I like taking out of town company here, especially if they aren’t seasoned hikers. It’s got a nice mix of a leisurely, level hike along a stream in a beautiful forest, with some moderately steep hills with a nice payoff of a beautiful view of Looking Glass Rock. It can be an out and back or turned into a loop, see All Trails Map. Before or after the hike it’s nice to walk through the fish hatchery, visit Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock.
If heading back to Asheville taking 276 to the parkway is the way to go. You can take the parkway all the way to Asheville (Check for closures in the colder months), but I like to take 276 to Rt 40 and enjoy it’s windy curves with a canopy above.