What Are The Best Hiking Trails In North Carolina

Anyone looking for a great outdoor adventure should consider exploring the best hiking trails in North Carolina. From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks, there are plenty of stunning trails that offer something for every kind of hiker. But with so many options, it can be hard to decide which trail is right for you. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best hiking trails in North Carolina and what makes them special.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful trails in North Carolina. From winding mountain paths lined with wildflowers to peaceful lakeside views, these trails offer something for everyone. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just getting started, you’ll find something that suits your needs here. For a challenge, try out the Appalachian Trail or one of its many side trails; for a more leisurely outing, check out one of the many scenic lakeside trails around Lake James or Grandfather Mountain State Park.

For beach lovers, there’s no better place than the Outer Banks to enjoy a hike by the ocean. With miles of sandy beaches and towering sand dunes, this area offers an incredible variety of hikes suitable for all levels of experience. Whether you’re into long hikes along undeveloped beaches or short strolls on boardwalks over marshes and wetlands, there’s something here that will capture your interest and provide a unique outdoor experience like no other.

Overview Of Hiking In North Carolina

North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the United States. With its lush forests, rolling hills, and stunning mountain views, it’s no surprise that so many people come here to explore the great outdoors. From short day hikes to multi-day treks, there are plenty of options for hikers of all levels and interests. The state parks system offers a variety of scenic trails that pass through wooded areas, open meadows, and along rivers and streams. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stroll or an adrenaline-pumping adventure, North Carolina has something to offer.

The Appalachian Trail runs through North Carolina from east to west and is one of the most popular hikes in the state. Starting in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and ending on the Virginia border near Asheville, this 2-3 week journey features breathtaking views as well as challenging terrain. For those who want a shorter route, there are plenty of section hikes available that can be completed in two days or less.

For those wanting more solitude, backcountry camping is allowed throughout much of North Carolina’s wilderness areas with no permit required. This makes it easy to explore remote areas while still enjoying all the comforts of home. Whether you’re a beginner hiker or an experienced mountaineer, there’s something for everyone in North Carolina’s vast network of trails.

No matter your level of experience or fitness level, North Carolina has a trail that will suit your needs – whether you’re looking for a quick stroll or an adventurous trek into the wilderness. With its abundance of natural beauty and variety of trails to choose from, you’re sure to find something perfect for your next outdoor adventure!

Photo from: ashevilletrails.com

Popular Parks And Trails

North Carolina offers an abundance of hiking trails for all levels of hikers. From the Appalachian Trail to smaller state parks, there is something for everyone. Here are some popular parks and trails in North Carolina that are great for a day hike or extended backpacking trip.

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most well-known hikes in North Carolina. This 2,180 mile long trail runs through 14 states and is broken up into sections. In North Carolina, you can take part of the trail or do the entire thing, which passes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many people choose to hike sections of this trail because it’s so long and can be done over multiple days.

For shorter hikes within North Carolina, many people prefer Hanging Rock State Park located in Danbury. This park has more than 20 miles of trails with stunning views of the Sauratown Mountains and includes a cascading waterfall at one point on the trail. It’s not too difficult and makes for a great day hike if you don’t have enough time for a multi-day excursion.

The Uwharrie National Forest also provides plenty of opportunities for exploration with its variety of trails ranging from easy to moderate difficulty levels. There are several camping sites throughout the forest as well as some ruins from an old iron mine that make great photo ops along your journey. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll or more strenuous climb, Uwharrie National Forest has something for everyone!

Photo from: expertexplorers.com

Mount Mitchell Trail

The Mount Mitchell State Park Trail is one of the best hiking trails in North Carolina. This trail overlooks the Black Mountain Range and includes a stunning view of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern United States. The trail starts at an elevation of 2,000 feet and follows a 7-mile loop around the mountain. It’s a moderate to challenging hike, with some sections that are quite steep. The total ascent adds up to about 1,400 feet, so hikers should be aware of their physical limitations before setting out on this trail.

The scenery along this trail is truly breathtaking. Hikers will enjoy views of rolling hills, wildflowers and other plant life that thrive in this mountainous terrain. Wildlife is abundant here as well, including black bears and deer. It’s important that hikers stay on the marked trails to avoid encounters with these animals or any potential dangers they may pose.

A great benefit of hiking this trail is that it provides access to some of the most beautiful natural areas in North Carolina without having to travel too far from home. It’s also a popular spot for camping and picnicking due to its close proximity to Asheville and Charlotte. Whether you’re looking for a scenic day trip or an extended backpacking adventure, the Mount Mitchell Trail has something for everyone!

