The Blue Ridge Mountains’ mild winter weather and long-range views invite hikers of all abilities to explore nearby forests and waterfalls. This winter has so far been quite warm — you may even find yourself hiking in a T-shirt!
Winter is the perfect time of year to enjoy unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains (thanks to the bare trees) and more solitude along the trail. Choose your next hiking adventure from one of these top winter trails:
This easy 1-mile loop trail leads to a beautiful 80-foot waterfall and is great for the whole family. You’ll see huge boulders and an old mica mine along the trail. Find the trailhead next to a gravel parking area located 1.2 miles off of US 221 between Marion and Little Switzerland.
The Newberry Creek Trail, located off Curtis Creek Road near Old Fort, is a favorite year-round hike with awesome winter views! Park near the forest service gate at the end of Newberry Creek Road, then walk around the gate and continue up the old forest service road. Wear good boots, as you’ll be crossing the creek a few times on this 5-mile, easy-to-moderate hike. The trail ends at the Blue Ridge Parkway (it may be overgrown in spots here) at South Toe River Road.
This popular spot features a 340-foot double waterfall that is spectacular in all seasons! Located near Old Fort, this 3-mile round-trip hike rises steadily — but not steeply — from the parking area as it follows the Catawba River.
The hike to the top of Marion’s Mount Ida is a short-but-strenuous half mile that ends with beautiful views of the town’s Main Street and surrounding mountains. Drive to the top of Mt. Ida Road to find parking and a covered picnic area beside the trailhead.
More Great Winter Hikes
Looking for more places to hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains this winter?
Check out the 1.5-mile Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway in Marion. This paved greenway is accessible for families, strollers, bikes and wheelchairs and offers an up-close look at native flora and fauna in winter.
Winter at nearby Chimney Rock State Park offers uninterrupted 75-mile views from the top of the famed Chimney Rock monolith. And visitors to the park’s 400-foot Hickory Nut Gap Falls are often rewarded with a peek at otherworldly ice sculptures formed by the freezing waterfall.
For experienced hikers seeking a winter adventure, the Snook’s Nose Trail off Curtis Creek Road offers stunning views from its rock ridgeline. In winter, access this 4-mile strenuous trail by parking outside the Curtis Creek Campground gate and walking 0.4 miles to the trailhead.