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

Banner Elk, North Carolina Map
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Wonderful hike and place to sit and relax. Because it had been so rainy the days before, water volume was way up and we had the place to ourselves.

Great hike, have done this a few times but this was the first time in the wet. Definitely not for children under 12 or so. After mile marker 2.5 it begins to get steep and the trail goes thru some small boulder fields which makes climbing difficult and with rain it can be even more dangerous. Be careful and have fun!

Excellent workout. I've done this up and back in one day. The ladders with high winds are a bit unnerving, hold onto your hat and camera. Always worth every step.

This one has it all....great views, length, technical elements. Be prepared to spend several hours doing the hike if you're going to Calloway's peak and back. It joins the Grandfather Trail in time to get some of the best elements - the chute, the ledge and the alpine meadow...not to mention the peak. If it's been raining, the lower couple of miles gets pretty slippery due to the clay. The steps added to the new section (trailhead to where it joins the old trailhead) help with traction. Fantastic hike!!

Short hike but has some steep uphill incline. Beautiful falls and area to hang out.

Moderate but short hike. Get to see some nice rock features and water falls. Very fun to explore through the rocks and find new spots.

Well worth the hike up the mountain to see these pretty falls and nice swimming hole

Very dog friendly and great views!

Little piece of heaven

Tough but doable for 2 65 year olds with bad knees. We intended to only do first couple of miles, but pushed on to top which really wasn’t too bad. Hike down was rougher, lots of slippery rocks etc. A better plan is to go to both Calloway and then swinging bridge area and have someone pick you up there!

Nice trail, good distance for some exercise without being long. Mostly gravel so fairly easy to avoid muddy or wet spots, although there are some. Waterfall is beautiful. Beware yellow jackets in warm months. We saw a lot of them and someone in our group stepped on a nest and the sting was not fun. A couple of somewhat steep parts but nothing too difficult. My kids enjoyed it.

hiking
19 days ago

Excellent hiking trail when it's dry. Be careful if it has rained recently. One of the most beautiful falls we've seen in the area.

Free access parking off 105, restroom facilities, plenty of parking.

Trail is moderate in the beginning, strenuous the rest of the way after mile 2.5 or so. Watauga view and Foscoe view well worth the climb! Elevation gain over 700 meters within the 4 miles to Calloway peak! This one's a monster! I'd say, no small kids or small dogs, and probably good idea to avoid when trail is wet, especially going back downhill. Some trail-running possible, however, lots of roots and boulders in the latter part of the climb. Made it up and down in about 3 hours; some trail-running, but mostly trail-jogging, and even trail-crawling at spots. =)

Lovely little hike to some great falls

Beautiful trail and waterfall. Almost a botanic garden appearance.

nice little hike to some really pretty falls. It is pretty steep most of the way but the trail is a gravel road for half the way up. For people not in the best shape it may be slow going but worth it.

This was a very short hike with easy well-maintained paths. The waterfall at the end was pretty and fun for kids and dog to play around in. It was a Saturday morning so it was a popular spot for young and old. A little too easy and short for our family’s preference.

We did this trail and absolutely loved it. My kids 10& 12 rocked it but there are places that are a little scary. During the first mile, there is a picturesque area with big rocks and and a mountain stream to take pictures and play in the water. As you wind your way up, it gets harder and becomes very steep. We climbed through rocky, dense tree areas and then reached the peak by climbing up man-made ladders onto boulders. Several trails merge so it was a bit crowded at the top. Beautiful views! One of our favorite family hikes!

Great little hike. We parked in the church parking lot. Up hill all the way until right before the falls, but easy trail. Grandparents and toddlers were making the hike. We took our two miniature Australian Shepherds.

Easy hike to some gorgeous falls. Most of the trail is double track gravel. The swimming hole is nice and pretty well protected for kids.

Some steps, some switchbacks but generally a moderate climb. The parking lot leads down a winding trail for over a mile, so the return was a bit tougher than usual out and back climbs. Pack a jacket for the gusty stuff up top.

Diverse and beautiful hike with a glorious view at the summit. Took us 5.5 hours up and back. Not a trail for those with balance or knee issues- parts of the trail flooded very quickly in the rain, and wooden steps and rock scrambles became very slippery - but would happily do it again!

Easy hike, only one section that's slightly steep is probably why this is rated as moderate. Lots of families on this hike, small wading pool at the base of the falls.

2 mile loop portion very steep on return. Great views if not for preponderance of development, etc. and lift construction in process.

Very nice hike and it’s well worth the energy

Great hike with classic Appalachian beauty: big rhododendrons, views of rolling blue-green hills, ferns, a lovely creek, and large flat boulders at the top. The trail was nice in most places, with patches of slippery rocks and roots. I was visiting NC from my home in WA state and this was a great "bang-for-your-buck" hike to experience this area.

Based on other reviews I thought it would be more difficult. Although it wasn't exactly easy, I made it to the top in 2 hours, but maybe it's because I'm fortunate to be able to hike hilly trails a couple of days a week at home. When I got to the top there were patches of clouds blowing in and out, so there were only partial views, but it was still worth it to hike through the lovely green forest. All in all, maybe not for the out-of-shape or new hiker, but if you are an avid hiker, it's not too bad. :)

Very rocky. Not suitable for dogs. It was cloudy/foggy but had some amazing areas/overlook places. Overall a very amazing trail!

Easily the best trail in all of NC! From the great parking area, the first 1/4 of the trail descended along the creek through rhododendrons and creek beds. The next 1/2 is almost all switchbacks and stairs with a few opportunities for some bouldering, but is absolutely beautiful! The last 1/4 is an endurance marathon where you climb across rock formations, twisted roots, and take 3 ladders up to the top of Calloway Peak made very slippery on a rainy day! All in all....8.4 miles travelled in the rain but cannot wait to do this trail again soon!

Great hike with an even better view. It is all uphill to the waterfalls. If you’re not in the best of shape, it’s going to be a little tough. But worth it. I brought my 6m old Border collie and we both went in the water. Great time.

Amazing climb, my personal favorite to date. A wide variety of terrain, rock formations, and even begins next to a picturesque brook. Great rock scrambles. Difficulty level is accurate, not for beginning hikers but you also don't need to be a serious, super skilled hiker either.

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