10 Asheville Hikes with Epic Mountain Views


While there are thousands of miles of hiking trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains thanks to our national and state parks and forests, here are our ten top mountaintop hikes with the best panoramic views near Asheville, North Carolina. And they are all free to enjoy! Take a picnic and allow time to enjoy the view.

Mt. Mitchell: After enjoying the 360-degree vistas from the observation deck atop the highest peak in eastern USA, hike the Deep Gap Trail to four more summits over 6,000 feet, including Mt. Craig just a mile away.

Craggy Pinnacle: A 1.5-mile roundtrip hike offers spectacular 360-degree panoramic views and a great spot for a picnic along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Max Patch: Hike the 2.4-mile loop around the grassy summit or continue further on the Appalachian Trail in Pisgah National Forest.

Black Balsam Knob: Hike across multiple mountain balds near the Blue Ridge Parkway. These treeless mountaintops in the Pisgah National Forest offer sweeping views all along the trail.

Looking Glass Rock: Hike this iconic rock face summit with a 1,700-foot elevation gain in the 6.5-mile roundtrip trail.

Whiteside Mountain: This two-mile hike in the Nantahala National Forest near Cashiers takes you on top of sheer 750-foot high cliffs with outstanding views.

Table Rock Mountain: Enjoy spectacular views of Linville Gorge from atop this distinctive summit. This 2.2-mile hike can be combined with a 1.5-mile trek to the top of nearby Hawksbill Mountain.

Roan Mountain: Hike through summer Catawba rhododendron and along a lofty, grassy ridge for five miles along the Appalachian Trail.

Mt. LeConte: The restored Alum Cave Trail is the most hiked in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’ll see why with interesting geological features and stunning views along the 11-mile roundtrip hike that climbs 2,853 feet in elevation.

Cold Mountain: This strenuous 10.6-mile roundtrip hike takes you to the summit of the mountain made famous by the novel and movie, in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area of the Pisgah National Forest.

All of these hikes were selected by the readers of RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide. For info on these and others, go to their Top 75 Hikes near Asheville.


Fall Events at Chimney Rock Park

Chimney Rock FallFall is definitely a great time to explore Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park! In addition to the beautiful fall colors that peak in late October into early November, they have some very fun events. Not to mention, soak in the spectacular 75-mile views from atop the Chimney and hike to the 400-foot Hickory Nut Falls. Speaking of hiking, they have guided hikes every Saturday. After a day of adventure, relax and enjoy craft beer and burgers along with live, local music at Beats, Burgers & Brews at the Old Rock Café, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Annual Passholder Fall Sunrise Breakfast
Saturday, October 4; gate opens 6:15am for 7:25am sunrise
Few sights in Western North Carolina are as spectacular as watching the sunrise over Lake Lure! The Park opens early for Annual Passholders with a continental breakfast and the best seats in the area. To RSVP, please call 800-277-9611 by October 1. If you are not a Passholder, you can become one for this event.
Cost: $5 Annual Passholder, free for kids under 5. Advance registration required.

Rockin’ Naturalist Guided Hikes
Saturdays, October 4, 11, 18, 25; 11am-noon
Explore Chimney Rock’s trails with a park naturalist or state park ranger to learn about plants, wildlife, geology and more along the way. Or, head “off the beaten path” to discover less-traveled areas of the park. Topics vary. Limited to the first 15 people.
Cost: Included with Park admission

Grady’s Wildlife of WNC
Every Saturday & Sunday in October; 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26; 2pm
Meet some of Grady the Groundhog’s live woodland friends or possibly our birds of prey, a Red-tailed hawk and Great Horned Owl. Their resident education animals are the stars of the program, which explains each animal’s role in our ecosystem, how they came to live at the park and lessons on what we can do to help protect wildlife. Held in the Outdoor Classroom on the Meadows, weather permitting.
Cost: Included with Park admission

Naturalist Niche Series: Fall Big Basswood Hike
Saturday, October 11; 9:30-11:30am
Up and down a bit of slope, between a few boulders and shrubs and weaving beneath towering fall foliage, hike into a hidden forest cove. Renowned naturalist Ron Lance will guide you to where the state’s largest basswood tree lives, with a circumference of more than 13 feet! Several other large trees are its neighbors and wildflowers carpet the forest floor. This two-hour-plus hike is moderately-strenuous and not suitable for children under 12. Limited to 15; advance registration required.
Cost: $22 Adult (includes Park admission), $10 Annual Passholder

