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Five Quick Hikes Near Asheville

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If you’re looking for quick hikes near Asheville, then you’ve come to the right place! Asheville is the epicenter of outdoor exploration in Western North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway passes just south of the city, providing a vein of adventure that’s easily accessible. For those who love hiking, there are thousands of miles of trails within reach for all experience levels. If you’re like me and looking for a few easy hikes that won’t take all day, its hard to beat these five quick hikes near Asheville.

All of these hikes are within an hour of downtown Asheville and easily reachable from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Check them out and let me know which one you plan on tackling in the comments!

Devil’s Courthouse for Amazing Views Near Asheville

Looking out from the top of Devil’s Courthouse. Courtesy of Tom Schafer/Shutterstock.com

Starting with the trail furthest west from Asheville, is Devil’s Courthouse. The pullout and overlook is located at mile marker 422. The overlook itself is a gorgeous view of the mountain valley below, but nothing compared to what you’ll find when you venture to the top.

The hike begins on the east side of the parking area and spends almost the entire length ascending. A majority of the trail is paved which makes for an easy hike along this portion. If you arrive on a foggy day like I did, you’ll encounter some fairly spooky conditions along the trail. Though be warned that if the cloud cover is low you’ll lose the gorgeous views.

Paved portion of Devil's Courthouse trail. This is one of the best quick hikes near Asheville.
If you’re here in October, Devil’s Courthouse could make for the perfect spooky hike

Once you reach the end of the paved trail, it’ll veer to the right and continue its climb to the top. This final portion is rugged but not difficult nor very long. Once you reach the very top, you’ll be treated to one of the best views along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Devil’s Courthouse is one of the best quick hikes near Asheville for sunrise or sunset.

Graveyard Fields for Quick Hike to a Waterfall Near Asheville

As you continue to head east, it won’t be long until you come across your next quick hike near Asheville. Graveyard Fields has an extensive system of trails and it would be easy to spend an entire day here. Depending on how long you want to spend at Graveyard Fields or how much time you have in the day, you have two quick hikes on offer.

The shorter hike will take you directly to Second Falls. Head to the trail head on the right of the parking area. This trail will quickly descend about 100 feet as it crosses through the forest. Once you reach the Yellowstone Prong, you’ll cross the river and head to the right. The short trail will take you to the bottom of this incredibly impressive waterfall. The area is extremely popular in summer, so be prepared to hike it earlier in the day.

View of Second Falls from the Graveyard Fields Trail. Another great quick hike near Asheville.
Second Falls is an easy hike just off the Blue Ridge Parkway

For a slightly longer trek, take the trail head that starts on the left of the parking area. This is a much more gradual descent into the valley, though the overall elevation is the same. Shortly after crossing the river, you’ll come to an intersection. Head to the right and continue following the trail through the lowland areas. A good portion of this has a wooden boardwalk which makes it an easy walk. When you reach Lower Falls, continue down to the bottom of the falls before returning via the hike above.

The boardwalk through Graveyard Fields. Courtesy of Joshua Rice Photography/Shutterstock.com

Graveyard Fields is one of the more popular quick hikes near Asheville, so be mindful of this when heading out. However, at the right time its a fantastic hike for all ages and skill levels so I highly recommend it.

Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Gives a Unique Vantage Point

Located only a little ways to the west of the amazing Pisgah Inn, Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower is likely the least traversed hike on this list. Yet, it will provide the most unique views of any hike on this list because none of the others lead you to a forestry service lookout tower!

Keep your eyes sharp as you drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you’re heading east (coming from Graveyard Fields perhaps) the pull off will be located to your left. It’s easy to miss as it isn’t a traditional parking area like many of the other hikes. Once you’ve pulled out, make sure you don’t block the gate.

The hike itself follows the Forestry Service road for its entire 3/4 mile length. It is a steady climb uphill, but not difficult at all thanks to the nice level road. During the summer the surrounding fields will be full of flowers and berries; it’s nearly as lovely as the vista itself.

From the the Forestry Service Tower. Courtesy of Eifel Kreutz/Shutterstock.com

Once you reach the tower make the climb to the top. Though the former living quarters are locked, there are plenty of excellent landings that you can stop on to enjoy the gorgeous views. When you’ve finished enjoying the view, just follow the trail back to your car and continue on for more quick hikes near Asheville.

Craggy Gardens has Multiple Quick Hikes

Once you’ve completed the three hikes to the west of Asheville, you can stop in the city to grab a quick lunch before heading east on the Blue Ridge. Craggy Gardens is the location of two gorgeous and quick hikes near Asheville. These two hikes begin just a little ways apart from each other, with the first at the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center and the second at the Craggy Dome overlook.

