When you don’t have a lot of time to explore and are just looking to get out of the house or out of the office for a few hours on the weekend, a day hike is the perfect escape. Luckily, here in Asheville with the mountains so close by, there’s no shortage of trails. We have our pick of day hikes from the number of national forests that surround our city, but we thought we’d point out five in particular that are perfect for that Saturday morning hike — when you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet to enjoy the nature around you. Here are our top 5 picks for ultimate Asheville day hikes:
Crabtree Falls Trail
Crabtree Falls are popular all through the year, because of the falls’ beauty when they’re frozen in the winter. No matter when you go, this is an accessible, 2.4 mile loop with the added bonus of a 70-foot waterfall halfway through!
A popular hike, if you do Crabtree Falls Trail in the summer you probably won’t be alone, but you definitely can’t beat this hike on a hot day. The majority of the hike is done in the cool of the forest and along the creek, making it a great option for a warmer day.
One of North Carolina’s most interesting hiking destinations, Shining Rock is a beautiful, massive rock that’s topped with large quartz rock formations. When viewing the rock in the sun, it will shine and sparkle in the sunlight. Standing atop Shining Rock is a feeling you won’t get anywhere else.
To get to this beautiful landmark, you have several options. You can take the Big East Fork Trailhead to the Shining Creek Trail, but we prefer a more picturesque route on a section of the Art Loeb Trail. Start at the Black Balsam Knob trailhead just off the Blue Ridge Parkway on road 816. Follow the Art Loeb Trail’s white blazes north. This is an enjoyable five mile hike along the ridgelines of Black Balsam, Tennent Mountain, and a few lesser known peaks and valleys. Eventually, you’ll end up at Shining Rock Gap, where you can view the rock from afar, or check out some of the unmarked trails leading to the summit of Shining Rock if you’d like to spend a bit more time exploring.
The Max Patch hike is a favorite of many Asheville locals, but it’s also known as one of the best views on the Appalachian Trail. A vast, grassy knoll smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Max Patch is a bald, which means there are no trees or shrubs to obstruct your view. Instead, catch gorgeous panoramic views of the mountain around you, as you take in the blooming meadow flowers at your feet.
Max Patch has two loops, a 1.4-mile loop, and a 2.4-mile loop, and they both start from the parking lot. The longer hike just takes you farther around the mountain, giving you views of all sides. If neither loop seems long enough, remember the Max Patch is a part of the Appalachian Trail, so just follow the AT and turn around when you’re tired!
A true Asheville hike, the Mt. Pisgah summit trail is one of the few where you can see all the way to Asheville on a very clear day. Though the trail is strenuous and rocky, it’s only a total of three miles, out and back, and the views at the top make it worth your while.
From the summit, you’ll be able to see the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance, as well as Cold Mountain at the northern end of Shining Rock Wilderness, and don’t forget to look for Asheville! Once you get back down, enjoy a bite to eat at the Pisgah Inn at the bottom of the mountain.
A beautiful, 100-foot rippling waterfall is a pretty good reason to go for a hike. The Catawba Falls are another of the Pisgah National Forest’s gems, and the Catawba Falls Trail leading to them makes for a perfect day hike. Three miles total, this newly renovated out and back trail features a number of new bridges that give you exclusive looks at the waterfalls from right on the river.
Park in the parking lot, and head to the trailhead. Your hike will be 1.5 miles of uphill, but it’s not steep or strenuous. The river will be with you on your entire hike, and you’ll see plenty of smaller cascades on your way up to the Catawba falls themselves. Best of all, after that hard work your return trip will be easy — 1.5 miles downhill.
If these hikes get you excited about being so close to nature, why not check out Couch Mountain? A sustainable mountain living community just minutes away from downtown Asheville, you can’t beat the access to the trails surrounding our properties, and there’s no better way to live in nature, all the time! Find out more about our beautiful homesites located near mountain streams and on a 150-acre nature preserve by requesting more information online or giving our office a call at 866-936-5263 today!