Best trails in Highlands, North Carolina

3,932 Reviews
Looking for a great trail near Highlands, North Carolina? AllTrails has 34 great hiking trails, trail running trails, forest trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. If you're looking for the best trails around Gorges State Park or Table Rock State Park, we've got you covered. You'll also find some great local park options, like Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park or Pinnacle Park. Ready for some activity? There are 18 moderate trails in Highlands ranging from 1.3 to 8.6 miles and from 2,398 to 5,006 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
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Map of trails in Highlands, North Carolina
Top trails (34)
#1 - Whiteside Mountain National Recreation Trail
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1111)
Length: 1.9 mi • Est. 1 h 7 m
A landmark along the Eastern Continental Divide, Whiteside Mountain rises to an elevation of 4,930 feet. The mountain's cliffs look like sheets of ice draped across the mountain. This magnificent rock is about 390 to 460 million years old. Attractions: A two-mile loop trail climbs above the sheer 750-foot high cliffs and offers outstanding views to the east, south, and west. Whiteside Mountain Trail is rated more difficult because of its steepness. This is a self service fee location. $3 per vehicle and an additional $1 per person. It is a beautiful hike with amazing views and worth the visit!Show more
#2 - Glen Falls Trail
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(438)
Length: 2.4 mi • Est. 1 h 30 m
#3 - Dry Falls Trail
Nantahala National Forest
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(279)
Length: 0.3 mi • Est. 7 m
This trail goes behind a waterfall. You will get wet.Show more
#4 - Secret Falls Trail
Highlands, North Carolina
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(176)
Length: 1.3 mi • Est. 42 m
#5 - Bartram Trail: Jones Gap to Whiterock Mountain
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(184)
Length: 4.6 mi • Est. 2 h 29 m
This route is a section of the much longer Bartram Trail. The start of this section is Jones Gap, which cannot be accessed by vehicle. If you use the "Directions" button on this page, you will get close to the start of this trail, but not all the way to the starting point.Show more
#6 - Nantahala Yellow Mountain Trail
Nantahala National Forest
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(254)
Length: 11.7 mi • Est. 6 h 41 m
Yellow Mountain at 5,127 feet is one of the highest mountains in the Highlands Ranger District. On the top is a fire tower built by the Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps originally in 1934, and reconstructed in the early 1990's through the joint effort of the Forest Service, local business and civic groups and volunteers. In 1992, the tower was recognized as a National Historic Lookout. Not only is the tower unique but the 360 degree view from the tower is one of the most spectacular in the District. The trail from Cole Gap to the top of Yellow Mountain starts at an elevation of 4,300 feet and goes along a Cole Mountain ridge at 4,600 feet. There is a short descent before climbing Shortoff to 5,000 feet via a set of switchbacks. At 4,640 feet, from Goat Knob the trail descends to Yellow Mountain Gap at 4,120 feet and makes the final climb up to Yellow Mountain at 5,120 feet. Shorter hikes can be made by terminating the hike at the view over the western cliffs of Cole Mountain or by continuing to the top of Shortoff. Also you can start from the Cashiers side of the trail with a RT of around 3 miles.Show more
#7 - Ranger Falls Loop Trail
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(240)
Length: 2.4 mi • Est. 1 h 21 m
Please check in with park before leaving. Trails are sometimes closed after severely rainy conditions because of flooding, mud, or downed trees. Also, please read directions in the "Getting There" tab. Google Maps will not bring you to the second parking lot where the Ranger Falls Loop Trailhead is.Show more
#8 - Scaly Mountain Trail
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(163)
Length: 3.7 mi • Est. 2 h 15 m
Scaly Mountain NCShow more
#9 - Cullasaja Falls
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(71)
Length: 0.2 mi • Est. 5 m
You can see Cullasaja Falls from a very small pullout on US-64. There is room for four cars; make sure you pull all the way off the road. You have to climb over the guardrail to get to the trail to the bottom, which is unofficial and extremely steep. The rocks are very slippery and this trail is not for the faint of heart. Someone has installed a rope, which helps a lot; consider wearing gloves. The trail is lined with poison ivy and heavily strewn with litter. All in all, the falls are spectacular but getting to them isn't very pleasant.Show more
#10 - Sunset Rock Trail
Ravenel Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(157)
Length: 1.4 mi • Est. 34 m
Driving up to Ravnel Park is not recommended unless you have four wheel drive.Show more
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