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6 Great Places to Hike in Western North Carolina

Couple enjoying the views from Craggy Western North Carolina

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Hit The Trail

Now that the weather is warmer it is a great time for hiking! Hiking is a fun way to experience the beauty of the mountains. You will see spectacular views, breathe the fresh mountain air, and get some exercise, too.  Living in Avalon puts you so close to some great places to hike in Western North Carolina.

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway: There are two great waterfalls that you do not want to miss along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The 1st waterfall hike is Crabtree Falls (77.1 miles from Avalon). This hike has a woodland hiking trail that showcases wildflowers and has a 70 foot waterfall.  The 2nd waterfall hike is Soco Falls (15.1 miles from Avalon). This hike has a twin waterfall that is unique to the area and is sacred to the Cherokee. 
  2. Chimney Rock State Park: (55.1 miles from Avalon) This park is known for “The Rock,” as the locals call it, which is granite outcropping that looks like a giant chimney. Positioned above the famed Lake Lure you will recognize the park surroundings from movies filmed there, such as The Last of the Mohicans, Firestarter and the cult classic, Dirty Dancing. The views from Hickory Nut Falls are incredible and there are several hiking trails, including the Chimney Rock Trail, The Four Seasons Trail and the Woodland Adventures Trail. There is also a nature center and elevator access to Chimney Rock for those with limited mobility.  
  3. Great Smokey Mountains National Park: This national park crosses state lines into Tennessee, but there are many different hiking trails on the North Carolina side of the park. Visit the Ocanaluftee Visitor Center (27.8 miles from Avalon) for the NC hiking trail maps.  One of the really special places to hike is The Cataloochee Valley (21.8 miles from Avalon). Here you will see wild elk! Elk were released into the area starting in 2002 to rebuild native populations in NC. You can see them from the road even, grazing in the valley. (Please, do not approach the elk because they are wild animals. Watch them from a distance.)  The Rough Fork Trail is a popular hiking trail in the valley.
  4. Mount Mitchell State Park: (66.1 miles from Avalon) Mount Mitchell is part of the Black Mountain Range and in 1915 it was declared North Carolina’s 1st state park. Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi. There is an observatCouple hiking in the forest WNCion deck that is easily accessible from the road, a museum that tells of the cultural and natural history of the area and many hiking trails.  You will also find the entrance to the Mountains to Sea NC State Trail. Visit the park office for a complete list of hiking maps.  Two good hikes that start from the park office are the Camp Alice Trail and the Old Mitchell Trail.
  5. North Carolina Arboretum:  (29.6 miles from Avalon) The Arboretum offers easy, moderate, and difficult trails, as well as pet friendly trails for dogs on leashes.  The Azalea Collection Trail is an easy trail with a beautiful view of the flowers it is named after.  The Natural Garden Trail is a moderate trail that allows you to see the natural Native Azalea collection. The Owl Ridge Trail is more difficult trail for hikers.
  6. Pisgah National Forest:  (3.2 miles from Avalon) The Pisgah National Forest has some of the highest mountains in the Southern Appalachians and the Eastern U.S. Pisgah National Forest has many waterfall trails, such as Cove Creek Falls, Cedar Rock Falls, and Daniel Ridge Falls. Many of these waterfall hikes can even be done in the same day. In the Land of Waterfalls is Rainbow Falls in the Gorges State Park off Hwy. 64 and NC 281 near Sapphire is probably the most popular waterfall hike in the forest. It has a 150 foot tall waterfall that is just beautiful.  Another very popular trail is Looking Glass Falls near Brevard. There is wheelchair access to the upper view of the falls, and you can swim in the pool at the base of the falls. (Please note that there is no lifeguard and you swim at your own risk.)  A fun option is this national forest is Sliding Rock! This is a 60 foot natural rock water slide that you can try. (The water is cold though with temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees!)  Lifeguards are on duty May through August and there is a $2 park fee.  .  (The Ranger Office in Pisgah Natural Forest has maps and info on all the hiking trails, so you are sure to find the perfect one for you.)

So, what are you waiting for? There are so many great places to hike in Western North Carolina. Get your hiking boots ready! Bring plenty of water and snacks! Be sure to pack a camera! Go and enjoy the great hiking spots that the area has to offer!

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