The Best Hikes to Historic Sites

Hikes By Features: Waterfalls | Views | Historic Sites | Kids and Families

Western North Carolina is dotted with interesting and varied historic sites, many of which lie on public lands.

Here are the best hikes take you to areas of particular historic interest.

You may find artifacts, ruins, historic markers, or other signs to indicate areas with a notable connection to their past.

Each hike has its own printable guide page with all the information and links, including (where available):

  • directions to the starting point
  • difficulty
  • length
  • elevation change
  • a map
  • photos from along the way, and
  • a detailed description and trail directions.

Here are the hikes, organized roughly from easiest to hardest.

Camp Alice/Commissary Hike

Easy Hike
  • This is a wonderful hike that is both easier and less often used than the summit trail or the nature trail, offering a chance for silence and solitude. There's no lack of scenery compared to the summit area trails, though - high altitude, alpine...
  • 2.0 - 3.6mi, Climbs Gently
  • Tread Condition: Few Obstacles

Rattlesnake Lodge Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This pleasant hike takes you to the ruins of a historic private lodge along a section of the Mountains to Sea Trail. It's 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...
  • 2.8mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Mount Pisgah Hike

Moderate Hike
  • 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, which lends its name to numerous other things throughout the region. Mount Pisgah is part of the...
  • 3mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Whiteside Mountain Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This excellent loop, designated a National Recreation Trail, climbs to the top of Whiteside Mountain, with its spectacular 700 ft high cliff walls lofting the hiker for amazing views. Take a camera, as the cliff-top views are lined with beautiful...
  • 2.5mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Old Mitchell Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • Don't be like the rest of the tourists and drive to the top: take a real hike to the summit of Mount Mitchell! This moderate trail climbs from the Park Office roughly 2 miles to the summit along a beautiful trail that is both historic and yet...
  • 4mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Pink Beds Loop Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This relatively flat loop hike - which features a shortcut option - is all about water. 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...
  • 5.1mi, Few Hills
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Stone Mountain Loop Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • Passing three of the most sought-out points in the park - the summit of Stone Mountain, the Hutchinson Homestead, and Stone Mountain Falls - this hike is as varied as the park itself. A moderate climb through open, pleasant woods gives way to more...
  • 4.5mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Mount Mitchell Hike

Most Difficult Hike
  • Starting at the Black Mountain Campground on the Toe River, this hike gains 3600' in elevation over 5 1/2 miles to reach the summit of the East's highest peak, making it one of the toughest continuous climbs in the region, near the limit of what most...
  • 11.4mi, Climbs Steeply
  • Tread Condition: Very Rough