Explore the most popular backpacking trails in North Carolina with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

trail running
1 day ago

Wide gravel road of constant uphill. Easy to add distance to make a 7 mile run. Great views from the top. Good footing and not a technical run.

Get there early if you want a more quiet walk. Many families there by mid morning to tube in the creek. (Which looked fun!) The trail was manageable for my older parents and younger kids. The waterfall and creek make for beautiful photos with the family.

My husband & I hiked this trail yesterday with an early start. Beautiful trail with lots to see. Love to hike with water features from the creek raging along the trail, waterfalls, & peaceful trickling streams trailing down the mountain, its here. Calm pools for fishing, wildflowers & rock formations, you won't be disappointed! Glad we arrived early as we finished our hike, loads of eager tubing fans were trekking up the trail to get a chance to ride the waves of cascading water in the creek. There is something for everyone here. A great day all the way around!

hiking
2 days ago

Not steep but long climb, the first mile was a very wide pathway but after that it was more of a trail. Overall good trail. 3 waterfalls along the trail. Some difficult parts but mostly easy

backpacking
2 days ago

This trail has something for everyone, scenic views, fly fishing, water falls, and just enough incline for a slight challenge. The trail is well maintained and clean except for horse manure. Lots of trails in this area are horse friendly ( so watch your step).

Wow! What a hike. Definitely take a good map and a compass. We took Old Butt trail to Shining Rock and then back down Shining Creek. We went in mid July and there was so much vegetation the trail was almost unrecognizable in places. Old Butt trail is no joke and this is no easy stroll.

There is definitely some discrepancy in the length. Sign at the bottom says 5.5 to Cheoah Bald. Sign .5 from Cheoah Bald says 6 to the parking area off 143. I think I clocked 11 Total. It’s a beautiful forest hike, “rolling” up and down both ways. I’m sure the view at the top is spectacular, but between 11-12 today I couldn’t see much of anything. Beautiful wildflowers near the top. Trail was is great shape, though it is pretty narrow the entire way. I don’t think this trail is super difficult, but as a long distance runner I may not be the best judge! It was fairly busy today, a Monday.

Great trail. So much of the Appalachians in such a short distance.

One of the best backpacking trips I’ve done. We chose the campsite on the top of Big Hump, and although it got super windy at one point and we were clouded in most of the time that night, we woke up in the morning to clear skies and a spectacular view of the mountains in every direction, and it was so worth the trek up there.

backpacking
3 days ago

This is a very tough trail with multiple steep inclines, two river crossings, and lots of rocks and tree roots along the trail. To complete the trail I highly recommend downloading a map on your phone to use as a GPS because of the trails extremely limited trail signs and I also recommend three full days and two nights to get the most enjoyment from the trail. I completed the loop on 7-14-18 and experienced rain and very wet conditions, also the majority of the trail was very overgrown with lots of fallen trees, briers, and tree limbs across the trail even at some points where you couldn’t see your feet while walking along the trail. Overall this loop features cool views and many neat places to set up camp but I definitely recommend it to experienced hikers as every mile on the Linville Gorge feels like two miles.

My first time backpacking with my ASU class and had a great experience! And the sunset from the top of the little hump was so beautiful!

Great short loop. Beware if you have seasonal allergies, they will flare up!

Beautiful views and very worth it. There were too many babies when I went. Do not take babies passed the first bald. It becomes much more strenuous and easier to slip. Also the change in elevation will make them cry

fishing
5 days ago

Good fishing. Rough trail not marked well but won’t get you lost.

Great hike and amazing views. We actually went farther then the Grassy Ridge spot. Trail goes about a mile farther then dead ends.

REGULAR ENTRANCE IS CLOSED! Amazing trail with views. Also has a downed plane a little off the beaten path. Can only be accessed between mile marker 301 and 302 then taking the Tanawa trail to the trailhead this adds an additional 2.8 miles to the trek so plan ahead.

hiking
7 days ago

Went with the wife and kids very easy and manageable for everyone.

Max Patch is one of my absolute favorite hikes! The views are incredible any time of the year. My favorite time to visit if for the sunset/sunrise! It is a fairly easy hike, suitable for all ages!

Really enjoyed this hike. A steady climb for 2 miles at most and then a nice stroll along the Rhododendron and Lost Province trails. Had a nice lunch at Luther Rock.
The only downside is constant road noise.

Did this hike the other day and it was spectacular! The hike itself is really short and easy - there were a few families up there with some little kids. The 360-degree views were stunning and you could see for miles! It was about an hour’s drive to get there, but it was absolutely worth it!

Easy to moderate in my opinion. Hiked a 10 miler (round trip) along the east rim of the Gorge. Went an extra 2 miles after I reached the Shortoff Summit. Probably got close to 1,400 feet in elevation gain, so I was at about 3,100 feet. So many vistas along the way. A lot of views south of Lake James. The views to the west and to the north were the gifts that kept on giving once the trail flattened out. Sick views of Table Rock Mtn and below into the Gorge. Grandfather Mtn was in the back behind Table Rock, and Mt Mitchell was in the distance behind the west ridgeline. Might have gone all the way to Table Rock for a 14 mile round trip if not for the heat.

