Most of my favorite Asheville area day hikes are located along the Blue Ridge Parkway or I-40, both of which are easily accessible from downtown Asheville and the surrounding towns. The hikes vary in difficulty and length, but they all offer spectacular mountain views and fresh air.
Biltmore Estate Trails
If you love the Biltmore House, make your next visit a full day trip and explore the rest of the expansive grounds and nearly 22 miles of hiking trails. You can walk through manicured garden paths, along the French Broad River, or through the fields. Visit the Outdoor Adventure Center in Antler Hill Village for the full lineup of outdoor activities and your detailed trail maps. The nearby Bike Barn also offers cruiser bike rentals for a paved path along the river and mountain bike rentals for the more rugged trails.
This shady 3 mile Asheville day hike offers an easily walkable trail that culminates with the 100 foot tall Catawba Falls. The hike includes several Catawba River crossings, so dress accordingly. If the water is low, you will not get your feet wet, but the rocks can be slippery either way- so proper outdoor shoes are advised. For more details, read the full trail details!
Max Patch Mountain
Take a picnic and soak up the sweeping views of both Tennessee and North Carolina The Appalachian Trail cuts through Max Patch and if you visit in the spring or early summer, you might see a thru-hiker or two making their way across the bald. To get to the top, you have two options: a 1.4 mile straight-to-the-top trail and a 2.4 mile loop trail. You can easily combine this hike with a trip to nearby Hot Springs for a soak in a natural mineral hot tub.
The trailhead parking lot is often crowded and you can find families lunching at picnic tables. If you don’t mind the crowds, you are in for one of the best panoramic views in Asheville. Even the drive to Craggy Gardens along the Blue Ridge parkway is beautiful. To experience the rhododendron blossoms at their pink and purple peak, plan your visit for mid June. This 1.5 mile Asheville day hike is just a 20 mile drive from downtown and offers a huge reward for such a mild trail!
The full loop is 4 miles round trip from the Blue Ridge Parkway overlook and features two waterfalls along the way. The valley is brimming with wildflowers and interesting foliage. Look up to take in the 6,000 foot peaks that surround you on all sides. Visit in early October for peak fall colors since this area is one of the first to transition each year.
Sam Knob & Black Balsam Knob
Black Balsam Knob is part of the Art Loeb trail, so you can walk as far as you would like on this Asheville day hike. The first bald is just a half mile up the trail! Since much of the trail is not covered by trees (they don’t grow at the 6,000 ft+ altitude), bring your sunscreen and enjoy the 360 degree views.
Sam Knob is just a hop away and features a moderate loop trail along the edge of the Shining Rock Wilderness. The climb is gradual, but you will gain about 570 feet from the base to the top. The pay-off for your efforts is a colorful Blue Ridge Mountain view at the top. This is another great Asheville day hike that is perfect for a picnic!
Lake Junaluska Walking Trail
(Wheelchair, Scooter, and Walker Accessible)
The lakeside walking trail at Lake Junaluska offers a highly accessible Asheville day “hike” / walk for those using wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or strollers. As you walk, you will enjoy the historic buildings along the lake! The Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center is affiliated with the Methodist Church, but is open to the public-- all are welcomed.