Best trails in North Carolina

213,292 Reviews
Trying to find the best North Carolina trails? AllTrails has 2,269 great hiking trails, trail running trails, mountain biking 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 Charlotte, Raleigh or Durham, we've got you covered. If you're looking for great North Carolina state park trails, check out Gorges State Park. Or for some great local park options, check out Julian Price Memorial Park or Moses H Cone Memorial Park near Blowing Rock. Just looking to take a quick stroll? We've got 1,048 easy trails in North Carolina ranging from 0.6 to 91.2 miles and from 0 to 6,683 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 North Carolina
Top trails (2269)
#1 - Looking Glass Rock Trail
Pisgah National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2372)
Length: 6.1 mi • Est. 3 h 28 m
This is a great hike with a steady climb. There are only a few points where things get a little technical, but wear the right shoes and it’s not bad. The end is amazing - find a spot to sit down and enjoy the view. Users have reported that parking on the dirt road next to the trailhead will result in a fine.Show more
#2 - Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1962)
Length: 1.2 mi • Est. 42 m
The Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail is one of the most popular trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail takes you to the highest point in Tennessee. Enjoy 360-degree views of the Smokies and the beautiful Spruce Fir Forest from Clingmans Dome. The weather conditions can get chilly at the highest peak (6,643 feet at Clingmans Dome) so it is recommended that you bring a jacket and warm clothes. There is a large parking area and visitor center as well as several scenic pullouts in the area. SEASONAL ROAD CLOSURE: Roads leading to this trailhead are subject to seasonal closure. For more information, please visit https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm. Show more
#3 - Catawba Falls Trail
Pisgah National Forest
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2262)
Length: 2.3 mi • Est. 56 m
This is an easy, short hike to pretty waterfalls and the headwaters of the Catawba river in Pisgah National Forest. Low effort, high yield, a gem on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Large parking lot right at the trailhead. Additionally, there are historic buildings along the trail dating back to the 1920s. There are many small side trails leading to these buildings. There have been deaths and many injuries caused by hikers falling from the falls. Please do not climb on slick rocks and in close vicinity of the falls. Some rock hopping is necessary. This falls trail is one of the best hikes in McDowell County. The trail ends at the Catawba Falls but before the Upper Catawba Falls. For more information, see the forest service website here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=81789 Show more
#4 - Grassy Ridge Bald via Appalachian Trail
Pisgah National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(1128)
Length: 4.7 mi • Est. 2 h 35 m
Grassy Ridge, along the eastern flank of Roan Mountain, is the longest stretch of grassy bald in the Appalachian Mountains, and is an easy hiking destination starting from Carvers Gap. The Roan Highlands are traversed by the Appalachian Trail. Roan Highlands is a 20-mile massif stretching from Big Rock Creek in the west, to U.S. Route 19 in the east. Most of the massif lies along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Roan Mountain itself contains five mountain peaks, and is divided into two sections by Carvers Gap. To the west of the Gap are Roan High Bluff and Roan High Knob, with Tollhouse Gap and Rhododendron Gardens lying between the two peaks. To the east of Carvers Gap is the section of Roan Mountain known as Grassy Ridge, which includes the three peaks: Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald. The bald area, spanning roughly 7 miles and covering an area roughly equal to 1000 acres, includes the summits of all three peaks. The Hike to Grassy Ridge Bald: The trail begins with a series of wooden steps leading up to the summit of Round Bald. Due to the awesome views and the short distance (roughly 0.7 miles), this first summit can be quite crowded at times. The farther you walk, however, the less crowded it becomes. Continuing northbound along the Appalachian Trail for another 0.7 miles (technically walking eastward) you reach Jane Bald. In between Round and Jane you lose and regain about 200 feet before reaching the 5807-foot summit of Jane Bald. Partially overgrown by rhododendron, the bald area atop Jane is much smaller than its two neighbors. Local legend has it that the peak received its name after a woman named "Jane" died of milk sickness while crossing the mountain. Milk sickness is poisoning by milk from cows that have eaten white snakeroot. Coming off Jane Bald you descend about 100 feet before beginning the final climb of almost 500 feet to the summit of Grassy Ridge Bald. At roughly 1.9 miles the Appalachian Trail takes a turn towards the left. At this junction you'll see a side trail that continues straight ahead. This will take you to the summit of Grassy Ridge Bald - the trail cuts through rhododendron thickets. After a relatively stiff climb you reach the huge grassy meadows atop the peak. The panoramic views from the summit area are spectacular, giving you a feeling of the Swiss Alps. On a clear day you can see Grandfather, Beech and Sugar Mountains towards the east, and Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains towards the south. Grassy Ridge Bald dominates the center of Grassy Ridge. At an elevation of 6189 feet, it's one of the highest grassy balds in the Appalachian Mountains. Scattered throughout the meadows on the summit, as well as along most of the trail, you'll find beautiful specimens of rhododendron and flame azaleas, as well as many wild flowers along the route, including the rare Gray's Lily that is indigenous to the area. Many people say that this stretch of trail is the most beautiful section along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. Roan Mountain State Park encompasses 2,006 acres of southern Appalachian forest at the base of 6,285 foot Roan Mountain. Park elevation ranges from 3,000 feet in the valley to around 3,700 feet on surrounding ridges. The park is located on Highway 143 southeast of Johnson City, TN.Show more
#5 - Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls Trail
Gorges State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1486)
Length: 3.9 mi • Est. 2 h 5 m
