The Best Day Hikes on North Carolina's Mountains to Sea Trail

North Carolina's Mountains to Sea Trail is one of the premier hiking trails in the Southeast. Designed to eventually span over 900 miles, from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the coast on the Outer Banks at Jockey's Ridge, it can certainly be used for long overnight and even multi-month through-hikes.

Soft Sunset Light on Walker Knob
Soft light near sunset falls on the lush green ferns, moss, and big trees beside the Mountains to Sea Trail near Walker Knob.
MST near Craven Gap in Asheville
MST near Craven Gap in Asheville

Yet most of the Mountains to Sea Trail's use comes from shorter day-hikes, either out-and-back along a segment of the trail or by using a portion of it in combination with connecting trails. The following are some of the best day hikes to be found along the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST). Each of these hikes uses at least a segment of the MST, but may continue onto other trails as well.

Choose a hike for all the details you need to make this your next trip!

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

Skinny Dip Falls Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This moderate, short hike takes you to an appealing waterfall and swimming hole on the Yellowstone Prong of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River. It makes a great summer swimming destination, a great way to stretch your legs if you're traveling the...
  • 0.8mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

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

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

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: Moderately Rough

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