Photo from: romanticasheville.com

Mountains-To-Sea Trail

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is another of the best hiking trails in North Carolina. This trail runs from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks, spanning more than 900 miles. Along the way, hikers will experience a huge variety of landscapes, from mountains and forests to coastal wetlands. The trail is divided into sections, some of which are quite long, so it is possible to spend several days or even weeks exploring this incredible natural wonderland.

Hikers should plan their trip carefully when tackling the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Some sections require advanced skills and physical conditioning due to steep grades and rough terrain. There are also plenty of opportunities for camping along the way, as well as access points with amenities like water sources and restrooms. It’s important to be prepared with the necessary gear and supplies before beginning the journey.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail offers an unforgettable experience that enables hikers to explore some of North Carolina’s most breathtaking scenery. Every step along this long path brings something new – a waterfall in a mountain gorge, a tranquil lake reflecting its surroundings, or a beach at sunset – making it an ideal choice for those seeking adventure and exploration in nature.

Photo from: ashevilletrails.com

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the best hiking trails in North Carolina. Spanning nearly 2,200 miles and stretching through 14 states, this iconic trail offers stunning views and a plethora of outdoor activities for hikers of all skill levels. In North Carolina, the trail passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the state, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Mount Mitchell State Park. Along the way, hikers can expect to see rolling hills, dense forests, waterfalls and panoramic views from high ridges.

In addition to its scenic beauty, the Appalachian Trail provides plenty of opportunities for adventure. There are several established campsites along the route that provide a great place to rest after a long day’s hike. For those looking for more adventure, there are plenty of challenging peaks to summit or side trips to take. Many sections of the trail also offer chances to spot wildlife like deer, black bears and wild turkeys.

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail is an unforgettable experience that will stay with you forever. No matter how many miles you tackle or how many peaks you summit, it’s sure to be an incredible journey full of natural beauty and lasting memories.

Photo from: visitnc.com

Uwharrie National Forest

Moving on from the Appalachian Trail, another great hiking trail in North Carolina is the Uwharrie National Forest. This stunning forest offers some of the best views in the state, with miles of trails that are perfect for hikers of all skill levels. The Uwharrie National Forest covers over 50,000 acres and features plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, hunting and more.

The Uwharrie National Forest is home to some of the oldest mountains east of the Mississippi River. It’s full of beautiful landscapes that range from mountains to wetlands and its unique terrain makes it an ideal destination for hikers. There are several trails within the forest that provide scenic vistas, waterfalls and wildlife viewing opportunities. The most popular hiking trails are the Dutchman’s Creek Trail, which is 10 miles long; Uwharrie Loop Trail, which is 20 miles long; and Badin Lake Trail, which is 8 miles long. All three trails offer various levels of difficulty so hikers can find a trail that suits their level of fitness.

Hiking in Uwharrie National Forest can be a rewarding experience for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore North Carolina’s diverse beauty. With its variety of terrain and breathtaking views, it’s no wonder why this forest attracts so many visitors each year. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced hiker, you’re sure to find something special while exploring this stunning natural area.

Photo from: ashevilletrails.com

Eno River State Park

Eno River State Park is a great spot for hikers in North Carolina. It’s located just outside of Durham and offers over 25 miles of trails for exploring. The trails range from easy to moderate, so there’s something for every level of hiker. The Eno River itself is also a great spot for paddlers looking to explore the area. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, Eno River State Park has something to offer everyone.

The park is full of scenic views and wildlife, making it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Along with its many trails, the park also features several educational programs and guided hikes led by experienced rangers. From bird watching to stargazing, these rangers can help make your experience even more enjoyable and informative.

Eno River State Park is a great option for hikers in North Carolina looking for an adventure in nature. With its diverse array of trails, educational programs, and natural beauty, this park is sure to provide an unforgettable experience. So if you’ve been looking for a peaceful hike in nature that still provides plenty of excitement, look no further than Eno River State Park!

Photo from: tripadvisory.com

Raven Rock State Park

Raven Rock State Park is one of the best hiking trails in North Carolina. It’s located in Harnett County, just south of the city of Lillington and features a variety of trails ranging from easy to difficult. The six-mile Raven Rock Loop Trail is one of the park’s most popular hikes, offering spectacular views and plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. The trail follows the Cape Fear River, which provides a tranquil backdrop as you make your way through the woods. There are also several smaller trails that provide access to remote areas not accessible by car or other means.