This short hike along the Horsepasture River features outstanding views of 4 large waterfalls and good camping. Start the trail by descending on a moderate grade downhill. About a mile and a half down stream is the impressive Rainbow Falls. When viewing the falls from the top, extreme caution should be used, as every year or so, someone is seriously hurt or killed in this area. Continue down the river trail. At the 1.25 mile mark is a very nice clearing for tenting. After about 1/2 mile you can hear the rushing water of Turtleback Falls. This is a great place for a summer swim. Just downstream is Stair Step Falls. Backtrack back to the parking lot.Show more
#6 - Hawksbill Mountain Trail
Linville Gorge Wilderness
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(1257)
Length: 2.1 mi • Est. 51 m
Enjoy a quick 2-mile round trip that climbs over 600 feet feet through rhododendron to a craggy summit and 360 degree views of Linville Gorge and Pisgah National Forest. This hike to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain (elevation 4,009 ft) has an amazing payoff with panoramic views of the "canyon" of Linville Gorge - with the valley floor some 2,000 feet below you. On a clear day, you can even see the skyline of Charlotte - about 90 miles away! The short hike is strenuous with a climb of nearly 700 feet gain in elevation. After hiking Hawksbill, drive about five miles down the road to the trail to the top of Table Rock Mountain, the other dominant peak on the rim of Linville Gorge. You can see both of these peaks from the panoramic perch at Wiseman's View on the other side of the Gorge (near the trail to Linville Falls.) The trail to the summit of Hawksbill begins from the parking area on a unpaved Pisgah National Forest service road. After about an half mile, the summit trail turns left just before reaching the Jonas Ridge Trail (it's an obvious turn with a sign). From here, the summit trail gets progressively rockier and, after 1/4 mile, arrives at the ridge. Just before you reach the ridge, the hike splits. Either trail will take you to the top. The trail to the right is longer and more gradual. Go straight for a short, steep climb. At the top (at a popular camping spot), go to the right for the best views. Go to the left for a better view of Table Rock.Show more
#7 - Crabtree Falls Trail
Blue Ridge Parkway
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1240)
Length: 2.7 mi • Est. 1 h 4 m
SEASONAL ROAD CLOSURE: Weather conditions, maintenance projects or emergency events may cause temporary road closures along the parkway. For more information, please visit https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm The view is breathtaking and has many false summits. Good uphill, gets your heart going. If you are going during hunting season wear a bright color, there are many bear hunters in the area. Show more
#8 - Triple Falls Trail
Dupont State Forest
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1137)
Length: 2.9 mi • Est. 1 h 11 m
At the parking lot, cross the bridge and follow the clearly marked trail upstream and along the rivers edge. At about a third of one mile is the very scenic Triple Falls There is a trail that takes you to the middle of the 3 step falls. Extreme caution should be used in this area as well as any other trail near waterfalls in DuPont State Forest. At about the 1 mile mark the trail either continues to follow the river or veers right up the hill. For this hike stay left and continue to follow the river. This trail will bring you to the base of High Falls. Rock-hop across the base of the falls and proceed up the trail to the over-look for nice views. Proceed west and then turn left on the gravel road which crosses the top of the falls under a covered bridge. After a short distance turn left and follow the trail north along a nicely wooded trail until it ends at a large parking area for horse trailers. Cross the highway and take the Holly Trail to Hooker Falls: L to parking.Show more
#9 - Calloway Peak via Profile Trail
Grandfather Mountain State Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1199)
Length: 7.1 mi • Est. 3 h 52 m
The Calloway Peak via Profile Trail begins at the Profile Trail parking area at 4198 NC Hwy 105 N and ends at the Grandfather Trail at Calloway Gap. As it starts out as a scenic, rolling pathway through seasonal wildflowers, this trail crosses the Watauga River and travels under a hardwood canopy for much of its length. The upper sections, beginning around Foscoe View, get much steeper, and users should be prepared for some steep inclines. It is possible to see wildlife native to alpine North Carolina, such as Banner Elk. Shanty Spring, at 3.2 miles, marks a transition into a strenuous pathway of tumble-down rock that joins the Grandfather Trail after a climb of 0.4 mile. It makes the transition out of the hardwoods and into the Canadian fir zone of the crest area. The upper section is steep and rocky and calls for careful footwork; this section is not recommended for pets. Use extreme caution on stream crossings, and do not attempt in high water. During the wet season, this area is prone to heavy rain so it will be very slippery and muddy. There was good coverage though most of the way up, but the last half mile is very exposed and windy. The scrambling itself can be tough for new users, but experienced climbers will only be shocked by the strong winds which make this hike a unique challenge. We had absolutely no view at the top with all the clouds but had fun anyway. Our GPS had us at 11 miles by the time we got back to the car. It could have over counted a bit but this hike is definitely longer than 7.6 miles. Since there is also no potable water access for the entire hike, users need to bring water. As mentioned above, pets are not recommended since at the higher elevations, The terrain is tough and animals will have to be supported over the ladders. The way down isn't easy, either, and users will need to watch footwork as descending this never ending challenge, which is definitely a popular Grandfather Mountain attraction. Show more
#10 - Shortoff Mountain
Linville Gorge Wilderness
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(958)
Length: 5.5 mi • Est. 1 h 49 m
This is an unmarked section of wilderness hiking in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. From the base of Shortoff Mountain at the Wolfpit parking area, north to the base of the Chimney's is approximately five miles. Stunning views of the Gorge; plenty of spaces for camping (primitive / backcountry) and several water sources if you locate them ahead of time on a topo. Absolutely no blazes, but the trail is clear. Show more
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