Best Backpacking in North Carolina

This list represents the most popular backpacking in North Carolina. Use this list to plan your next North Carolina backpacking trip. Select a state and/or activity below to find even more top trails.

Learn more about Top Trails

#1. 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 cli…
From the guidebook "Day & Overnight Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Fontana Dam, NC - Backpacking, Hiking - 15.7 miles Best Trail in nc - Click to view all (About Top Trails)
Published by Menasha Ridge Press

#2. Black Mountain Crest Trail


Once you’re on the Crest Trail, it’s a grueling yo-yo of a climb along the rocky spine of the Black Mountains. The first mile, to Mount Craig, is comparatively easy and if you’re just in it for the gl…
From the guidebook "100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina"
Black Mountain, NC - Backpacking, Hiking - 13 miles
Published by The Mountaineers Books

#3. Gregory Bald via Twentymile


Gregory Bald is among the finest destinations in the Smokies backcountry. For many hikers, it is the finest. Most people access the bald from the Tennessee side by taking either Gregory Ridge Trail or…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Fontana Dam, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 15.5 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#4. Silers Bald and Forney Creek


It would be hard to pick a better two-night backpack than this one. You get to sleep in a backcountry shelter (everyone needs to experience it at least once) and at a backcountry campsite. You have go…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Bryson City, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 20.4 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#5. Charlies Bunion and Bradley Fork


This is a terrific three-day hike, encompassing much of what the Smokies have to offer. You spend half the time hiking on the high-elevation crest and the other half along headwater streams and throug…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Bryson City, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 27.3 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#6. Hazel Creek and Bone Valley


All of this hike is on old roads, and the first 5 miles or so aren’t much different from walking any of the drivable dirt roads in the park. If you’re looking to hike a true trail, this hike will dis…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Fontana Dam, NC - Backpacking, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 15.4 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#7. Eagle Creek, Spence Field, and Hazel Creek


For those looking for a kick-butt Smokies adventure, here’s your hike. Probably the most strenuous hike in this guidebook, with big elevation gains and enough creek wades to make your feet stay pruny…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Fontana Dam, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 27.9 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#8. Bradley Fork and Chasteen Creek


This is a grand backpacking trip, featuring much of what makes the Smokies famous. It offers several miles of scenic creek-side hiking, old-growth forests, abundant spring wildflowers, a rare shingle…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Cherokee, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 17.2 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#9. Shuckstack


Shuckstack Tower is an old fire tower, one of few remaining in the park. At its base are the old tower-keeper’s cistern and the foundation and chimney of the cabin. For such a difficult and remote hik…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Fontana Dam, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 11.9 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#10. Forney Ridge and Noland Divide


This trip encompasses what most people look for in a Smokies adventure: high-elevation views, old-growth forests, cascading streams, wildflowers, and a challenging hike. On the latter point, if you’re…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Bryson City, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 18.4 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#11. Mingus Mill and Newton Bald


Don’t worry about all the people you see in the trailhead parking lot. They’re here to see Mingus Mill, a restored late nineteenth-century gristmill. You’ll have the hike to yourself. You can explore…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Bryson City, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding - 11.4 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#12. Indian Creek and Sunkota Ridge


Start up the gravel road that continues from the road turnaround. In 0.2 mile you pass Tom Branch Falls on the right, dropping directly into Deep Creek on the opposite side. Only when the leaves are…
From the guidebook "Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park"
Bryson City, NC - Backpacking, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking - 11.6 miles
Published by Falcon Guides

#13. Benton MacKaye Trail


Rapidly becoming a “classic trail,” the 290 miles of the Benton MacKaye are a bit much for a “classic hike,” yet hikers should know this relatively young trail is here and explore their own “classic”…
From the guidebook "100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina"
Waterville, NC - Backpacking, Hiking - 290 miles
Published by The Mountaineers Books

#14. Mayberry: Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain


On this day trip, you’re headed to Mayberry. The fictional TV town was fashioned after Mount Airy for The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith grew up in a small home here, and although the actor now lives in…
From the guidebook "Day Trips from Raleigh-Durham"
Mount Airy, NC - Backpacking, Hiking
Published by The Globe Pequot Press

#15. Moravian Village Tour: Winston-Salem


In 1874, Richard Joshua Reynolds arrived here on horseback from Virginia to start a tobacco factory, which later became the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. But more than a century before the tobacco b…
From the guidebook "Day Trips from Raleigh-Durham"
Winston-Salem, NC - Backpacking, Hiking
Published by The Globe Pequot Press

#16. Crossroads of Furniture and Barbecue: Jamestown, High Point, Thomasville, and Lexington


Southeast of Greensboro, High Point, Thomasville, and Lexington beckon the day visitor with their superlatives. What do we mean? Well, High Point claims the world’s largest chest of drawers. Standing…
From the guidebook "Day Trips from Raleigh-Durham"
Thomasville, NC - Backpacking, Hiking
Published by The Globe Pequot Press

#17. The Southern Part of Heaven: Chapel Hill


The highway west takes you to the town that locals call the “Southern Part of Heaven.” Although Wolfpack and Blue Devil fans may beg to differ, a day trip to this destination gives you the chance to v…
From the guidebook "Day Trips from Raleigh-Durham"
Chapel Hill, NC - Backpacking, Hiking
Published by The Globe Pequot Press

#18. Island Hopping: Southport and Bald Head Island


Situated amid graceful live oaks, Southport garnered praise from Rand McNally as one of the best places to retire. For visitors, Southport oozes coastal charm and boasts a rich maritime history. While…
From the guidebook "Day Trips from Raleigh-Durham"
Southport, NC - Backpacking, Hiking
Published by The Globe Pequot Press

#19. Fun in the Sun: Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach


This day trip, a straight shot from Raleigh-Durham east, mixes history, Hollywood, beaches, amusements, and great food. The area offers riverboat tours, plantation visits, and beaches only minutes awa…
From the guidebook "Day Trips from Raleigh-Durham"
Wilmington, NC - Backpacking, Hiking
Published by The Globe Pequot Press

#20. On Safari: Level Cross, Asheboro, and Seagrove


This day trip could be called a transportation day trip, an animal lover’s day trip, or a pottery tour. That’s because the three towns you will visit on this outing from Raleigh-Durham give you plenty…
From the guidebook "Day Trips from Raleigh-Durham"
Asheboro, NC - Backpacking, Hiking
Published by The Globe Pequot Press