Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you explore the hiking and mountain biking trails that weave through nearly 70,000 acres of Pisgah National Forest.
Enjoy stunning views and breathtaking waterfalls, as well as treks through lush Appalachian forests and alongside clear mountain streams. From family-friendly greenways and easy, well-trod paths to strenuous backcountry trails, there’s a hiking adventure perfect for every Blue Ridge traveler. Download a map of area hiking trails for driving directions and more recommendations.
Favorite Blue Ridge Mountain Hiking Trails
Take a hike on one of these popular scenic trails that lead alongside creeks and rivers, wind along an old mountain road or dip into a rugged canyon.
Other top spots include the Woodlawn Fitness Trail north of Marion, the primitive Armstrong Creek Trail, or the challenging Snook’s Nose Trail — for experienced hikers only!
Point Lookout Trail
The paved Point Lookout Trail is a favorite among runners and bikers. It follows the path of old US Hwy 70 and stretches for 3.6 miles between Old Fort and Ridgecrest, gaining 900 feet in elevation along the way. Enjoy views of Royal Gorge and a peek at a 19th-century railroad tunnel, and don’t miss Point Lookout itself, located about two miles from the Old Fort trailhead and marked with a flagpole. Watch for bicycles, especially those coasting downhill!
Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway
This flat, meandering greenway runs along the banks of the Catawba River just outside downtown Marion and is perfect for families, strollers, bikes and wheelchairs. Parking is available at each end of the 1.5-mile path, and river access is available for canoes, kayaks and fishing. A short loop trail leads to Round Hill Cemetery, less than a quarter-mile from the river.
The scenic Newberry Creek Trail leads from Curtis Creek Road east of Old Fort up to the Blue Ridge Parkway over an easy-to-moderate 5 miles. Enjoy views of Newberry Creek, plus wildflowers in spring, stunning fall foliage in autumn and great mountain views in winter.
Often known as the “Grand Canyon of the Eastern U.S.,” this rugged gorge walls in 12 miles of the Linville River. Access the gorge’s west rim and the strenuous hiking trails there from Kistler Memorial Highway, near US Hwy 221.
Lake James State Park
Lake James State Park is divided into two recreational areas — Paddy’s Creek and Catawba River. Both offer numerous outdoor adventure options, including mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, and a swimming beach. A dozen hiking and biking trails offer scenic overlooks, forested ridgelines, and lakeside hikes. Bring the whole family to enjoy the Holly Discovery Trail, and be sure to pick up a Kids in Parks TRACK Trails adventure brochure to learn more about the area’s natural wonders.
Top Waterfall Hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Visit these popular spots to find awe-inspiring waterfalls. You’ll want to bring your camera! Please practice good waterfall safety — obey all posted signs and NEVER climb near a waterfall or enter a stream above a waterfall.
This 3-mile round-trip hike near Old Fort is a local favorite, and once you take in the sight of Catawba Falls’ 340-foot double waterfall, you’ll see why! The moderate trail rises steadily from the parking area as it follows the Catawba River through the Blue Ridge Mountain forest. The trail ends at a viewing area for enjoying the lower falls, and you might spy the upper falls through the trees. The trail to the upper falls is NOT recommended except for the most experienced hikers — it is steep and slick!
The trail to Crabtree Falls is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 339.5 near Little Switzerland. A moderate 3-mile woodland trail leads to the falls, a dramatic 60-foot plunge down a wide rock face. A wooden bridge spans the creek just in front of the falls — perfect for great views, and great selfies! Crabtree Falls is especially picturesque in fall when it’s framed by golden leaves.
One of the most popular waterfalls along North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls offers paths to view its three breathtaking tiers as they cascade into Linville Gorge. The 1.6-mile Erwins View Trail begins at Visitor Center at Parkway milepost 316.4 and leads past four overlooks, each offering a different look at the falls and surrounding gorge. Pick up a trail map in the Visitor Center for information on other nearby trails.
Tom’s Creek Falls
The 1-mile loop trail to Tom’s Creek Falls is easy and family-friendly. The trailhead is located next to a gravel parking lot, 1.2 miles off US Hwy 221 between Marion and Little Switzerland. Hike past imposing boulders and an old mica mine on your way to the observation platform, where you can appreciate the beauty of this 80-foot waterfall.
Roaring Fork Creek Falls
This long zig-zagging waterfall is located in Pisgah National Forest at the base of Mount Mitchell. The easy trail to Roaring Creek Fork Falls is less than a mile to the base of the falls. Check out another easy hike to Setrock Creek Falls just a couple of miles down the road.
Download the full guide to hiking and waterfall trails here.