractive “best kept secret” where state-designated Scenic Byways meander through the undulating remains of North America’s oldest mountain range. The stat…
From the guidebook "Hiking North Carolina"
Asheboro, NC - Hiking - 66.5 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#4. Black Mountain Campground


Black Mountain Campground has been around a long time. Over the years it has been well maintained. Now it is like an antique, treasured by families that have been returning to Black Mountain through t…
From the guidebook "The Best In Tent Camping: The Southern Appalachian & Smoky Mountains"
Burnsville, NC - Campgrounds Best Trail in NC - Click to view allBestCampgrounds Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#5. Mount Pisgah Area Trails


Driving the Parkway from Asheville to Mt. Pisgah is a humbling experience —especially if you stopped by Biltmore House and Gardens on the way through town. George W. Vanderbilt’s fascinating palatial…
From the guidebook "Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway"
Brevard, NC - Hiking - 6.4 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#6. Gregory Bald Overnight Loop


This hike combines the best that the high and low country have to offer. First, you'll travel up the Twentymile Trail past Twentymile Cascades to the Upper Flats streamside camp. Then an arduous climb…
From the guidebook "Day & Overnight Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Fontana Village, NC - Hiking - 15.7 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#7. Appalachian Trail: Clingmans Dome to Spence Field


This hike is a long, difficult, beautiful hike, and by the end, you will have your own definition of a southern Appalachian knob. The trail follows an easy descent for about 3 miles; then a short roc…
From the guidebook "Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Hikes in the Southern Appalachians"
Cades Cove, NC - Hiking - 22.1 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Stackpole Books

#8. Appalachian Trail in North Carolina


Each spring nearly 1,500 people hoist unbelievably heavy packs onto their backs and strain down a misty trail, intent on accomplishing the most difficult task of their lives: going the length of the A…
From the guidebook "Hiking North Carolina"
Bakersville, NC - Hiking - 318 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#9. Craggy Gardens Trails


How can names like Craggy Gardens, Craggy Dome, and Craggy Pinnacle not inspire hikers? Visible from all over northwest North Carolina, these barren crests offer awesome views. As the Blue Ridge Parkw…
From the guidebook "Hiking North Carolina"
Asheville, NC - Hiking - 9.6 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#10. Rocky Bluff Campground


While heading into the Rocky Bluff Recreation Area, I found it hard to believe there was a campground down there. The road dipped into very hilly terrain, with nary a flat spot to be found. But soon e…
From the guidebook "The Best In Tent Camping: The Southern Appalachian & Smoky Mountains"
Hot Springs, NC - Campgrounds Best Trail in NC - Click to view allBestCampgrounds Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#11. Shining Rock Wilderness Trails


Shining Rock—like the Craggy Mountains and Mount Mitchell just north of Asheville—is where the Parkway delivers some of the southern Appalachians’ most stunning scenery. The horizon peels back on an a…
From the guidebook "Hiking North Carolina"
Waynesville, NC - Hiking - 68.5 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#12. Shining Rock Wilderness


As you drive south out of Asheville and climb past Mt. Pisgah, the Shining Rock Wilderness can’t help but catch your attention. The horizon peels back on an almost Western scale, and meadow-covered m…
From the guidebook "Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway"
Brevard, NC - Hiking - 8.8 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#13. Linville Gorge Wilderness


A 12,002-acre tract of designated wilderness, Linville Gorge lies between Jonas Ridge to the east and Linville Mountain to the west. The Blue Ridge Parkway skirts the head of the gorge on the northwes…
From the guidebook "Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway"
Crossnore, NC - Hiking - 14 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#14. Appalachian Trail: Allen Gap to Devil Fork Gap


The northern half of this hike borders the Bald Mountain Ridge Scenic Area in the Cherokee National Forest, and the AT runs along a rugged, isolated crest. Outstanding views, masses of rhododendron a…
From the guidebook "Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Hikes in the Southern Appalachians"
Hot Springs, NC - Hiking - 20.2 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Stackpole Books

#15. Camping on Cape Hatteras National Seashore


Camping is the logical extension of any outdoor experience, and it’s the best way to get deeper into the nature of the Outer Banks. Sleeping on the soft barrier island sand, feeling the constant stick…
From the guidebook "Exploring Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores"
Buxton, NC - Campgrounds Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Falcon Publishing

#16. Lake Powhatan Campground


Fake Powhatan is a nicely developed, well-maintained recreation destination. While it is a great destination in its own right, being so close to Asheville adds the possibility of visiting tourist dest…
From the guidebook "The Best In Tent Camping: The Southern Appalachian & Smoky Mountains"
Asheville, NC - Campgrounds Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#17. Appalachian Trail: Carvers Gap to Roan High Bluff & Rhododendron Gardens


Roan Mountain is a place of mystery, legend, wild beauty, and superlatives. The largest of the southern Appalachian grassy balds, it also boasts one of the most beautiful displays of Catawba rhododen…
From the guidebook "Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Hikes in the Southern Appalachians"
Bakersville, NC - Hiking - 5.6 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Stackpole Books

#18. Yadkin River


The Yadkin River begins at an elevation above 3,600 feet near Blowing Rock, on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It flows southeast toward Lenoir, but near Patterson and Happy Valley it…
From the guidebook "Paddling Eastern North Carolina"
Wilkesboro, NC - Flatwater Paddling & Canoeing - 147.3 miles    Best Trail in NC - Click to view allBestFlatwater Paddling & Canoeing Trail - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Pocosin Press