The easiest of the two hikes takes you into the eponymous Craggy Gardens. This trail winds its way through the thick green forest. It is a rough trail, but not very difficult to navigate with little elevation change through out most of its course. As you finish the first 1/4 of a mile you’ll come upon a wooden pavillion where you can take a quick rest. From here you can explore the summit via the maze of trails, or continue onward for the last mile to a wonderful picnic area at the end of the trail. This is an out and back hike so when you’ve rested enough, just return the way you came.

The beautiful Craggy Gardens trail is one of the most scenic of quick hikes near Asheville.
The wooden pavilion along the Craggy Gardens hike. Courtesy of Cvandyke/Shutterstock.com

Alternatively, you can venture to the Craggy Gardens pinnacle. This trail is actually the shorter of the two, but provides an entirely different view than the first. This trail begins at the Craggy Dome overlook and is just over 3/4 of a mile and covers more than 200 feet of elevation change. You’ll venture to one of the best overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway and a real gem of quick hikes near Asheville.

Mount Mitchell, the Tallest Mountain East of the Mississippi

The final location on this list includes two different ways of reaching the top of Mount Mitchell. This mountain just an hour outside of Asheville is the tallest east of the Mississippi River. When you stand upon the summit, you become the highest thing east of the Mississippi River too!

My picture with the Mount Mitchell sign at over 6684ft. Perfect way to spend a day doing this quick hikes near Asheville.
Grab your picture with the sign. 6684 feet!

The easiest way to reach the summit is by taking North Carolina State Road 128. This stretch of blacktop reaches all of the way to a visitor center near the summit. From this point, the way to the summit is entirely paved but still covers some decent inclines. When you reach the top, grab your picture with the Mount Mitchell sign then head onto the platform for the most expansive views on the east coast.

Panoramic views from the top of Mount Mitchell. The highest of the quick hikes near Asheville.
A great place to grab a panorama!

For those who want more of a challenge in reaching the summit, or have some extra time thanks to all the other quick hikes, check out the Mount Mitchell High Loop. Starting at the Mount Mitchell Restaurant, this trail will wind its way through the forest towards the summit. At 2.5 miles, this is easily the longest trail on this list. It also features the largest elevation gain, because the climb to the top is steady and over 580 feet! Be prepared for the challenge and if you’re wanting the amazing views without that effort, then drive to the top.

Along the Mount Mitchell High Loop Trail. Courtesy of J. Bicking/Shutterstock.com

Going Beyond Quick Hikes Near Asheville

Hiking is just one of many fun things to do in Asheville! Asheville is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Not only can you find the quick hikes near Asheville listed above, but there are countless others along the Blue Ridge and in the surrounding area. Drive the Pisgah Forest Loop for a day full of great hikes and a chance to visit the wonderfully quaint town of Brevard. Once you’ve finished your hikes, spend a day in Asheville proper and try all of the amazing breweries in Beer City! If its the middle of summer, head out on the French Broad river for some refreshing tubing. No matter what you enjoy, Asheville has it on offer.

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11 Responses

  1. I love hiking and have been wanting to go to Ashville soon. These pictures are all gorgeous. I love lookout towers, so this would definitely be on my list! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Love these ideas, and North Carolina is on my list of states to which I hope to return. That moody shot of Devil’s Courthouse is impressive. October would be a lovely time to travel to the Carolinas, so maybe I’ll be able to recreate it!

  3. I sure wish we could travel to North Carolina right now. It was great to read that there are hike paths available for all experience levels. And so much great outdoor space! Ashvilles sounds like the perfect base to access a number of hike trails. I love hikes that give you waterfall views! Or great panoramic vistas.

  4. I love North Carolina. Most of the time I spend there is at the beach. I have never been hiking anywhere in the state, but I love driving through its gorgeous landscape! The views that these hikes provide are breathtaking!

  5. Wow, these short hikes near Asheville sounds quite interesting. I specially like the names of these hikes – Devil’s Courthouse and Graveyard Fields. The name itself has a spooky feel to it. The wooden pavilion at Craggy Garden looks so beautiful. I can hike all day to reach here. I love outdoors and I am sure that i would definitely enjoy these hikes in Asheville.

  6. What a choice of hikes for the adventurous near Asheville! I would love to be able to fly to North Carolina now and try some of those hikes. Ashville looks like good starting point and my top choice would be the hike to the Second Falls! 🙂

  7. Oh wow! These mountains look fantastic! I didn’t realize there was so much hiking in this area. I would love to spend some time in this area of the country. Beautiful!

  8. We’ve done some hiking hear and there & realized that quick hikes are best for us. LOL Your photos are amazingly beautiful! We’ve never been to Asheville, but would love to someday.

  9. This looks amazing. I have only ever been to the Biltmore in Asheville but I so want to go back there some day. It is such a beautiful area. Thanks for putting this together!

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