Naturalist Niche Series: Fall Ridge Hike with Ron Lance
Saturday, October 25; 9:30-12:30pm
Soak up fall colors on the most scenic hike all year long at the park! Venture high atop the ridges 1,500 feet above the valley floor, and enjoy dramatic views surrounded in a sea of fall leaf colors. Led by renowned naturalist Ron Lance, this three-hour hike is moderately strenuous. Limited to 15; advance registration required.
Cost: $22 Adult (includes Park admission), $10 Annual Passholder

For more information, see our Chimney Rock Park Guide and our NC Mountain Fall Color Guide.

Best NC Waterfalls for Fall Color near Asheville

NC Waterfalls with Fall Color

With hundreds of North Carolina mountain waterfalls in the Asheville area, how do you choose which ones to see this fall? This year, the peak fall color for most of these waterfalls will come in mid October. See our NC Mountain Fall Foliage Guide for more details. Here are our top 20 waterfalls to enjoy in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, including along the Blue Ridge Parkway:

  • High Falls & Triple Falls: A three-mile hike takes you to three waterfalls in DuPont State Forest. High Falls is a powerful 150-foot drop and Triple Falls was a film location for The Hunger Games. Nearby is Hooker Falls.
  • Looking Glass Falls: This beautiful 60-foot waterfall is located on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway between Brevard and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Linville Falls: The most photographed waterfall in North Carolina is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take a 1.6-mile hike to enjoy a variety of views of the falls and Linville Gorge.
  • Dry Falls: Walk behind this waterfall, located near Highlands. Nearby, drive behind Bridal Veil Falls.
  • Sliding Rock: While this is a popular swimming spot in the summer, it’s a beautiful fall setting too with a 60-foot cascade in Pisgah National Forest, near Looking Glass Falls.
  • Graveyard Fields: The popular meadow on the Blue Ridge Parkway features hiking trails to two waterfalls. Second Falls is just 1/3 mile from the parking area.
  • Rainbow Falls: This 150-foot waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest is accessed via a hiking trail from Gorges State Park.
  • Crabtree Falls: This beautiful 70-foot waterfall is along a 2.5-mile loop woodland hiking trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Upper Whitewater Falls: The highest waterfall east of the Rockies plunges 411 feet and is easily viewed via a short paved trail.
  • Skinny Dip FallsThese cascades on the Blue Ridge Parkway are a “best kept secret” for fall color hikes.
  • Pearson’s Falls: This 90-foot waterfall in a beautiful glen is located between Saluda and Tryon. It’s a must see if you are driving on I-26 to/from South Carolina.
  • Soco Falls: This twin waterfall is easy to miss along busy Highway 19 between Maggie Valley and Cherokee since there are no signs for the small parking area. A short walk takes you to an observation deck.
  • Deep Creek Waterfalls: See three waterfalls (Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City.
  • Mingo Falls: Located near Cherokee in the Great Smoky Mountains, this 200-foot waterfall is a short walk from the parking area.
  • Hickory Nut Falls: This 404-foot waterfall in Chimney Rock Park was featured in the movie, The Last of the Mohicans.
  • Catawba Falls: Hike 1.5 miles to the lower falls, a 100-foot cascade with best views in the winter months since leaves hide the top of the falls.

For details and other waterfalls, along with a waterfall tour map, go to www.romanticasheville.com/waterfalls.htm.

Top 10 Easy Day Asheville Hikes for the North Carolina Mountains

See the RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide’s Top 10 easy and FREE day hikes in the Asheville, North Carolina area. The surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains offer some “new” trails for 2009 that have reopened after improvements. We are very excited to check out the “new and improved” Gorges State Park and see the waterfalls again there. Mt. Mitchell just opened it’s new observation deck. And Craggy Gardens reopens after being closed last year due to repairs to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Point Lookout Trail is a new greenway perfect for biking or hiking. Other favorite hikes such a Max Patch and Dupont State Forest are included. See the Top 10 Hikes here: http://www.romanticasheville.com/top_10_hikes.htm