Your Ultimate Guide to the Greatest Hiking in North Carolina

Whether you’re an avid explorer or simply looking for a fun adventure during your visit, you’ll find some of the best opportunities for hiking in North Carolina just minutes from the Esmeralda Inn. In fact, Chimney Rock State Park and Hickory Nut Gorge are known for their incredible hiking trails! While it’s impossible to choose the absolute best, we’ve narrowed down the list to just some of our personal favorites. Lace on your hiking boots and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Find even more hiking in North Carolina when you download your free copy of our Chimney Rock Vacation Guide. It’s filled with only the best recommendations for local activities and attractions that you won’t want to miss during your getaway to North Carolina.

Your Guide to the Best Hiking in North Carolina

Our region is practically brimming with opportunities for exploration. The unique terrain and abundance of awe-inspiring scenery make hiking in North Carolina a truly rewarding experience. Below are just some of our area’s most popular hiking trails that you won’t want to miss.

Easy Hikes

The Donald Ross Nature Park offers a short trail where you’ll encounter informative stops on the well-maintained path through beautiful North Carolina forest. This is the perfect hike for an easy stroll and family-friendly adventure.

If you’re looking for hiking trails in NC with waterfalls, Little Bradley Falls and Big Bradley Falls are two gorgeous trails that you’ve got to take! These short treks are approximately two miles long and lead to two stunning waterfalls. Don’t forget your cameras! You’ll surely want to snap a few photos of the 50 ft. and 100 ft. tall cascades!

Florence Nature Preserve at the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Trailhead is a scenic, wooded trail that runs parallel to creeks, waterfalls, and old cabin ruins. It also has several loops, the longest of which is nine miles.

Moderate Hikes

Bearwallow Mountain Trail is arguably the area’s most popular trail! This is mainly due to the fact that it leads to the top of the highest mountain in the area, providing jaw-dropping views. Plus, the trek itself is a breeze at only two miles, making it simple for hikers of all experience levels to enjoy. What’s even better? It’s pet-friendly! The trail is great for dogs on a leash, so bring your four-legged friend along for the adventure.

Chimney Rock, North Carolina hiking is another great option for visitors seeking a challenge. If you want to see a 400-foot waterfall, then head down the ¾-mile long Hickory Nut Falls Trail.  Another frequently visited route is the Exclamation Point Trail.  It takes you to the top of the mountain with views that will take your breath away. There is an entry fee for this trail, but we promise that it is well worth it!

Buffalo Creek Park offers an array of ways to enjoy the nature of North Carolina. From hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and even trail running, you’ll find no shortage of things to do. The trail is a 3 ½-mile loop in the woods with creek crossings, lovely views, and a fun boulder field for hiking breaks.

Difficult Hikes

The hike to Little Bearwallow Falls is a relatively new trail, but it has quickly grown to become one of the most popular. You’ll travel up a 100-foot cliff to a fantastic spot for viewing the falls. where The strenuous trail is about 2 ½-miles long round trip and made up made of stepping stones, clear trail markers, and bridges over water.

The most difficult hike on our list, The Northern Peaks Trail is eight-mile round-trip journey. While it may be challenging, it grants you serious bragging rights if you can finish it! Plus, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views throughout the hike.

The tallest mountain in the eastern United States is Mount Mitchell, a towering peak that measures in at 6,684 feet. It is also home to wide range of wildlife, miles of trails, and a unique climate not often found in the region.

Rest Your Feet and Relax at The Esmeralda

After an exhilarating day of hiking in North Carolina, we invite you to stay at The Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant. Our Chimney Rock Inn is surrounded by incredible parks, beautiful waterfalls, and endless places to explore. Lake Lure, Chimney Rock State Park, and Asheville are all just minutes away. Each of our rooms and cabins features top-notch amenities and are designed with your ultimate comfort in mind. No matter which of our accommodations you choose, we guarantee that your stay will be one for the books!

During your visit, you can expect to start off each morning with a complimentary breakfast. Then, come tell us all about your hiking adventures over a delicious meal at our on-site restaurant. Other on-site amenities include our bubbling Jacuzzi and spa, outdoor patio, game room, and more. Make sure to take advantage of our current specials and book your stay today. We can’t wait to welcome you!