The Best Moderate Hikes in Western North Carolina

Hikes by Difficulty: Easy | Moderate | More Difficult | Most Difficult

This page includes all Moderate hikes. Click any Climb or Tread rating for details about the ratings.

Summit and Rhododendron Trail Loop

1.5mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Few Hills
  • Tread Condition: Few Hills

This mountaintop self-guiding nature trail is a gem in North Carolina's northwest corner. You'll see virgin Northern Red Oak forests at an elevation near 5000', as you stroll through an understory of Catawba rhododendron, which put on a showy display during June. And at one of the most spectacular of several cliff-top views, you'll find a heath bald with rare plant species - as well as a displaced Aspen forest!

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Craggy Pinnacle

1.4mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Climbs Moderately

This popular trail climbs a short distance from a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook to a high, rocky peak overlooking the Craggy Gardens area. Blooming rhododendrons put on a fantastic display along this trail in late June. Twisted trees grow in the high-elevation Birch forest. Spectacular 360 degree views of the Visitor Center, the North Fork Reservoir, and the sourrounding mountains and valleys reward your climb.

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Linville Falls - Erwin's View

1.5mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Few Hills
  • Tread Condition: Few Hills

Linville Falls has two mail trails: Erwin's view and Plunge Basin. Erwin's view is the easier of the two, and stops at three main overlooks: Upper Falls, Chimney View, and the eponymous Erwin's View. This trail passes through a majestic forest of old-growth hemlock and white pines, to spectacular cliff-top views of one of the most scenic and photographed waterfalls in the East. Spectacular views of the falls, the surrounding mountains, and the Linville Gorge await.

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Sam Knob

2.2mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Climbs Moderately

At the top of an imposing mountain peak located at the edge of the Shining Rock Wilderness, spectacular views await! A surprisingly nice, easy trail wraps around this mountain to its grassy, partly bald summit. Hike in the late summer and enjoy a snack of mountain blueberries along the way. Any time of year, enjoy one of the finest short hikes and easiest true "summit" trails in the mountains! This is an excellent hike for a hot day; temperatures rarely climb above the mid 70's since you start at one of the highest altitude trailheads in the region, at nearly 6000 ft.

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Flat Laurel Creek

2.5mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Climbs Gently
  • Tread Condition: Climbs Gently

This loop takes you around the headwaters basin of Flat Laurel Creek, which starts in a unique, high-elevation valley surrounded by sharp peaks, grassy balds, and cool, dark, spruce-fir forests. Its elevation is over 5300 ft at the bottom, and it lies below Sam Knob and Black Balsam Knob which top out at over 6200 ft. Includes optional side-hikes to the summit of Sam Knob and a waterfall on Flat Laurel Creek. This hike makes a great alternative to the better known, but more crowded, Graveyard Fields area just east of here.

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Graveyard Fields

3.2mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Hilly

A unique loop trail winds through this high-elevation, flat valley. Two spurs lead to some of the most photographed and enjoyed waterfalls in the state! You'll pass through alpine-like meadows, stands of Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron, and young northern hardwood forests. Between the falls is a relaxing, lazy section of stream. This is a truly unique and highly recommended hike!

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Pink Beds Loop

5.1mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Few Hills
  • Tread Condition: Few Hills

This hike loops you around a unique, flat, high-elevation valley. You'll see rare mountain bogs, including glimpses of some rare and endangered species of plants if you're lucky. You'll pass through a forest in transition, as beavers have dammed the South Fork Mills River to form their ponds, which are drowing out the trees. You'll also find crystal clear brooks, wildlife meadows, and scenic fern-filled woods. This forest is one of the first to ever be managed through modern forestry techniques, earning it the nickname "The Cradle of Forestry in America."

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Rattlesnake Lodge

2.6mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Climbs Moderately

This pleasant hike, on a section of the Mountains to Sea Trail, is close to the City of Asheville, making it a nice option if you're in the area and don't have a lot of drive time. A well-designed trail goes through a multitude of switchbacks, following an old wagon route. The wagon route was built to reach a historic private lodge, the remains of which you'll find at the end of this hike. Explore the old toolshed, the tennis courts, or the water supply pond, now long since grown over with thick, lush, Appalachian forests.

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Potato Knob Fields

2mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Climbs Moderately

Potato Knob is a rocky, prominent peak visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, many points in the foothills region, and along I-40. It is a well-known area landmark. This hike takes you on a spectacular section of the Mountains to Sea Trail below the peak, with views both up and down. It travels to some scenic meadows on a slope below the summit. You'll go through a pleasant spruce-fir forest, some of which was planted as a reforestation effort after the mountains were logged. The trail itself is a marvel, as gigantic rocks have been moved to form the trail surface. This trail is suitable for families with older children; younger kids may have difficulty on some of the rocky sections.

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Crabtree Falls

2.5mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Hilly

This popular, short loop descends on a moderate path to a majestic 70' waterfall, which is widely touted as one of the most photogenic in the area. You'll climb steeply up the opposite ridge for a short distance, then hike a wide, smooth trail beside the stream. Many very large trees populate the forest in this area. Finish out the loop by climbing gently through a beautiful hardwood forest. The hike starts in a Blue Ridge Parkway campground, which makes a good base camp for further explorations into the area. You'll share this trail with many others during the summer, but if it's winter (and especially if the gate is closed), you'll likely have it all to yourself.

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Whiteside Mountain

2.5mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Hilly

This excellent loop, designated a National Recreation Trail, climbs to the top of Whiteside Mountain, with its spectacular 700' high cliff walls lofting the hiker for amazing views. Take a camera, as the cliff-top views are lined with beautiful mountain laurel which blooms in mid-june. See relics from the past, when Whiteside Mountain was a tourist attraction. You'll pass through some pleasant woods along the way.

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Mount Pisgah

3mi, Moderate

  • Climbing: Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Climbs Moderately

A classic Blue Ridge Parkway hike, this trail continues onto National Forest land to climb to the summit of one of the area's most well-known peaks. Easily visible from most of downtown Asheville, Mount Pisgah's 5721' summit supports the transmission tower for WLOS-TV, channel 13. The trail itself is a rocky, steep climb through Northern hardwood forests, and rhododendron and mountain laurel tunnels, to the summit, where 360 degree views await!

Details and Map | Photos

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