For those looking for more challenging terrain, there are plenty of options. The Rock Castle Creek Trail is a two-mile loop with steep inclines and declines that will give experienced hikers a good workout. Or take on the 5 mile long Gully Creek loop trail, which travels along a ridge line and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

Whichever trail you choose to explore in Raven Rock State Park, you’re sure to be rewarded with stunning views and an enjoyable hike. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or something more strenuous, this park has something for everyone and is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

Photo from: grandfather.com

Grandfather Mountain State Park

Grandfather Mountain State Park is one of the best hiking trails in North Carolina. Located in Linville, North Carolina, it’s known for its beautiful views and challenging hikes. The park has a variety of trails to choose from, ranging from easy trails suitable for families and beginners to more difficult trails that are perfect for experienced hikers. Whatever type of hike you’re looking for, you’ll find something that fits your needs at Grandfather Mountain State Park.

The most popular trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park is the Profile Trail, which takes hikers around the mountain and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. This trail can be completed in a single day and includes gentle climbs as well as steep cliffs and rock scrambles. It’s also home to some unique rock formations that make it a great place for photography or just taking in the sights.

The park is also home to several other trails that offer different levels of difficulty and length. Whether you’re looking for a short, easy walk or a long, challenging trek, there’s something here for everyone. For those who want to camp overnight in the park, there are plenty of campsites available throughout the year.

No matter what type of hike you’re looking for, Grandfather Mountain State Park is sure to have something perfect for you. With its breathtaking scenery and wide range of activities available, this park is sure to provide an unforgettable experience!

Photo from: hikewnc.info

Other Recommended Trails

Aside from Grandfather Mountain State Park, there are other great hiking trails in North Carolina. One of the most popular is the Appalachian Trail, which spans 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine. This trail is known for its stunning views and challenging terrain. It passes through some of the most beautiful areas in North Carolina, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Nantahala National Forest.

Another impressive trail to explore is the Uwharrie National Recreation Trail. This 20-mile route takes hikers through the Uwharrie Mountains, where they can find spectacular views of lakes and rivers. Along the way, hikers will pass by old homesteads, cemeteries, and abandoned mines. The trail also features a variety of wildlife such as black bears, deer, turkeys, and more.

For those looking for a shorter hike with less challenging terrain, there are plenty of day hikes available in North Carolina’s state parks and forests. Some of the best include Crowders Mountain State Park near Charlotte; Hanging Rock State Park near Winston-Salem; Mount Mitchell State Park near Asheville; and Chimney Rock State Park near Lake Lure. No matter what kind of hike you’re looking for, you’ll find something that suits your needs in North Carolina’s vast array of trails.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hiking in North Carolina is a great way to spend time outdoors and explore the beauty of the state. But deciding when is the best time to go hiking can be tricky. It all depends on the type of terrain you want to traverse, the weather conditions, and your personal preference. In this article, we’ll look at some of the factors that should be considered when planning a hiking trip in North Carolina.

The temperature in North Carolina can vary greatly depending on what season it is. During the winter months, temperatures can drop below freezing, making it difficult for hikers to enjoy their journey safely. Spring and fall are generally milder and more comfortable for outdoor activities like hiking. Summer can also be pleasant but there’s usually more humidity, rain, and heat which can make it difficult for hikers without proper hydration and protection from the elements.

When considering terrain for a hike in North Carolina, the options are just about endless with mountains, forests, beaches all within reach. If you prefer an easy hike through open fields or along flat trails near rivers and streams then consider visiting during spring or fall when temperatures aren’t too hot. For those looking for a more strenuous experience with rocky paths leading up mountain peaks then summer may be preferable as snow will have melted away by this point allowing access to higher altitudes.

No matter what time of year you choose to hike in North Carolina you’re sure to find something that suits your needs and interests. With so many different landscapes available there is no shortage of opportunities to explore the great outdoors while enjoying fresh air, breathtaking views and plenty of solitude – something that every hiker should experience at least once!

When it comes to hiking in North Carolina, there are a few things to consider when it comes to permits and fees. The state of North Carolina requires certain permits or fees in order to hike certain trails, and these requirements vary depending on the trail you plan on taking. Knowing what type of permit or fee is required for your particular trail can help ensure you stay within the law and have a great time out on the trails.

In North Carolina, there are two types of permits that may be required for hiking: a recreational use permit and an access permit. A recreational use permit is generally required for public lands that are managed by the state forestry service. This type of permit allows hikers to use state-managed land for recreational activities such as camping, fishing, and hunting. An access permit is usually necessary if you plan on accessing private property owned by another party in order to reach a hiking trail.

