The Best Hikes to Views

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

Here are what we consider to the best hikes to views in Western North Carolina.

With its abundance of forests and towering trees, clear vistas aren't a common part of your typical experience on this area's trails. So when a good view does present itself, there's almost always a trail leading to a place where you can take advantage of it.

Whether it's a gently sloping rock face or the top of a sheer cliff, you'll appreciate the sense of openness available at overlooks where the trees are thin or absent.

Bring your camera, because chance to see the mountains in all their glory are only available by hitting some of the trails described here!

Ridgewalk Hike

Easy Hike
  • Following the mostly level upper portion of the Bennet Gap trail, this is an easy hike along a ridge to some great views. It's one of the easiest true hikes into the kind of neat environment typical of a rugged Appalachian ridgetop that we could...
  • 1.4mi, Few Hills
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Craggy Gardens Hike

Easy Hike
  • This self-guiding nature trail passes through a high-elevation Northern Hardwood forest to a Heath Bald, and finally into a Grassy Summit. A large trail shelter makes an excellent spot for a picnic. Visit during mid to late June for a spectacular...
  • 1.4mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Craggy Pinnacle Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This popular trail climbs a short distance from a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook to a high, rocky peak with commanding views of the Craggy Gardens area. Blooming rhododendrons put on a fantastic display along this trail in late June. Twisted trees grow...
  • 1.4mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Linville Falls - Erwin's View Hike

Moderate Hike
  • 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...
  • 1.5mi, Few Hills
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Summit and Rhododendron Trail Loop Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This mountaintop self-guiding nature trail, which is also a Kids In Parks TRACK trail, is a gem in North Carolina's northwest corner. You'll see virgin Northern Red Oak forests at an elevation near 5000 ft., as you stroll through an understory of...
  • 1.5mi, Few Hills
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

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

Table Rock Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • The hike to Table Rock is not actually a wilderness trail - being one of the few developed, maintained, and signed trails just outside the wilderness boundary on the gorge's rim. But the views into the Gorge are spectacular, and from the top, you'll...
  • 2.0mi, Climbs Steeply
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

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

Potato Knob Fields Hike

Moderate Hike
  • 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...
  • 2mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Sam Knob Hike

Moderate Hike
  • 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...
  • 2.2mi, 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

Devil's Courthouse Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This hike takes you to the summit of Devil's Courthouse, a high-elevation rocky summit with a fantastic cliff-top overlook. But this isn't the usual route used by most casual tourists, which is a paved trail starting at a Parkway overlook. Rather,...
  • 4.3mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

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

Snowball Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • Not to be confused with Hawksbill Mountain in the Linville Gorge, Hawkbill Rock is an outcrop along the ridge between Snowball and Little Snowball Mountains in the Great Craggy Mountains range which makes a great destination for a day hike. The...
  • 2.75mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

John Rock Loop Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • This hike takes you past a small but attractive waterfall, up to the top of John Rock, which is the large mountain you see looming behind the Fish Hatchery parking area in Pisgah National Forest. Views of the valley below, up to the Pisgah Ridge, and...
  • 5mi, Climbs Steeply
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Chimney Rock Tour Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • The short description of this hike could simply be "Hike all of Chimney Rock's trails!" Though Chimney Rock may resemble a theme park more than it does a wilderness, the trail network provides a way to enjoy the park from a more natural perspective....
  • 4.5mi, Climbs Steeply
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Looking Glass Rock Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • This hike takes you to the top of a Pisgah National Forest icon: the huge granitic pluton known as Looking Glass Rock. Visible from many locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway and found on postcards in every gift shop in the region, the summit of the...
  • 6.4mi, Climbs Steeply
  • 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

Panthertown Valley Tour Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • This is a large loop with a wide variety of main attractions. The trails will take you past lazy, meandering streams with clean white sandbars, yet you'll discover 5 major waterfalls as well. You'll explore the unusual, flat-bottomed, high-elevation...
  • 8.8 - 10.0mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Green Knob Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • This hike takes you along the Mountains to Sea Trail in a remote section of the Pisgah National Forest. The entire hike is above 5000' in elevation, and you'll explore forests of oaks, birches, beeches, spruces and firs. You'll cross the headwaters...
  • 9mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles