While some travelers flock to Western North Carolina for the spectacular fall foliage and mountain vistas, others come to take advantage of the region’s incredible hiking trails. We invite you to explore our mountains and find relaxation in the beauty of nature. It’s the perfect way to slow things down, clear your mind, enjoy the fresh air, and get some exercise in the process. Discover the best places to go hiking in North Carolina and embark on a beautiful journey during your next visit to Chimney Rock.
Just don’t leave home without exploring our free Vacation Guide. We packed it with local tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your time in Western North Carolina. Plus, it simplifies your planning so that you can spend more time on what matters — experiencing the magnificence of the mountains.
The Top Trails for Hiking in North Carolina
Little Bradley Falls & Big Bradley Falls | Easy
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!
Upper Hickory Nut Gorge | Easy
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.
Bearwallow Mountain Trail | Moderate
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 State Park | Moderate
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 3/4-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 | Moderate
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 3.5-mile loop in the woods with creek crossings, lovely views, and a fun boulder field for hiking breaks.
Little Bearwallow Falls Trail | Difficult
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 2.5-miles long round trip and made up made of stepping stones, clear trail markers, and bridges over water.
Northern Peaks Trail | Difficult
The most difficult hike on our list, The Northern Peaks Trail is an 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.
Mount Mitchell | Difficult
The tallest mountain in the eastern United States is Mount Mitchell, a towering peak that measures 6,684 feet. It is also home to a wide range of wildlife, miles of trails, and a unique climate not often found in the region.
After a full day of hiking in Western North Carolina, we invite you to return to The Esmeralda for some well-deserved rest in Chimney Rock. Our property features stunning vistas, a casual dining room, and a convenient location near the top local attractions, including state parks and hiking trails. You have a variety of cozy accommodations to choose from, and they come with top-notch amenities. Plus, you get to wake up to a complimentary breakfast each morning. With so much to offer, The Esmeralda has everything you need and more for a memorable vacation.
Check our availability and book your stay today. We can’t wait to hear about your adventures in the great outdoors!