The Best Off-the-Tourist-Track Hikes Near Asheville, NC
Surrounding Areas,  The Great Outdoors

The 7 Best Off-the-Tourist Track Hiking Trails Near Asheville

One of the main reasons people visit and live in Asheville is for its beautiful mountains and ample outdoor activities to enjoy. If you’re looking for the down low on all of the amazing hiking trails in Asheville that even the locals don’t want you to know about, then you’ve come to the right place. After all, these mountains were made for everyone! 

However, before you go out hiking in Asheville, make sure you fully understand the activity level required for each hike. Choose hikes that are suitable for your skill level and come prepared with the essentials (i.e., water, food, appropriate clothing, etc.). 

The Appalachians that run through Western North Carolina are considered some of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, originally part of the same highlands that scattered across Scotland before the division of Pangea. 

As much as these mountains are meant to be experienced, they should also be treated with the respect they deserve. Leave no trace, and don’t underestimate the power of the pinnacle. 

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The 7 Best Off-the-Tourist Track Hiking Trails Near Asheville 

1. Bull Mountain Trail

Best off the Tourist Track Hiking Trails near Asheville: Bull Mountain Trail
Image courtesy of AllTrails

If you’re looking for easy hiking trails near Asheville, consider checking out Bull Mountain Trail. This simple 1.5-mile out-and-back trail (3 miles total) will give you a sense of Asheville’s natural beauty without needing to venture too far outside of town. 

Just 15 minutes from downtown Asheville, this quick nature hike is the perfect choice if you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors without getting sweaty (unless it’s the middle of summer, of course). 

However, be prepared, as this trail has been known to shut down due to multiple bear interactions. Make sure you understand proper bear safety and remain primed for this possibility. Also, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, Bull Mountain Trail does connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway trail system, so you can make it an all-day affair if you want! 

2. Shope Creek Trailhead

Best Hiking Trails near Asheville: Shope Creek Trailhead
Image courtesy of AllTrails

Just down the road from Bull Mountain Trail is the Shope Creek Trailhead, another popular spot for hiking near Asheville. With multiple trails and varying levels of difficulty to choose from, you can spend as much or as little time here as you’d like. 

To enter the trailhead, you’ll need to drive across a concrete bridge with a small amount of running water moving across it, then further down a rugged gravel path. Stay straight on the road until you reach the parking lot. 

At Shope Creek, you’ll find many different waterfalls and creeks to explore, making it a perfect place to bring your water shoes and change of clothes on a sunny day. If you’re looking for views, you’ll need to hike a ways up some steep mountains, but there’s plenty to enjoy along the way. 

3. Warren Wilson River Trail

Guide to the Best Hiking Trails near Asheville:  Warren Wilson River Trail
Image courtesy of AllTrails 

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a mix of mountains and country, Warren Wilson River Trail offers some of the best hiking near Asheville. Located on the beautiful campus of Warren Wilson College – a 130-year-old liberal arts farm school in Swannanoa, NC – the river trail is ready to take you on a journey. 

With signs along the trail educating visitors about local wildlife and the Swannanoa River, as well as an abundance of farm animals to spot along the way, you’ll have a hard time running out of things to do and see. 

If the weather’s good, come prepared with a bathing suit, towel, and river shoes, as the Warren Wilson River Trail is full of some of Asheville’s best swimming holes! Still, don’t be surprised if you catch the local college students skinny dipping. After all, it is their campus. 

4. Kitsuma and Point Lookout Loop

Best Hiking Trails near Asheville: Kitsuma and Point Lookout Loop
Image courtesy of AllTrails 

In search of fantastic views and an epic day of hiking in Asheville? Then you’ll want to check out Kitsuma and Point Lookout Loop just southeast of Asheville in Black Mountain, NC. This challenging 9.7-mile loop trail takes nearly five hours to complete. 

However, if you’re hoping to reap the benefits of this beautiful mountain trail while cutting its length and difficulty in half, there’s a trick you can hack if you bring a friend and two vehicles.