6/30/18-7/1/18 WOW! This was our first backpacking trip. Amazing hike! Loved how the first 5 miles and last 5 miles were along rivers! We loved it...and so did our white German Shepherd pup! Even though the weather called for some storms, it only rained at night while in our tent. It was very cloudy in some areas, but do not be fooled! Those foggy clouds move quickly! What looked to be a cloud covered evening turned into a beautiful sunset and sunrise the next morning! Same up by Tennent Mountain...cloudy but within 5 minutes it cleared! Before I get to my tips and tricks, I just want to say I’d do this exact same route again someday. Loved it and worth it!

Tips:
*download this app so you can track where you are while offline! Not all the trails are clearly marked. We added a couple miles after going the wrong way. And we ended up veering off Mountain To Sea Trail onto the graveyard trail ... which ended up meeting back up with mountain to sea eventually, but that part was very confusing. If you have this app and look at where you are shortly after each fork, you will be fine...we happened not to look early enough on this turn.
(Grab a trail map at the very least! There is a Pisgah National Forest Ranger station you can go to prior to getting to the hiking place...google map it)
*keep phone in airplane mode and bring an extra battery pack and the correct cord hookup for your phone-we took pictures and ran out of battery at the last 5 miles where the pigeon river is so amazing! (Plus Bridges Camp Gap Trail can be tricky)
*Bring hiking poles. Our $20 amazon ones worked great! We are athletic people and couldn’t imagine doing this without poles. So much better on your joints
*bear canisters required-rented one at Pura Vida Adventures Pisgah Forest NC. Keep it in some brush ~100 yards from tent...eat there too
*Want to see black bears? Keep very quiet. Don’t want to see black bears? Clank poles together here and there and sing a song. We saw none (I didn’t want to see any our first trip! But people along the trails did see them. Don’t eat by or in your tent, don’t feed bears, bury your poop, because even if you don’t see a bear, don’t let there be a chance your area attracts bears for the next people. I also carried some bear spray.
*Don’t watch the Netflix movie “Backcountry” before going. ;)

*Start on Shining Creek path and end on Big East Fork. Wouldn’t want to go the other way -easier to climb up fast than the other way around!
*Watch your river-fill up before the ridge (around 4 miles in! Water is scarce till getting past the ridge. On map it looks like you cross the water a few times at the end of Shining Creek but those water sources are much less ... it’s not a true river site.
*we used Sawyer filters off amazon-took 6 normal plastic water bottles plus the 2 pouches that cane with our two sawyer filters. (Keep a couple designated clean bottles and just keep pouring the bottles into the pouches and squeezing them into the clean ones.
*at 6.2 miles you’ll see the Shining Rock Wilderness sign by a meadow. Many camp areas up that way ... some not covered, some up by the woods. There were 5 other couples up that way. Beautiful sunset and sunrise there! We stayed by the trees because we heard the wind and rain can get crazy if rain is called for up there-and it was, but the couple in the meadow were alright.
*we left late but wanted to make it to 8miles...there was another place to camp by there but not a bunch of options like at 6.2miles.
*We went on the wrong trail for about a mile and turned around to go on the correct trail up to black balsam...if you aren’t going up for a while check where you are!
*off the ridge, where Mountain To Sea Trail starts, there was a forest with big White Dots on some trees or rocks helping you keep course.
*Like I said we someone ended up on the graveyard trail which met up with Mountain To Sea so it was ok, but that was very confusing.
*after Mountain To Sea comes Bridges Gap Trail. Our phones died and this trail leads you right down to a large boulder on the river! That must be the Gap ha! You have to walk down the boulder (for us a large tree trunk was sticking out where the trail continued) but you have to walk to the boulder a ways to see where the trail continues (it’s on the same side of the river)
*THEN you ARE ON BIG EAST FORK. We saw no sign that said we were suddenly on Big East Fork! It was a beautiful hike by the Pigeon River! Places to camp and swim here as well.

I think we were somehow at Skinny Dip Falls (not sure) where there were a lot of people swimming. There’s a bridge you cross that us pretty high up..watch your dog.

Hope this helps and does not deter!! It truly is SPECTACULAR!

Attempt number one to summit.... I’ll be back tomorrow.

This trail has great potential for views and camping... but it is crowded which made this trail less enjoyable. As mentioned there are 3 Balds on this trail. Most of the load and obnoxious people stop after the first one, but a few continue on. It’s enough to ruin a hike.

The views are amazing though. It was pretty foggy on my hike but dissipated enough for me to catch a glimpse of the beautiful views .

This trail is not difficult, and that is why it stays very crowded .

The drive was long, but so worth it. We loved the scenic drive. The hike was great and easy enough for our young children to hike. The view from the top was amazing!!!! Words can’t even describe the magnificent view!!! God surely showed out when He made this part of the world!! I recommend this hike if you want an easy day hike for family!!

July 5, 2018. Husband set out alone on Standing Indian. Deep Gap trail was not marked or accessible. Best route through AT trail. Beautiful vistas at the top.

backpacking
10 days ago

Very difficult trail. Tried it as a beginner and it humbled my friends and I very quickly. We encountered terrible weather and we had a very difficult time dealing with the terrain. There are very few flat areas on the trail, it is constant elevation change. I do not recommend if you aren’t a veteran hiker.

hiking
11 days ago

A fairly easy trail with waterfalls and not a lot of others on some areas of the trail. There are quite a few connections with other trailheads along this trail also. It’s a good trail to start with and do beginner hikes to build up to more strenuous hiking trails.

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