As a public relations and digital marketing agency in Asheville, NC, we spend A LOT of time staring at the computer each day but we also make sure to get out on the trails in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina for adventure and time offline. With the onset of spring and longer hours of daylight, we’ve all been itching to spend even more time on our favorite, less popular trails away from the crowds of people who flock to the Asheville area. Below our team shares their top spots to escape for a hike, bike, or trail run.
Ashleigh (AT in Hot Springs) – I love making the 45-minute drive from Asheville to Hot Springs to hike along the Appalachian Trail. Most hikers head north along the trail toward Lover’s Leap, but if you want to have the trail almost to yourself, head south from town instead. It’s not quite as scenic, but a six-mile roundtrip will get you to an AT shelter and back—a perfect place to stop and have lunch or a snack. Speaking of snacks…the Artisun Gallery and Cafe in town (1/3 art gallery, 1/3 coffee shop, 1/3 ice cream parlor) is the perfect place to treat yourself after your hike!
Coral (Big Laurel River) – I love hiking the Big Laurel over in Hot Springs. I jump on at Stackhouse, head downriver on the railroad tracks for about a half-mile and then take a right onto the trail. This gorgeous meandering single track follows the Big Laurel River for miles without much elevation gain. This low country trail provides me with the opportunity to get lost in my thoughts without losing my breath.
Dan (Rock Creek Falls) – This was maybe the first hike I went on after everything shut down last year. I had heard that lots of local trails were getting slammed, so I was looking for some obscure places to check out. Rock Creek Falls, which I had never even heard of before, was in the sweet spot of being out in the middle of nowhere, yet only 50 minutes from town–closer than some of my other favorite spots! It’s a nice little out-and-back to the falls, but you can take the trail all the way up to Unaka Mountain and the AT if you’re feeling ambitious.
Suzanne (Deerfield Loop) – For me, it’s less about escaping the crowds and more about finding kid-friendly hikes at this stage in the game. We’ve got a 5-year-old who can hold her own on the trail and a 2-year-old who will still tolerate being in a pack for at least part of the hike, but also likes to “hike” along with us. That means we need relatively moderate elevation gains and trails that offer enough space to safely move to the side to let faster hikers pass. Right now, our spring go-tos include a Fairview favorite, Bearwallow Mountain (popular hike but plenty of space up top to distance), a nearby section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Deerfield Loop trail around Lake Powhatan (bonus points for the “beach” feature there).
Angie (Pinnacle Mountain Trail) – Living north of town, we’ve spent a lot of time this spring in Tennessee hiking and biking. The trails aren’t nearly as crowded and the drive is the same as if we were to go to some of the more popular trails in the Asheville area. One of my favorite rides we did (even though my husband would laugh to read this because I complained the entire ride to the top) was Pinnacle Mountain Trail. The view at the top of the fire tower is pretty amazing and then you get to ride downhill all the way back to the car on well-groomed trails. There were also people hiking and trail running on this trail, so you can really do a variety of activities here!
Cory (Carvers Gap) – When the weather looks nice and we’re ready for a sinuous mountain drive, we pile in the Subaru and head for the Tennessee-North Carolina border to Carvers Gap. It’s hard to beat the expansive Roan Mountain views, and the hike provides a little bit of everything from shady fir forests to sun-drenched balds. Plus, the doggos like to sneak a little trail charcuterie when it comes time for a lunch break.