Park one vehicle at the Old Fort Picnic Area, where this hike ends and where you would normally have to turn around. That way, after you’ve seen it all once, you don’t have to go back on foot and do it a second time. I bet not many locals would tell you that! 

5. DuPont Forest Triple Falls

Best off the Tourist Track Hiking Trails near Asheville: DuPont Forest Triple Falls

If you like waterfalls, you’ll find some of the best hiking trails near Asheville just 27 miles northwest of the city in Brevard, NC, aka the “Land of Waterfalls.” Here, you can spend the day exploring DuPont Forest Triple Falls with a variety of easy to moderate hiking trails to choose from. 

As the name suggests, Triple Falls boasts three beautiful waterfalls to enjoy. The lower waterfall, Hooker Falls, is actually also a giant swimming hole and recreational beach area. 

Bring your floaties and spend a sunny afternoon in paradise. You can also jump off Hooker Falls directly into the swimming hole. You’ll want to come prepared for this adventure! 

6. Pisgah Forest Access Road Baldwin Field Branch

Looking for fantastic hiking trails near Asheville that even many of the locals don’t know about? Baldwin Field Branch, a trailhead off Reeve’s Cove Road in Candler, NC, may be a great spot for you. 

Part of Pisgah Forest and Bent Creek Experimental Forest, the Pisgah Forest Access Road near Baldwin Field Branch leads explorers to a multi-use trail popular among hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. 

With Bill Moore Creek tucked away off the main gravel path, you can spend an afternoon of fun exploring elaborate fairy homes others have left along the way. There are many different connecting trails to explore, so make sure to remember which way you came from if you decide to wander. 

7. Graybeard Trail

Guide to the Best Hiking Trails near Asheville:  Graybeard Trail
 Image courtesy of AllTrails

If you’re in search of the best hiking in Asheville for a challenging all-day hike, consider prepping for Graybeard Trail. Located just southeast of Asheville in Montreat, NC, Graybeard is a 9.2-mile out-and-back trail with stunning views of the Appalachias. With nearly 2,500 feet in elevation gain, be prepared to work hard for these spectacular sights. 

Best and most safely enjoyed with a buddy, Graybeard Trail is one of the most beautiful hiking trails near Asheville and is sure to inspire awe (and possibly aches) in its onlookers. 

Hike on in Ashevillian-Style 

When enjoying all of the incredible hiking trails in Asheville, make sure to leave things in the condition you found them. Pack your hiking essentials, and then pack your trash before leaving the trails. 

The best hiking spots in the Asheville area can only remain that way as long as they are treated with care. Hike on in true Ashevillian-style by helping locals maintain the captivating beauty of these lands. 

There you have it! A local’s guide to the best hiking trails near Asheville. What are your favorite hiking trails in Asheville? Let us know in the comments below.

hough born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, Samantha has come to call Asheville home. First introduced to Asheville as a child (back when Bele Chere was a thing), Samantha has been coming here on and off since 2004, when her grandparents first retired in Black Mountain, NC. As an adult, Samantha graduated from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. An official Asheville local since 2013, Samantha has lived as far east as Black Mountain, as far north as Woodfin, as far west as Candler, and now resides just south of Asheville in Hendersonville, NC. Samantha loves Asheville for its natural beauty, vibrant culture, and people that match its mountains. Owner of Organic Copy and Content, Samantha writes and does marketing for a variety of brands, ranging from nonprofits and local businesses to larger industry-disrupting corporations. Passionate about mental wellness, Samantha is also self-publishing her own memoir in 2024 on the topic of overcoming childhood trauma and navigating mental health challenges and grief as an adult parent. In her spare time, Samantha enjoys hiking with her husband, dog, and son. She also regularly horseback rides, and will talk your ear off about art, music, alternative wellness, and books. A foodie at heart, Samantha may be spotted in many of Asheville's delicious eateries (when not eating a fantastic home-cooked meal from her husband and former Starstuff bandmate).

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