Western North Carolina Trails
This section includes details about all the individual named trails on this site.
A trail is distinguished from a hike in that hikes may use more than one trail, only part of a trail, or connections along roads between different trails.
Find a Trail
Each trail listing has its own bookmarkable page to make it easy to find later, with all of its stats, photos, and a map (where available).
For a Hike
Sticking to an individual named trail doesn't always make for the most enjoyable hike, so first, we'll suggest an alternative to doing extensive trail research: for full and complete guides to the best hikes in the region that stitch these trails together, see our Best Hikes section.
The listings below are most useful for researching raw information to make your own day hikes or overnight loops out of the trail network.
To find trails by location, visit the Trailheads section of the site. Each Trailhead has a trails listing of all the trails in the network near that location.
You can also search for a trail if you know its name.
By a List of All Trails
You can also browse a list of all trails.
About Our Trail Listings
Trails are listed by their official name given by the managing land agency. We list, where available, the steepness, tread condition, and overall difficulty of the trail, as well as its length and overall elevation change.
Trail length is one-way. If you are hiking a single trail out-and-back, then double the length. While some guides show the round-trip length by default, many people's hikes combine trails or use only portions of trails, so the most accurate thing for us to do is just list a trail's actual length.
The US Forest Service, among others, separates trails into just three difficulty levels. We think that's a bit condensed given the variety of trails we have in our region. Even ski slopes usually have at least 4 difficulty ratings!
So, we have devised four difficulty levels for all of the trail and hike listings on this site. Here's a description of typical conditions you might find on hikes with a given difficulty level.
|Gentle climbs and descents with a relatively smooth surface, sometimes on pavement or other trail structures. No tricky water crossings or exposed cliffs. Some trails may be wheelchair and stroller accessible. Family-friendly meaning almost anyone including smaller children should be able to complete these.|
|Some climbs and descents with a few obstacles on the trail surface. May contain water crossing that are not overly difficult and occasional exposure to drop-offs beside the trail that aren't too risky. Most people with some experience hiking including older children should be able to complete these.|
|Significant climbs and descents with considerable elevation change, but short of the hardest trails in the region. A trail surface that can be somewhat rough in places, but short of dangerous climbing or rock scrambling. May contain tricky water crossings and some exposure to cliffs and drop-offs beside the trail. Experienced day hikers in good shape should be able to complete these.|
|Large climbs and descents with high elevation change. A trail surface that can be very rough in places, including possibly dangerous exposure to cliffs and drop-offs, and rock scrambling. May contain very tricky water crossings. Only experienced day hikers and backpackers in excellent shape should attempt to complete these.|
This does not take in to effect the overall elevation change on the trail (which is listed separately), but factors in more the way in which the elevation is achieved. Very short sections of the trail that are out-of-character for the rest don't affect this rating, but will be mentioned in the description.
|Level||No appreciable sustained climbs. The trail may not be completely flat, but it is atypically so for the mountain region.|
|Climbs Gently||A general slope from one end of the trail to the other. No sections are considered steep.|
|Climbs Moderately||A general slope from one end of the trail to the other. Some sections may be moderately steep, but the trail is not extremely so overall.|
|Climbs Steeply||A general trend from one end of the trail to the other. Some sections may be extremely steep, and the trail may be very steep overall.|
|Few Hills||No general trend from one end to the other, but contains gentle to moderate climbs and descents along its length.|
|Hilly||No general trend from one end to the other, but contains moderate to steep climbs and descents along its length.|
This characterizes the general condition of the worst parts of the trail surface. Very short sections of trail that are out of character for the rest don't change this rating, but will be mentioned in the description.
|Paved||A smooth, pavement surface.|
|Graveled||A smooth, improved gravel or bonded surface.|
|Few Obstacles||A natural surface with only occasional small obstacles such as roots, rocks, and eroded areas.|
|Some Obstacles||A natural surface with sustained small or occasional medium-sized obstacles such as roots, rocks, and eroded areas.|
|Moderately Rough||A natural surface with sustained medium-sized or occasional large obstacles such as roots, rocks, boulders, and eroded areas.|
|Very Rough||A natural surface with sustained large obstacles. May involve tricky footing over very deeply eroded gullies and light rock scrambling.|
These descriptors include typical conditions which may vary with weather, erosion, trail maintenance, and season. They may overlap within the difficulty levels somewhat. Determinations are subjective.