When it comes to fees associated with hiking in North Carolina, they can vary depending on where you’re going. For instance, some parks require an entrance or parking fee while others may charge a fee for overnight camping or backpacking trips. Additionally, many trails impose fees for specific activities such as horseback riding or mountain biking. It’s always best to check with your local forest service office before heading out to make sure you know what kind of fees might apply to your activity before beginning your hike.

No matter where you go or what type of activity you plan on doing while hiking in North Carolina, it’s important that you understand all potential requirements beforehand so that your experience goes smoothly and safely. Be sure to do your research ahead of time so that you can enjoy all the great outdoor opportunities the Tar Heel State has to offer without any problems along the way!

Hiking in North Carolina state parks can be a great way to explore the outdoors, but it’s important to be aware of the rules that are in place. Whether you’re planning a day hike or an overnight camping trip, understanding the regulations and restrictions can help make your experience a pleasant one.

The first thing to note is that anyone who plans to enter a North Carolina state park must have either a daily pass or an annual pass. The daily passes can be purchased at the park entrance, while annual passes must be obtained online or at certain select locations. Additionally, all campers must register with the park office before setting up their site.

When it comes to rules for hiking, there are a few key guidelines that should be followed. First, no pets are allowed on trails unless they are leashed and under control at all times. Secondly, people should remain on marked trails whenever possible and refrain from cutting through switchbacks or shortcuts. It’s also important to stay out of closed areas and not pick any plants or flowers from the trails. Finally, hikers should always leave the area as they found it by taking out what they brought in and by packing out their trash instead of leaving it behind for someone else to clean up.

Hiking in North Carolina state parks is a great way to enjoy nature while also protecting its beauty and integrity for future generations. Following these simple rules will help ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience outdoors while preserving our natural resources for years to come.

When it comes to hiking in North Carolina, there are certain restrictions on the type of gear allowed on these trails. Knowing what is and isn’t allowed can help hikers stay safe and enjoy their experience.

Generally speaking, North Carolina state parks allow hikers to bring along basic items that won’t cause harm or disruption to the environment. This includes things like a backpack with small snacks, first aid kit, camera, water bottle and raincoat.

However, visitors should be aware that North Carolina state parks have rules prohibiting some items from being taken onto the trails. For instance, weapons such as firearms are not permitted even if you possess a valid license for them. Additionally, alcohol and illegal substances are strictly prohibited when hiking in the state parks.

Hikers should also be mindful that they cannot use motorized vehicles or drones while on the trails as well as campfires outside designated camping areas unless otherwise noted in certain areas. It is important to read up on any specific regulations related to the park before beginning your hike so that you can have an enjoyable time while respecting the rules of the park.

Hiking in North Carolina can be a great way to experience nature and get some fresh air, but it is important to take safety precautions. Knowing what to expect on the trails and what kind of gear is allowed can help ensure that your hike is safe and enjoyable. This article will address the question of what safety precautions should be taken when hiking in North Carolina.

First and foremost, hikers should always check weather conditions before heading out on the trails. North Carolina weather can be unpredictable, so checking for updates before setting out is essential. It’s also important to pay attention to trail conditions such as terrain or potential hazards like slippery surfaces, water crossings, and wildlife encounters. Wearing proper footwear and clothing suited for the conditions is also essential for a safe hiking trip.

Additionally, hikers should bring along plenty of supplies such as food, water, first-aid kits, maps, flashlights or headlamps for nighttime hikes, and any other items needed for the particular trail or duration of the outing. Cell phone service may not be available in some parts of North Carolina’s wilderness areas so it’s best to come prepared with enough supplies if you plan on staying out all day or overnight. Finally, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return in case an emergency arises while you’re on the trail.

It’s important to remember that even experienced hikers should employ caution when planning a hike in North Carolina due to its unpredictable terrain and wildlife population. By following these simple steps before venturing out onto the trails you can ensure that your time spent outdoors will be both enjoyable and safe!


Hiking in North Carolina is a great way to explore the outdoors and get some exercise. With its many trails and state parks, it’s easy to find a great place to go for a hike. Whether you’re looking for a short day trip or an extended backpacking adventure, there are plenty of options to choose from that suit any skill level. No matter when you decide to go, though, always make sure you have the right permits and equipment, follow the rules of the park you’re visiting, and take necessary safety precautions. With proper preparation, your time spent hiking in North Carolina can be an enjoyable and memorable experience. So grab your gear and hit the trail – there’s no better way to enjoy this beautiful region!

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