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Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina – USA

Overview

North Carolina, the Tar Heel State, is known for its beaches on the Atlantic ocean but also for the Blue Ridge Mountains (part of the Appalachian Mountains) running along the western part of the state. The main areas to hike are in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, along the Blue Ridge Highway, Grandfather Mountain State Park, Pisgah National Forest, Shining Rock Wilderness Area, and more. The best months to hike in North Carolina are May to October. Read on for more information on where and when to hike in North Carolina.

Capital: Raleigh

When To Hike in North Carolina – USA?

May – October: Driest period
April; November
December – March: Cold, rain/snow

Climate: Subtropical highland in the mountains – cool summers and mild winters. 

 

NWS Forecast Office, Raleigh, NC

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: Well-marked trails, good maps and guidebooks and many resources to help with hiking trip planning. 

North Carolina Trails

Transportation required: Car

Where to stay in North Carolina for hiking:

  • Asheville
  • Black Mountain
  • Banner Elk
  • Boone

Most popular hikes in North Carolina – USA

The Appalachian Mountains run through the western part of North Carolina. Some of the big draws include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Appalachian Trail runs through North Carolina. Asheville makes a good base as it's surrounded by mountains. Highest Mountain: Mount Mitchell (2037 m) .

Filter out hiking places of North Carolina – USA by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Goes through Tennessee and Virginia
  • Many spots to hike from the Parkway 

Crowders Mountain State Park

Buffalo Creek Park

Pisgah National Forest

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Grandfather Mountain State Park

Long Distance Trails of North Carolina – USA

North Carolina – USA's Walking & Hiking Resources

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North Carolina Hiking Books: Lots of books, small sampling below

  • Hiking Trails of the Smokies – put out by the National Park
  • Day Hikes of the Smokies – covers 34 of the best day hikes – put out by the National Park
  • Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park: A Guide to the Park’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, by Kevin Adams, 2021, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/4d2n1vV
  • Hiking North Carolina’s State Parks: The Best Trail Adventures from the Appalachians to the Atlantic, by Johnny Molloy, 2022, University of North Carolina Press – https://amzn.to/3TUNmU0
  • Hiking North Carolina: A Guide to More than 500 of North Carolina’s Greatest Trails 3rd Edition, by Randy Johnson, 2020, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/3Q9pbAe
  • Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, by Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, 2020, University of North Carolina Press – https://amzn.to/3W3Fsu5
  • Five-Star Trails: Asheville: 35 Spectacular Hikes in the Land of Sky, by Jennifer Pharr Davis, 2018, Menasha Ridge Press – https://amzn.to/3UwupZv
  • Moon Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Hike, Camp, Scenic Drives, by Jason Frye, 2020, Avalon Publishing – https://amzn.to/4d3b8FU
  • Hiking North Carolina’s National Forests: 50 Can’t Miss Trail Adventures in the Pisgah, Nantahala, Uwharrie, and Croatan National Forests, by Johnny Molloy, 2014, University of North Carolina Press – https://amzn.to/3UpnoJW
  • Appalachian Trail Guide to Tennessee-North Carolina by Vic Hasler, 2020, Appalachian Trail Conservancy – https://amzn.to/4aVPaTC

 

North Carolina Hiking Associations/Clubs: – there are many clubs

 

Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, official park websites, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist offices:

  • Clingman’s Dome – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Mountain to Sea Trail
  • Calloway Peak – Grandfather Mountain State Park
  • Deep Gap Trail – Mt Mitchell State Park
  • Looking Glass Rock – Pisgah National Forest
  • Green Knob – Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Charlie’s Bunion – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Art Loeb Trail – Pisgah National Forest
  • Pinnacle – Pinnacle Park
  • Shortoff Trail – Linville Gorge Wilderness

Easy Hiking Trails in North Carolina:

  • Craggy Pinnacle – Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Catawba Falls – near Asheville
  • Paradise Falls

 

North Carolina Hiking Websites:

 

North Carolina Weather Website:

 

North Carolina Official Tourism Site:  

 

North Carolina Hiking Apps: 

 

North Carolina Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Outer Banks
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial 
  • Biltmore Estate – largest privately owned home in the US

Other Important Points